The county’s emergency radio coverage will jump to nearly 100 percent with the new county-wide emergency radio system, Thomas Winter, Franklin County Emergency Management coordinator, said.
The Board of Franklin County Commissioners approved Wednesday the purchase of a $3.9 million Motorola P-25, 800 megahertz radio system. Winter said the current, 12-year-old commercial grade radio system covers 63 percent of the county, while the P-25 will be at 97 percent.
“We are going to have interoperable communications with everybody in the county,” Winter said. “That is something we have not had before.”
The county included $1.3 million in the proposed 2018 budget for the project. Interest payments for 2018 will be a little more than $200,000, or just under one mill, according to county officials. The county’s public hearing before formally adopting the budget is set for 5:30 p.m. today in the commission chambers at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1418 S. Main St., Ottawa.
Derek Brown, county administrator, called the radio system a sound investment, and said it would meet the county’s current and future needs.
“What we agreed to purchase is as future-proof of a system as we can get,” Brown said. “We have a 10-year maintenance and warranty period where the system will continually be upgraded. What we did [Wednesday] should keep us from being in this same situation a decade from now. Over the longterm, we made a very, very fiscally prudent decision.”
State agencies and other counties are already using the system, Winter said. Plus the Franklin County agencies will converge to one setup.
“We can talk to any county in the state of Kansas,” he said. “The old system, we had nine or 10 different radio infrastructures in the county. Now we are going to one radio infrastructure in the county. We have people on different bands. Everybody will have the ability to talk to each other whenever we need to.”
The system will give emergency personnel an unprecedented level of communication, Brown said.
“What happened [Wednesday] was the start of enhanced public safety in Franklin County,” he said. “This tends to be the direction that all public safety agencies are going.”
Brown said Motorola has been convenient to work with through the process.
“They seemed to understand some of the challenges that are being faced by governments,” he said. “They have been very helpful in providing information and providing it promptly.”
Motorola representatives began installing the system Wednesday, with a goal of being online by the end of the year, Brown said.
“Our staff is ready to go and assist them,” he said.