Wednesday, 11 June 2014: Houston, TX
Tait Communications has successfully implemented a P25 trunked simulcast system for MACC 9-1-1 in Grant County Washington that has resulted in an unprecedented level of multi-jurisdiction co-operation.
The Multi-Agency Communication Center (MACC 9-1-1) is the primary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for Grant County and is responsible for protecting 90,000 citizens across 3000 square miles, serving a combination of law, fire and EMS agencies.
MACC 9-1-1 had been operating an analog system that was under-built with insufficient channels and sites to meet their needs. Dean Hane, Emergency Radio Communications Manager for MACC 9-1-1 said that a P25 open-standards-based system was a logical choice considering the scale of their operation.
"We knew that we needed more channels, additional features and improved coverage. When you're operating 34 user agencies, an open-standards-based system just makes sense, which is why we chose P25.
"We chose to work with Tait because they represented value, expertise and the ability to perform. This project was a $US9M investment and we needed to be confident the vendor we chose could be a long-term partner for MACC 9-1-1."
In phase one of the project, Tait implemented a QS² VHF analog simulcast system that allows MACC 9-1-1 to communicate with eight neighboring counties and retain VHF functions such as two-tone paging. In phase two, Tait designed and delivered a P25 800 MHz trunked simulcast system across 11 sites.
The full Tait P25 trunked simulcast solution includes Linear Simulcast Modulation (LSM), P25 radios with AES encryption, Network Management and an Avtec dispatch console system. Mr Hane describes it as the "full P25 meal deal" and says that with such a complex system, the design process was critical and Tait's expertise was crucial during this project.
"To ensure the robustness of our emergency communications system, we needed a system designed with redundancy. Tait worked with us over many, many weeks to implement a design philosophy that avoided single point and even multipoint failures.
"In fact, over the past year, the system has been tried and tested in lightning storms, rain storms, hail storms and wind storms where we've taken multiple failures and have still been able to conduct our business and provide services to our users. Looking back on all this, we know that the Tait design was very good, we know our operational needs have been met and the equipment has been designed around our functionality."
Mr Hane says that among the benefits that MACC 9-1-1 has realized from the Tait solution is an unprecedented level of co-operation between jurisdictions that has resulted in safer communities for the County. However, he warns that any agency considering a significant communication system upgrade should not underestimate the culture change that is required.
"The transition from analog to digital is huge and you need to prepare for a lot of culture change. Users experience a loss of control, systems that operate differently than they're used to and you have to compromise to manage the competing priorities of different agencies," he says.
Tait America's President Victor Agnellini has been impressed with the level of pragmatism that Dean Hane and his team have demonstrated during the implementation of the project.
"Dean's professionalism, technical and project management expertise has impressed all of those that have had a chance to work with him. He and his team have been exceptional in working with us to make sure we delivered the best solution possible. As a result, MACC 9-1-1 is now realizing the full potential of their mission-critical communications system."