With a population of 40,000, Jim Wells County is located in Southern Texas, about two and a half hours south of San Antonio. Critical radio communications is required county-wide for police departments, fire departments, EMS, dispatch, Sheriff's Office and State Patrol.
Choosing Tait to develop our critical communications system was probably one of the best moves that Jim Wells County has made for a long time.Judge Arnoldo Saenz, County Judge, Jim Wells County
Voice communication was a serious problem for Jim Wells County. The county lines are unique, stretching the county in a long rectangle and making affordable coverage a challenge. Multiple agencies were all operating on the same network and radio channels were very congested. Officers were concerned about safety; a new public safety communications network needed to be implemented. Lynn Kirchoff, the communications expert liaison for Jim Wells said, "We were using a, more or less, antiquated system. It was good in its time, but it had come to the end of its life. Something had to be done."
Jim Wells County was able to obtain a Homeland Security grant to fund a new system. They also hired a consultant who helped them through the process, as this was their first major project in communications. An RFP was issued; Tait Communications proved to be the best solutions provider for the County.
Judge Arnoldo Saenz says, "We never knew who Tait Communications was before. I can assure you now that they're hand-in-hand partners with us in Jim Wells County." Tait designed and deployed a three-site hybrid P25 digital simulcast and QS² analog simulcast system. The solution features Tait base stations, repeaters and a three year maintenance contract. The analog system means volunteer firefighters can continue to use their pagers.
Set up went smoothly in the beginning but there was an issue with microwave linking. Judge Saenz explains, "When we faced a significant challenge at the end of the project implementation, it was Tait that identified the problem and found a way to fix it. It wasn't their issue but they weren't going to leave us and we worked together as a team until the problem was solved. I can't say enough about the Tait people and how they hung in there with us."
The service contract has proven very beneficial to the County, Judge Saenz explains, "Whenever we have an issue, we simply call Tait and within a couple of minutes somebody is there. They look for a solution and they find a solution. We're very satisfied with the support we receive. Tait have gone far beyond what we required and expected."
The first responders in Jim Wells County are safer now. "We have a system that we can push the button, talk on the radio from the north end of the county to the south end of the county. I think that both entities (fire and public safety) are much safer. They can do a much better job by using this particular system."
As technology evolves, the County has a partner they can trust. "Choosing Tait to develop our critical communications system was probably one of the best moves that Jim Wells County has made for a long time. We've become not only friends, but we're hand-in-hand partners," says Judge Arnoldo Saenz. "Even though the project has been successfully implemented, we're still working with Tait to further advance our critical communications solution and prepare for the future."
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This positioning paper will provide a summarized comparison of the current digital technologies outlining the advantages and disadvantages for each of them. The technologies compared are DMR, dPMR, TETRA, TETRAPOL, P25, NXDN and Opensky.