New E911 system is in the works

Published 2:33 am Thursday, October 22, 2020

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The Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to take the next steps in moving the county further in developing a new E911 radio communication system during its Thursday, Oct. 8 meeting.

The new system, which could have construction begin next summer, may cost the county between $3 and $5 million.

“This has been an overdue project that we have discussed a few years, but it has become critical in the last year,” County Administrator Tracy Gee said.

According to Gee, functional specifications for the system will begin by consulting with Lunenburg County partners to proceed with writing the request for proposals to allow for multiple vendor involvement to help the county save money by reducing sub-contracting.

“They will then, with the county partner’s assistance, complete the bid process and make a recommendation on which proposals are acceptable for the county,” Gee said.

An $89,000 State Homeland Security Grant will assist the county with the process.

“This communication system is the absolute backbone communications of the county,” Supervisor Wayne Hoover said.

The new system will be used for not only fire and EMS but the school system as well.

In April, the county hired CTA, an independent public safety consulting firm providing engineering and project management services based in Lynchburg at the cost of $38,000 to perform a radio system evaluation.

Cheryl Giggetts, a principal consultant with CTA, presented the evaluation reported to the BOS during its Oct. 8 meeting.

According to Giggetts, during the evaluation, CTA spoke with personnel from police, fire, EMS, public works, the school system, and animal control to learn what problems they are facing and their needs.

“Inoperability is a problem,” Giggetts said. “We heard user concerns of lack of coverage, lack of tactical channels, aging equipment, delays, and interference.”

Giggetts said that CTA was recommending a UHF P25 Phase 1 Conventional Simulcast Radio System for the county as it would benefit Lunenburg best and would not need upgrading for at least 15 years.

“Upgrading the existing systems within Lunenburg County will provide the needed public safety grade coverage, capacity, and interoperability for all current public safety and non-public safety radio users within the county for the next 15 years.”

According to Giggetts the recommended system will give users the ability to communicate as needed without delays or interference that they may be faced with currently.

“Users will be able to push to talk with those they need to,” she said.” Equipment is no longer a barrier.”