Home AreaFire Fourth Freqs Westfield Search MSPHelo RadioWoes RadioNews UnidenAPCO25 FCC Look Up Live Old News Marathon NH State Police MSPZone4&6 Gillette MSP5 MSP1 TPC DNC04 BostonTrunk Rebanding TACS NTIA MEMA BAPERN BPD Scanermaster



Radio News

Sprint/Nextel settles rebanding cost dispute with City of Boston
from MRT Article

Dec 19, 2007 5:08 PM, By Glenn Bischoff

Sprint Nextel recently settled a dispute with the city of Boston over whether the use of inventory-control software that the city had purchased from MCM Technology constituted a recoverable expense related to the reconfiguration of the city’s 800 MHz radio system. The agreement calls for Sprint Nextel to reimburse to the city the sum of $60,000, which accounts for all of the costs associated with the software, according to an attorney who represented the city in the case.

The city had claimed that the tracking and management software was necessary in part because its radios had to be touched twice during the reconfiguration process, first to program the new channels that the system would be using after the reconfiguration and then to remove the channels that had been used prior to the reconfiguration.

But the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) rejected the claim in February 2007, stating that the city hadn’t demonstrated the need for the second touch. The PSHSB also opined that the city misinterpreted the minimum number of touches required by the FCC’s original order to complete the reconfiguration. Because no base stations would be operating on the old channels once rebanding was completed, the bureau determined that removing the old channels was an unnecessary act, which by extension made the inventory-control software an unnecessary purchase.

Robert Schwaninger, president of Schwaninger & Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that represented the city in this case, said that regardless of the argument over whether a second touch of the radios is justified, the software is a legitimate expense given the cost recovery aspects of the FCC’s rebanding order.

“This is not a glorified spreadsheet … you can actually manage the project,” using this software, which offers an “error-rejection” capability, Schwaninger added. “The problem we have with the public safety guys is that they’re not used to keeping these kinds of records.”

A Sprint Nextel spokesman said in an e-mail response that the carrier decided to settle because of its commitment to moving the reconfiguration process forward. “We are pleased that Boston can now proceed with their Phase 1 rebanding,” said spokesman Scott Sloat.

from: Radio World Online

Date posted: 2005-06-15

McCain Introduces Save Lives Act of 2005

Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, has introduced legislation that would speed up when TV broadcasters would turn over their analog spectrum after going digital so that the analog channels may be used for emergency communications. Called the "Spectrum Availability for Emergency-Response and Law-Enforcement to Improve Vital Emergency Services Act," if enacted, the bill would required TV stations to turn over their analog spectrum to the government by Jan. 1, 2009, years sooner than currently required.

The measure would also authorize about $460 million to provide digital-to-analog converter boxes for an estimated 9.3 million over-the-air television households that cannot afford to buy a digital TV set.

McCain said access to this spectrum, specifically the 24 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, would be helpful to first responders as signals sent over these frequencies are able to penetrate walls, travel great distances, and assist multiple jurisdictions in deploying interoperable communications systems.

"Now is the time for Congressional action before another national emergency or crisis takes place," said McCain referring to 9/11.

The bill would mandate warning labels be displayed on analog television sets sold prior to the transition and require warning language to be displayed at retailers. Brochures describing the DTV set options would have to be available at retailers. McCain also called on broadcasters to air informational programs to "better prepare" consumers for the digital transition.

"The 9-11 Commission's Final Report contained stories about police officers and fire fighters who were inside the Twin Towers and unable to receive evacuation orders over their radios from commanders," said McCain. "This inability to communicate was also a problem for public safety organizations responding at the Pentagon and Somerset County, Pennsylvania crash sites where multiple organizations and multiple jurisdictions responded. Therefore, the commission recommended that Congress accelerate the availability of more spectrum for public safety."


Plan to clear the air for police radios hits snag
A proposed swap of airwaves to cut cell phone interference with dozens of police and fire radio systems nationwide has been held up by a less complex proposal from others in the industry.

The rival proposals have vexed and divided the staff of the Federal Communications Commission as few issues have, in part because each plan would in some ways benefit the party proposing it.

The impasse threatens to delay resolution of a problem that has been hampering emergency response capabilities since the mid-1990s.

The FCC appeared headed toward approval of the airwave swap — proposed last December by Nextel Communications and a coalition of public-safety agencies — until Motorola and a group of wireless companies stepped in with an alternative plan last month.

The root of the interference problem is that frequencies used by public safety agencies, Nextel and other mobile radio services are interlaced. As a result, the far more numerous antenna towers Nextel uses for its cell phone service sometimes drown out public-safety radios, resulting in "dead spots" in coverage in several dozen cities, including Seattle and Miami.

In fall 2001, Nextel first proposed giving up spectrum that would allow creating an interference-free public safety block. In trade, Nextel would get contiguous airwaves in a band now reserved for satellite phone services. Nextel agreed to pay $850 million toward costs for public safety and private carriers to reprogram equipment or buy new gear.

But mobile phone carriers say the plan unfairly hands Nextel prime spectrum that otherwise could be sold at auction by the FCC for billions of dollars.

Critics of the Nextel plan also say the spectrum swap would disrupt about half the nation's 2,200 public-safety agencies, even though interference incidents are isolated. In addition, it would take nearly four years to complete, and it might not fully eliminate the interference.

Last month, Motorola, which makes most public-safety radios, told the FCC it has developed a device that can filter out Nextel's signals while still receiving public-safety transmissions. "We think there's a technical solution," says Motorola's Steve Sharkey.

Public-safety agencies can get the device when they upgrade to new radios, which could take years, or they can retrofit existing radios. A group of wireless firms backs that plan in tandem with stronger interference protections.

But the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials calls the proposal "reactive" to interference events. And it's unclear who would pay for the upgrades under the alternative plan.

"You've got to fix the underlying problem," says Nextel's Larry Krevor. He says interference is more widespread than critics say, and it's growing. He says only a swap can cleanly address all the causes.

Some observers suggest Motorola may be opposing a swap because that could open its market to rival radio makers. But others say Motorola would benefit from equipment upgrades in either case.


Tewksbury gets communications equipment

By Advocate Staff
Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Framingham was the site of a ceremony to distribute public safety communications equipment to over 50 Massachusetts communities on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Scores of emergency management directors from across the commonwealth were on hand to accept this equipment, which is valued at $855,000, bringing the total grant money on this particular program to $1,400,000. This equipment was secured by MEMA as part of a Department of Justice grant.


"The ability to better community with other communities and agencies has been a longstanding need expressed by local public safety officials," stated MEMA Director Stephen J. McGrail. "MEMA has been working very hard with the Massachusetts State Police to better serve the communication needs of the local communities during times of emergency. We feel that the addition of this equipment goes a long way towards that end."

Tewksbury was one of the recipients.

With the exception of the Islands, each county in the commonwealth received four caches. Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard received two caches each. Each cache consists of six portable radios, speakers/microphones, six spare batteries and one rack-charger, valued at almost $15,000. These caches have been strategically placed throughout the commonwealth so that all communities will have immediate access, should the need arise.

"Through this grant, the commonwealth is building a basic capacity for statewide interoperable communication, allowing all public safety first-responders to securely communicate during an emergency," stated Secretary of Public Safety James P. Jajuga. "This is a key element of our broader statewide commonwealth security and anti-terrorism efforts."

The communication caches will be placed across the state for operation on ITAC repeaters (national public safety frequencies) and statewide local public safety interoperability talkgroups. The command coordination caches will be distributed as caches of shared equipment and stored for use by emergency managers, fire districts and police regions statewide. At the scene of an event, the sector chiefs, functioning under the Incident Command System will utilize these caches.

The DOJ grant has also provided additional radio transmitters that have been installed in more than 30 radio towers across the commonwealth at a cost of $493,000. These transmitters work in conjunction with the 800 MHz radio network, operated and maintained by the State Police. Colonel Thomas J. Foley said, "Improving communications is a vital goal of this department, and the State Police are happy to be participating in this important public safety project. These radios will enhance communications between departments, and literally open up a channel for local agencies to communicate with state agencies such as MEMA and the State Police."

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state and local resources to protect the public during disasters and emergencies. MEMA helps develop plans for effective response to all hazards, train emergency personnel, provides information to families and communities, and assists in recovery from disaster losses. You can learn about MEMA by visiting the MEMA homepage at



Town gets six radios for emergencies

By Robert Aicardi /
Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Braintree Emergency Management Agency (BEMA) Director Robert Salvaggio was proud when he showed six 800mhz-type radios to the Board of Selectmen last week.

These radios and their accessories, valued at between $14,000 and $16,000, have been awarded to Braintree by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

"We have gained respect from the state," Salvaggio told the board during its Nov. 18 meeting. "We and only two other towns on the South Shore have received this equipment. This request was four years in the making. These radios are intended for high echelon decision making. Each radio is like a walkie talkie, but more sophisticated and more expensive."

Salvaggio emphasized that the new radios do not replace the equipment BEMA already has.

"The 800mhz-type radios have been given to Braintree and will be used for initial and mutual responses to an event having an impact on our town and/or our neighboring towns that will allow the Fire, Emergency Management, and Police Departments to communicate on that frequency," Salvaggio wrote in a Nov. 13 letter to the selectmen and Executive Secretary Terri Ackerman. "We are the caretakers of this equipment."

At Salvaggio's request, the selectmen agreed 5-0 to authorize an agreement between BEMA, MEMA, and the State Police for the use of the radios.

Chairman David Shaw was designated to sign this agreement on behalf of the board.

In other business, the selectmen also agreed unanimously to allow Sunday package store openings from noon to 9 p.m. during the holiday season (Nov. 24 to Dec. 31) and extend liquor service hours on New Year's Eve from 1 to 2 a.m.
New England News
Emergency Response Officials Discuss Gaps in Terror Plan


WORCESTER, Mass. -- Statewide plans to prevent and respond to terrorism still have significant gaps, including mismatched radio systems and undeveloped programs to detect biological attacks, according to state and federal anti-terrorism officials who met here Thursday.

About 900 emergency response officials met at the Northeast Regional Emergency Management Conference to assess progress in preparing for terrorism.

By all accounts, the state has made significant gains since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But officials talked of work that still needs to be done, the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester reported.

For instance, Boston has a new surveillance system to monitor emergency rooms and primary care centers for systems of illness from biological agents, but similar systems are still years from reality in other parts of the state.

Stephen McGrail, director of the state Emergency Management System, said the state has made major gains in matching incompatible radio systems among emergency responders, a problem that hampered rescue efforts at the World Trade Center.

The state has delivered 350 new radios to emergency response coordinators around the state to link state police, the national guard and state and federal emergency agencies.

But McGrail said that most cities and towns still have separate radio systems for police, fire, public works and ambulance workers.

"It is obviously just the start of solving a real problem that we face," he said, adding "technical problems and cost problems" are still significant. (AP)


MEMA and State Police distribute Public Safety Communications equipment to local communities.

EOPS - Press Release 11.15.2002

Framingham MA - The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Headquarters in Framingham was the site of a ceremony to distribute Public Safety Communications Equipment to over 50 Massachusetts communities on Wednesday, November 13, 2002. Scores of Emergency Management Directors from across the Commonwealth were on hand to accept this equipment, which is valued at $855,000.00, bringing the total grant money on this particular program to $1,400,000.00 .
This equipment was secured by MEMA as part of a Department of Justice (DOJ) Grant. "The ability to better to better communicate with other communities and agencies has been a longstanding need expressed by local Public Safety officials," stated MEMA Director Stephen J. McGrail. "MEMA has been working very hard with the Massachusetts State Police to better serve the communications needs of the local communities during times of emergency. We feel that that addition of this equipment goes a long way towards that end." With the exception of the Islands, each County in the Commonwealth received four (4) caches. Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard received two (2) caches each. Each cache consists of six (6) portable radios, speaker/microphones, 6 spare batteries and one rack-charger, valued at $15,000.00 These caches have been strategically placed throught the Commonwealth so that all communities will have immediate access, should the need arise.
"Through this grant, the Commonwealth is building a basic capacity for Statewide interoperable communications, allowing all Public Safety first-responders to securely communicate during an emergency," stated Secretary of Public Safety James P. Jajuga. "This is a key element of our broader statewide Commonwealth Security and Anti- Terrorism efforts.
The communications caches will be placed across the state for operation on ITAC repeaters (National Public Safety frequencies - Conventional) and Statewide Local Public Safety interoperability Talk- Groups (Trunked). These Command Coordination Caches will be distributed as caches of shared equipment and stored for use by Emergency Managers, Fire Districts, and Police Regions statewide. At the scene of an event, the Sector Chiefs, functioning under the Incident Command System (ICS)will utilize these caches. The DOJ Grant has also provided additional radio transmitters (Repeaters) that have been installed in more than 30 radio tower sites across the Commonwealth at a cost of $493,000.00 These Transmitters work in conjunction with the 800 Mhz Radio network, operated and maintained by the State Police. Colonel Thomas J. Foley said, "Improving communications is a vital goal of this Department, and the State Police are happy to be participating in this important public project. These radios will enhance communications between departments, and literally open up a channel for local agencies to communicate with state agencies such as MEMA and the State Police". Communities Receiving Portable Radio Caches ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Barnstable County
Harwich, Bourne, Falmouth, Truro

Berkshire County
Williamstown, Sheffield, Pittsfield, Lee

Bristol County
Fall River, Attleboro, Taunton, New Bedford

Dukes County
Martha's Vineyard

Essex County
Amesbury, Gloucester, Andover, Peabody

Franklin County
Colrain, Orange, Greenfield, Deerfield

Hampden County
Westfield, Wilbraham, Springfield, Chicopee

Hampshire County
Easthampton, Northampton, Hadley, Amherst

Middlesex County
Tewksbury, Bedford, Marlboro, Melrose

Nantucket County

Norfolk County
Franklin, Norwood, Needham, Braintree

Plymouth County
Marshfield, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Brockton

Suffolk County
Boston, Chelsea

Worcester County
Leominster, Auburn, Northbridge, Shrewsbury


ITAC Frequencies and CTCSS Tones can be accessed at


Airport dispatching transitions to IDEN

Mobile Radio Technology magazine,, Online Exclusive, Aug 31 2002

Aeronautical Radio, Annapolis, Md., continues to convert Motorola analog trunking systems used at airports throughout the United States to Motorola’s integrated digital enhanced network trunking systems. Arinc joins Nextel Communications, McLean, Va., and SouthernLinc, Atlanta, in the deployment of IDEN systems.

At least nine airports served by Arinc have begun the transition with the activiation of one or more IDEN channels, but apparently none of the airports has made a full conversion by switching off the last of its analog equipment.

The Los Angeles International airport’s IDEN installation, originally scheduled for completion at the end of September, now is slated for full conversion by Jan. 31, 2003. At LAX, Arinc has seven 800 MHz frequencies. With the partial conversion to IDEN, Arinc’s system now has two IDEN channels activated. One serves as a control channel, and the other carries six multiplexed voice channels. Of the other five channels, three serve as combination control and analog voice channels, and the remaining two are analog voice channels.

Arinc named its IDEN network the Digital Wireless Dispatch system, and said it would improve its busy ground operations by expanding voice capacity by 500% and by adding wireless data networking and direct coast-to-coast connections.

“Airports have been running out of ground radio capacity for years, as their analog radio systems have grown clogged with messages from expanding airport operations, airline ground operations, security services, transportation systems, and many on-site vendors such as fueling companies,” a statement from Arinc reads.

“The obvious solution—converting to digital wireless—once appeared too expensive. But in 2001, Arinc developed a centralized digital switching service that replaces costly airport hardware and makes private digital wireless systems economically feasible,” the company stated.

Arinc expects to install IDEN at 60 U.S. airports by 2005.

Most recently, Arinc installed IDEN at Boston Logan airport and marked the end of the first year of installations. During this phase, the company upgraded systems at nine airports where it owns the wireless frequencies and manages the local capability. The airports include Boston, Newark International, Miami International, Los Angeles International, Chicago O'Hare, San Francisco, New York JFK, Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta. The company plans to upgrade 50 more U.S. airports in three years, as airlines ask for expanded DWD coverage.

The system includes hand-held and mobile hardware that permits airline ground personnel—such as ramp workers—to connect directly with workers at other airports to solve service or business problems quickly. Arinc has priced DWD dispatch service at a flat rate with no long-distance charges.

Ground handling companies and other airport businesses can use the data-capable iDEN hardware in their daily operations to send and receive data. The system also permits monitoring, group messaging, and messaging priority functions that were not possible with Arinc’s older analog technology. The company expects to add wireless-to-telephone interconnect to allow authorized wireless users to make telephone calls through their company's phone systems or public telephone networks.

"The Digital Wireless Dispatch system is already bringing airport, airline, and vendor operations seamlessly together—whether it's across the tarmac or across the country," said Michael Siok, ARINC's network application development director. "Now, better communications will mean better service for customers and more operating efficiency for everybody. In addition, the new system makes the best possible use of the limited existing frequencies at the airport."

Arinc develops and operates communications and information processing systems for the aviation and transportation industries and provides systems engineering and integration solutions to the government and aviation. Founded to provide reliable and efficient radio communications for the airlines, Arinc has more than 3,000 employees worldwide with headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland.

© 2002, PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by
United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc.



Motorola Targets Firefighters

Associated Press Writer

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (AP) -- Motorola Inc. is introducing a new mobile communications system designed specially for firefighters, intended to make it easier for commanders to account for personnel at emergency scenes.

Motorola said the system will provide better radio coverage on the scene and in buildings when it becomes available next year, with future features to include rescue tracking capability and a self-contained breathing apparatus.

The Fireground Communications System was announced Friday in conjunction with the start of the Fire-Rescue International Conference in Kansas City, where it is being demonstrated.

Each system radio automatically reports the user's radio ID, which can be configured to display name, position and assignment on a mobile command terminal.

A firefighter in trouble can push an emergency button that activates an alarm on the mobile command terminal. The commander also can transmit a signal to all radios alerting users to the presence of immediate danger.

Motorola vice president Mike Worthington, general manager of its Global Safety and Security Solutions division, called it a significant step forward for firefighter safety.

Motorola is the biggest U.S. manufacturer of cell phones and other wireless devices.

In midday trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, Motorola shares were down 44 cents at $13.09.
Motorola Inc. of Hanover, Md., won a $143,273 contract from the Army National Guard for 800-megahertz police communication equipment.


August 6, 2002

Fire Dept. to Start Reissuing Radios Pulled Last Year



The Fire Department will begin reissuing new, but controversial, handheld radios to firefighters on Staten Island later this month and, if all goes well, will distribute them citywide in the fall, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said yesterday.

The city had pulled the radios from service in March 2001, and resumed using older equipment, after a firefighter's call for help during a Queens fire went unheard. But the performance of the older equipment on Sept. 11 has been criticized by some fire officers who say communication problems that day contributed greatly to the deaths of 343 firefighters.

Many firefighters, some using radios as much as 10 years old, apparently did not hear an evacuation order transmitted before the twin towers collapsed, a consultant for the city has concluded.

"We've waited long enough on those radios," Capt. Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said at a news conference yesterday during which he and other fire union leaders urged the city to accelerate the testing of the radios. Mr. Scoppetta's announcement came several hours later. Fire officials said the testing schedule had been set several weeks ago and was not sped up to respond to the unions.

The new radios have passed a battery of tests at the Fire Academy, Mr. Scoppetta said, and are being evaluated. Although they were supposed to operate using more advanced digital technology, the radios have been reprogrammed to operate in so-called analog mode, the same technology as the existing models. The new radios, however, operate on UHF frequencies, not VHF frequencies like the old models. They are believed to be better at penetrating buildings, and the new radios are compatible with police radios.

At the end of this month, all fire companies on Staten Island will be given the reprogrammed radios for a final eight-week test. Mr. Scoppetta said preliminary reports from a review committee indicated that the radios were working well.

Union officials disputed that assessment. Capt. John Dunne, who is monitoring the testing for the fire officers union, said the radios were just a little better than the ones currently in use, and had performed poorly in several recent tests.

Last Saturday, he said, firefighters who responded to a drill at Chase Manhattan Plaza in Lower Manhattan were unable to hear messages broadcast from the basement of the building.

A spokesman for Motorola, the company that makes both the old and the new radios, said any communication problems on Sept. 11 or during the drills did not stem from the radios themselves. Rather, the spokesman, John McFadden, said that any handheld radio would experience problems operating in a high-rise building that is not equipped with a repeater, a device that increases the signal.

Mr. Scoppetta said he was trying to have additional repeaters placed in high-rises or to make use of similar radio equipment that the Police Department has installed in such buildings. Police officials, whose radios performed without problems on Sept. 11, said they were considering the proposal to share equipment.

Even as the city presses forward with its possible solutions, officials remain unsure what actually went wrong with firefighter communications on Sept. 11. Initially, officials said the radios did not work well because a repeater at the World Trade Center had not been operating. But an audiotape of fire radio transmissions that surfaced in recent weeks has shown that the repeater did work, at least intermittently, in the south tower.

Officials have been unable to explain why the same repeater apparently did not work to help transmit messages in the north tower. Two evacuation orders given in that building were not heard by many firefighters on the upper floors, investigators have concluded.

According to several survivors, many of these firefighters did not hurry to get out of the building because they seemed unaware of the evacuation order and the fact that the south tower had collapsed.

"This administration has a responsibility, regardless of current fiscal problems, to see that firefighters are properly equipped with radios that actually work," said Stephen Cassidy, the new president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.



August 5, 2002

Union Demands New FDNY Radios



Filed at 9:55 p.m. ET


NEW YORK (AP) -- A fire officers' union demanded Monday that the fire department speed replacement of the handheld radios that failed during the World Trade Center attack.

Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said the Fire Department of New York's four-month timetable for a final test on the radios was too slow, endangering firefighters and the public.

``We can't wait that long,'' Gorman said. ``We've waited long enough on those radios.''

The Motorola digital radios being tested are the same ones introduced more than a year ago, withdrawn because of problems and replaced by analog radios before Sept. 11.

Gorman said that if the tests don't pan out, the FDNY should scrap the radios and look for alternatives.

The UFOA represents 2,500 captains, lieutenants and battalion chiefs in the 11,500-member department. Representatives of other fire unions also attended the news conference.

The fire department said in a statement that it was conducting a ``thorough and comprehensive testing program'' for firefighter radios, scheduled to end Aug. 24.

``The department is compelled to fully test these radios and make certain that they are safe for use by firefighters,'' the statement said. ``This is being done as quickly as possible with the overriding, paramount concern for firefighter safety.''

The department announced plans in June for a revamped radio communications system designed to cope better with major emergencies.

The system involves upgraded versions of the digital radios that were pulled back after an unsuccessful test run in March 2001. The Motorola digital radios were replaced by models from the less-efficient analog system; the analog radios proved inadequate during the trade center calamity that took 343 firefighters' lives.

Gorman said a consultant's study is expected to show that ``virtually no one heard'' an order to evacuate the north tower 27 minutes before the south tower collapsed.

The 3,800 Motorola radios were part of a $14 million program to improve communications at fire scenes, especially in high-rise buildings.

Motorola company officials said the overloaded communications network was the real problem on Sept. 11.

``If you have 400 or 500 people trying to talk at once, it's a wonder anyone heard the transmissions,'' said John McFadden, a company spokesman.



Monday May 6, 9:01 am Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: LoJack Corporation

LoJack Launches "Eye in the Sky" With Its Aviation Vehicle Recovery Program

Stolen vehicle recovery solution works from the ground up with increased use of LoJack-equipped aviation units

WESTWOOD, Mass., May 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As part of its commitment to recovering stolen vehicles, LoJack Corporation (Nasdaq: LOJN - News) today announced the launch of its "Eye in the Sky" aviation vehicle recovery program nationwide. LoJack's "Eye in the Sky" program gives law enforcement officials the ability to track auto thieves on the ground and in the air, aided by LoJack's wireless radio frequency technology. With a national recovery rate of 90 percent, LoJack's stolen vehicle recovery technology offers an extra layer of protection when installed in police aviation units.

Currently police agencies in the following states are utilizing LoJack in aviation units: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington D.C. As a result of the recovery successes using airborne units in these market areas, LoJack has formalized the "Eye in the Sky" program, offering interested law enforcement departments specific training and support for the use of LoJack radio frequency tracking in the air.

The LoJack System, the only vehicle recovery system that has direct connections with law enforcement officials, has been aiding in the recovery of stolen vehicles since 1986 when its wireless radio frequency-based technology was first installed in law enforcement ground vehicles. Presently, police agencies are rapidly installing LoJack units into helicopters and airplanes to complement vehicle patrols and expand the ability to quickly track stolen vehicles and commercial equipment.

"We have found LoJack to be an extremely effective tool to recover stolen vehicles," said Captain Mike Hillmann, Commanding Officer, Los Angeles Police Department Air Support Division, which equips fourteen helicopters with the LoJack system. "We are able to cover a great deal of terrain, identify, track and recover stolen vehicles quickly and efficiently."

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that after a ten-year decline, auto thefts are on the rise once again. LoJack's vehicle recovery system has a 90 percent recovery rate, and its addition of the "Eye in the Sky" aviation safety measures will contribute to the system's success. LoJack's aviation vehicle recovery program gives law enforcement officials more freedom in the tracking of stolen vehicles, undeterred by the restrictions of ground travel, such as congestion in metropolitan areas.

"We are pleased that law enforcement teams nationwide are finding value in the LoJack solution," said Ron Rossi, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of LoJack Corporation. "Our patented wireless radio frequency technology has proven to be the best method for recovering stolen vehicles, on the ground and in the air."

The patented LoJack system includes a small transceiver that is hidden on the body of the vehicle. When the vehicle is reported stolen, silent radio signals are emitted from this radio transceiver and the police are able to follow the signal to locate the property.

About LoJack

LoJack Corporation is the recognized world leader in stolen vehicle recovery technology. In the U.S., its stolen vehicle recovery system, utilized by law enforcement agencies, has maintained more than a 90 percent successful recovery rate during the sixteen years it has been available to the consumer. The LoJack System operates coast-to-coast in 20 states and the District of Columbia, representing the areas of the country with the greatest population density, highest number of new vehicle sales and incidents of vehicle theft. In addition, LoJack is operated by law enforcement and security organizations in more than 20 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America.

SOURCE: LoJack Corporation

FDNY Revamps Radio System

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York fire department is rolling out a revamped radio system to better handle emergencies such as the World Trade Center attack, which left many rescuers struggling to communicate.


``The communication was horrible and there's no disputing that,'' said Tom Manley, health and safety officer for the firefighters' union. ``You didn't get the necessary transmissions being heard. Some people heard, some people didn't.''

City officials have attributed part of the problem to the destruction of equipment called repeaters, which boost radio signals. The repeaters were mounted high in the trade center and in commanders' cars to amplify and retransmit signals. They were destroyed when the hijacked planes struck the buildings and debris crushed the vehicles below.

Firefighter unions said that long-standing radio problems in high-rise buildings also played a role.

Both say the new, $14 million system appears better suited to situations that could have hundreds of personnel from different agencies performing complex operations at great personal risk.

The handheld Motorola radios being tested for a late-summer debut operate at higher frequencies better able to penetrate concrete and steel than the radios in use Sept. 11, company and fire officials say.

They are expected to be augmented by new repeaters in 60 high-rise buildings, and radio antennas in subway tunnels, where firefighters also have long had communication problems.

Unlike the models they replace, the new radios are compatible with police, Office of Emergency Management and other city systems.

At ground zero on Sept. 11, one emergency official who did not have a fire department radio could not broadcast an alert that the north tower was in danger of collapsing. Instead, he had to send a subordinate racing across the trade center plaza to hand-deliver the message to a fire chief inside.

``Nine-eleven, of course, highlights some of the communication difficulties that we had,'' fire department spokesman Frank Gribbon said. ``We sort of knew all of this prior to 9/11, but after that event you see how critically important it is.''

The new radios can be programmed to operate on dozens of radio channels, preventing the fire department's usual single fire-scene channel from being congested during a large-scale incident such as the trade center attack.

The radios also allow firefighters in distress to alert others by hitting an emergency button instead of transmitting ``Mayday'' orally.


Andrew Seybold's

By Andrew M. Seybold
15 April 2002

What If the FCC Held an Auction and No One Came?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to auction the spectrum now occupied by TV Channels 52-69 (the "700-MHz band"). Some of this spectrum has been set aside for public safety, which sorely needs new spectrum, and part has been allocated as "guard bands" that protect the public safety spectrum from interference. The rest will be up for grabs on a nationwide basis. The FCC has delayed this auction five times and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA---the folks who control the government portion of the spectrum) and several members of congress have indicated that they are in favor of a sixth delay. President Bush did not include income from this auction in his budget until 2004. So what is going on at the FCC?

It appears that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is running the show---or at least thats what any rational person would be led to believe under the circumstances. Lets take a look at the how things stand:

1) Broadcasters that have licenses on these TV channels, which they got for free, wont be required to move off of the spectrum until 2006 or until 85% of their potential viewing public has embraced HDTV (High-Definition TV).

2) Broadcasters have crafted a way in which access to this spectrum could be sped up: The winners of the auction could pay broadcasters to vacate the spectrum sooner.

3) There are several plans on the table to shuffle spectrum in the 800-MHz range because there have been some interference problems to existing public safety systems caused by others in the band. One such plan calls for relocating all of the 800-MHz public safety users down into the 700-MHz band---a proposal that makes a lot of sense.

4) There is a new task force made up of the NTIA, FCC and various other groups to examine all spectrum requirements and existing allocations in order to come up with a workable plan that will satisfy all existing and potential users. This group has just begun its work and this is something that is long overdue.

So why the rush to auction this spectrum? Why not leave it on the table so it can be included in a new spectrum plan? The military doesnt want to give up 1700 MHz, the wireless industry needs "new" spectrum and the best choice might be some spectrum in the 15002300-MHz range that is compatible with the rest of the world. For the first time, there is a coordinated effort to review all of this spectrum and to try to come up with a long-range plan instead of continuing "business as usual"---which means auctioning the 700-MHz spectrum regardless of any long-term plans.

If this auction moves forward as planned, the "winners" will pay billions of dollars for the privilege using the spectrum, only to have to work out deals with existing TV broadcasters to pay them billions more to vacate their channels earlier than 2006 or beyond. The only conclusion one can draw is that the FCCs tail is being wagged by something other than logic.

One reason being cited for holding the auction is "homeland security" and the public safety communitys desperate need for spectrum. They do need spectrum and they need it badly, but does that mean we should give them 24 MHz of spectrum in the 700-MHz band? The rest of their spectrum is spread out over the entire two-way radio band. In California, for example, the Highway Patrol operates on 44 MHz and county and city public safety agencies operate systems at 150 MHz, 450 MHz, 470 MHz and 800 MHz! Its just as bad in the rest of the nation. Now is the time to think about what the public safety community really needs and find a way to make it happen.

For years I have been saying that if we could "find" a big enough chunk of spectrum for public safety we could have state-of-the-art systems that would enable federal, state and local public safety agencies to share spectrum that is contiguous and to allocate it in real time when there is a disaster---local, regional or national. As it stands today, cellular and PCS are the only common operating channels for public safety. They dont provide priority access and they dont provide the one-to-many capabilities needed by public safety agencies.

Perhaps FCC members should spend a Friday night riding in a DC police car and gain some understanding of what is needed. It is imperative for one car to hear what is going on around it, for the dispatcher to be able to send multiple vehicles to a scene quickly and for all of those in an area to be able to hear the report from the first officer on the scene. Likewise, fire personnel need to be directed into a fire. Consider five engines responding to a fire. The officer in charge must be able to direct each engine into the response---some to hydrants, some to rescue activities and some to attack the fire. It is also important that all of those responding to the fire know what the others are doing and where they are.

During the two biggest major disasters of our time---the Oklahoma Bombing and September 11---a major impediment to the coordination of public safety activities was that most personnel were unable to communicate with each other without having an already overloaded dispatcher relay commands or by competing for connections over the overloaded commercial phone systems. Valuable time was lost and perhaps additional lives because there is no system for the various agencies to communicate effectively with each other.

We have an opportunity to correct this problem and at the same time establish a national spectrum policy. Some changes would be required and some services would have to be relocated. These changes could be funded by auctions held after the decisions have been made. But the FCC is in a rush to auction 84 MHz of spectrum that wont be usable until at least 2006 unless winning bidders are willing to cough up additional big bucks. Why are TV broadcasters entitled to a windfall for moving off spectrum they didnt pay for?

How to Solve the Problem

This wont work and I know it, but its a great thought What if the FCC held the auction and no one showed up? What if every company interested in the spectrum stayed home and refused to play the game? It would certainly send a message to the FCC that the industry is fed up with the irrational manner in which this limited resource is being handled by the government agency that is supposed to be managing it.

Or what if all of the potential bidders got together as a group and bid the very minimum permitted by auction rules? This group would then "own" the spectrum (which can be used for anything other than TV) and could determine its best use. We could call this new organization the WCC---the "Wireless Communications Consortium"---and it would work with other spectrum holders to figure out swaps and seize control of a significant portion of the spectrum from the FCC.

If the FCC cant be trusted to manage our spectrum in a manner that takes into account all of those who want and need it, perhaps its time to send a strong message: Business as usual---bending to organizations with a vested interest in the decisions---wont cut it anymore. Years ago the Republicans floated an idea to disband the FCC. I was against it at that time as I believed we needed a regulatory body to ensure that all interests were served. I have to admit that if they floated that idea again today, I would be tempted to agree---and help make it happen!

Andrew M. Seybold <>


Motorola Press Release on NH Statewide Digital Plans


Installation of New Hampshire Statewide Motorola Communications System Nearing Completion

Digital Communications Project Slated to be Completed in June 2002

CONCORD, N.H., March 7, 2002 - The State of New Hampshire is forging ahead with plans to implement a fully integrated statewide Motorola VHF Conventional ASTRO® digital communications system. Staging for the $13.3 million system was completed in June 2001 and installation of key components began in late July with a targeted completion date of June 2002.

New Hampshire was the first public safety agency to beta test Motorola's Project 25 VHF ASTRO technology in 1996. After testing and refining the system for more than a year, New Hampshire's Department of Safety signed a contract with Motorola to implement the technology for the New Hampshire Division of State Police.

The Division of Fish and Game, State Liquor Commission and Department of Resource and Economic Development have followed, upgrading their communications to VHF ASTRO. The State is currently under contract with Motorola to deploy this same technology into the 10 county dispatch centers, enabling local municipalities to upgrade their operations to the ASTRO digital platform.

"Digital technology invented the word 'interoperability,'" said Executive Major Fred Booth of the New Hampshire Division of State Police. "A capability that proved absolutely necessary after a shooting incident in northern New Hampshire brought into the spotlight the inability for varying state agencies to communicate."

Due to limited access to frequency spectrum, many New Hampshire municipalities and public safety agencies used the same radios and shared the same frequencies, making effective communication very difficult - especially in emergency situations. Additionally, prior technologies did not offer an integrated voice and data solution.

After researching options and emerging technologies, New Hampshire state officials looked to Motorola and its innovative Project 25 VHF ASTRO solution to achieve an effective digital platform. The challenge, explained Major Booth, was that no other state public safety agency had embarked on such a comprehensive communications upgrade.

"We had no other public safety division to emulate...model our process after," said Major Booth. "We had to forge our own path using the crawl, walk, run principle. Right now, we are walking strong."

The new public safety communications system will include the deployment of approximately 1,500 ASTRO Spectra® mobile radios, 1400 XTS3000TMModel II portable radios and 40 Gold Series EliteTMCRT Consoles. State public safety municipalities will have integrated voice and data capability on the new ASTRO backbone. All console positions in the system will be connected to an Embassy Switch, or audio switching control, housed in the State's Capitol to ensure seamless interoperability between all agencies for wide area communications, disaster or major incident response.

"The New Hampshire Department of Safety's pioneering spirit has helped define a strategic process to build an integrated communications infrastructure from top to bottom," said Ken Denslow, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Northern Sales Division of Motorola, Inc. "Their willingness to embrace new technology and build consensus and cooperation between state, local and country governments to meet their communications goals will provide other states an effective model to emulate."

About Motorola

Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is a global leader in providing integrated communications and embedded electronic solutions. Sales in 2001 were $30 billion.


For more information contact:

    *Steve Gorecki
Phone: 847-538-0368

Fred Booth
Executive Major, NH State Police
Phone: 603-271-2151




Last updated 3/7/2002


Metro West Daily News Story:

$57.4M budget passes at TM

By Judy Powell / Correspondent
Monday, March 18, 2002

WESTBOROUGH - With pleas for fiscal restraint from the Advisory Finance Committee heeded, residents at Saturday's annual Town Meeting passed a $57.4 million budget that brings taxpayers within $340,000 of the levy limit.

The 14 percent increase over last year's budget followed weeks of negotiations between town departments and Finance Committee members, who urged a curb in spending to avoid reaching Proposition 21/2 tax capacity.

"Excess levy capacity is a crucial indicator of our town's financial viability in the bond market," said board Chairman Leigh Emery.

"It gives us leeway to fund union contracts not yet concluded, and shields Westborough from the potential effects of decreases in state aid and local receipts in future years," she said.

The new budget, resulting in a tax rate of $14.65 per thousand valuation, was approved with minimal discussion during the first of a two-day session.

Of particular interest to many residents were School Department expenses, already reduced by $700,000 from an original $30 million target.

Under pressure from the Finance Committee to trim it further, the School Committee agreed at a recent meeting to eliminate a second assistant principal position at the Mill Pond School along with bathroom modifications at Armstrong School.

Still $100,000 above the board's recommendation, Emery accepted the $29.2 million school budget saying the School Committee had negotiated in "good faith."

"We felt it was better to go in with an agreement before the town rather than argue the additional $100,000," she said after the meeting.


Renovation borrowing OK'd

With the scent of fresh paint and new upholstery lingering in the air of the recently completed auditorium, voters readily approved borrowing $800,000 in additional construction money to be used at the high school.

School Building Committee Chairman Stephen Doret said the borrowing is exempt from the provisions of Proposition 21/2, and is needed to offset bids that came in higher than originally planned.

The $43.4 million building project was passed at a November 1999 Town Meeting and is scheduled for completion this summer.

"This committee has tried to save every penny it can while holding the contractor to a quality standard," he told residents. "We have done everything possible to reduce the cost of the project."

Doret also pointed out to applause from residents that the Mill Pond School continues to run on budget at $26.2 million. The fourth, fifth and sixth grade facility is scheduled to open on time this fall.

During the eight-hour session, residents voted for 35 articles in line with Finance Committee recommendations, leaving seven articles for consideration tonight.

The articles approved included $18,000 for a half-ton pick up truck for Town Hall custodian use; $9,000 for sandblasting and painting the wrought iron fence at Memorial Cemetery, $53,000 for improvements at the public library; $90,000 to purchase land at the corner of Nourse and Glen streets for possible cemetery use; $50,000 to develop ball fields at the state hospital property; and $75,000 for three police vehicles and related equipment.

In addition, the town authorized borrowing $750,000 for improvements at the Westborough Wastewater Treatment Plant, about 60 percent of which will be reimbursed by Shrewsbury and Hopkinton. They also OK'd spending $450,000 to build a new office building for the Department of Public Works; $900,000 to replace the HVAC system at Fales Elementary School; $363,000 for an emergency communications system for the fire and police departments; $150,000 for a new ambulance; and $45,000 to research constructing a maintenance storage shed at the country club.

A property-rezoning request debated at the end of the meeting was the only article defeated despite Finance Committee recommendations that it be passed.

Article 36 asked the town to rezone from residential to highway business a parcel of land located on Lyman Street, north of Burger King.

The 7.35-acre lot is owned by David A. Brossi Limited Partnership, Framingham developers who want to put an office building on the site.

In an 83-68 vote, residents defeated the article as recommended by the Planning Board until a Town Master Plan is completed.

Arguing that the town would benefit financially from locating a business rather than three single-family homes on the site, John Matson, an attorney for the Brossi family, requested re-examining the article at Town Meeting when it resumes tonight in the high school auditorium at 7.

Providence Journal Story:

1.8.2002 08:12
New police network a show of force
Private security agencies, parking lot attendants and RIPTA bus drivers are being recruited to tip the police quickly to crime downtown.

Top Metro stories:
Last update: 1.12.2002 00:18

City development chief leaving for post in N.C.
Man arrested in bank robbery, second in week in Providence
Success in college topic of seminar
Metro weekend
Through the mill

Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE -- Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. yesterday announced the creation of a security network that would have private and state government security forces work more closely with the city police to fight crime downtown.

The network's primary component is the dedication of a radio channel to be used by the security forces and the police to share information as quickly as possible to deter crime and apprehend wrongdoers.

Police Chief Richard T. Sullivan said the goal is to have "more eyes and ears" helping the police.

For example, he said that if the Downtown Providence Security Network, as it will be called, functions well, a description of a suspect could be broadcast more widely more quickly.

At any given time of day, perhaps 100 people will be in the network, including Rhode Island Public Transit Authority drivers, poised to report trouble to the police, according to Daniel A. Baudouin, executive director of the Providence Foundation.

Twenty-four government agencies and private organizations as varied as Metropark, which operates parking lots, and the Roger Williams University security department have agreed to participate so far, and the effort begins immediately.

The rationale is to make downtown as pleasant a place as possible for people to do business, visit and live.

Cianci said at the announcement in his office, "Remember, no amount of urban revitalization, no amount of money spent, no amount of building refurbishings and construction is going to be effective if people have a perception that it's not safe to come downtown, or that a nice evening in the city has to be accompanied by offensively loud radios, squealing tires and rude behavior on the part of bar or nightclub patrons."

The network was conceived by the Police Department and the Providence Foundation, which is a consortium of businesses and universities whose primary mission is downtown redevelopment.

"It's a very proactive approach to community policing," the chief said later. "It's a more sophisticated kind of a [neighborhood] crime watch."

"Community policing" is a concept based on the "broken windows theory," which says that diligent enforcement of laws against minor infractions discourages more serious crimes by sending the message that the community cares and is in control.

Cianci and Sullivan described the network as a pilot program that they would like to extend to the residential and commercial districts throughout Providence, enlisting crime watch and neighborhood organizations.

Not mentioned at the announcement were other ambitious ideas that have been discussed by network planners, including the use of "Webcams" and the linkage of private surveillance cameras with police cameras. Sullivan said those ideas can be taken up in planners' future meetings.

With a "Webcam," or a computer-linked camera, there could be 24-hour display of video surveillance of parking lots and other locations over the Internet's World Wide Web.

The mayor and the chief stressed the utility of the network in tackling quality-of-life violations rather than preventing high-profile crimes such as murder, although they said there could be an indefinable deterrence for more serious crimes.

Sullivan said the city wants the private sector to be in closer touch with the police because "real-time information" is more valuable. Those private interests won't be expected to change their security practices for the sake of the network, he said.

However, Daniel A. Baudouin, executive director of the Providence Foundation, said the hope is that businesses and government agencies will be more watchful.

"We're hoping that part of the [private] patrol routine can be to go out and look at the sidewalk" and to be more aware of what is happening at the perimeters of a security force's area of responsibility, Baudouin said.

At the same time, officials stressed that they are not deputizing security guards for the purposes of making arrests.

Guards will be expected to communicate what they see and hear to their supervisors or dispatchers, who would be responsible for judging its importance and, if warranted, reporting it on the special radio channel. The telephone would be used for less important reports, such as an auto break-in when no suspect is in the vicinity.

The network, Cianci said, probably will make private security personnel more visible to the public.

Among the network's priorities, he said, are improving street and building lighting and "increasing police and private security presence downtown in a collective show of force."

Although aspects of the network are inspired by a program in Portland, Ore., the concept is not entirely new to Providence.

For years, Amtrak police have been able to communicate with city police by radio. And Sullivan recalled the "Eye Watch" program dating to the early 1990s in which the drivers of radio-equipped RIPTA buses were encouraged to call in tips about trouble or crime.

Some of the cooperating entities have bought or plan to buy new communications equipment to participate in the network, city officials said, but the city does not expect to have to spend any money.

Who is using APCO 25   (unknown as to where this story came from but my guess is Motorola)

If there still were any questions that Project 25 technology has been proven and that compliant systems are available for public-safety applications today, users answered those questions in the last 12 months. This past year saw increasing numbers of agencies at every level - local, state, provincial and federal - implement, buy or plan for Project 25-compliant systems.

The State of Michigan will become the first in the country to install a digital Project 25-compliant trunked communications system.Michigan's second phase implementation will extend the statewide system to the southwestern and western parts of the state, including Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Holland and St. Joseph. At the same time, the system's first phase will be upgraded to include Project 25 trunking, common air interface and encryption. Michigan is only one recent Project 25 story. The State of New Hampshire was an early Project 25 supporter, choosing a Motorola ASTRO conventional digital communications system.

40 other government entities also have made the move to Project 25 compliant conventional systems including Yonkers, New York, and Branford, Connecticut. Correctional Service Canada, the department that manages the Canada's federal correctional facilities, is replacing communications systems in 28 facilities with new ASTRO conventional digital VHF systems that are compliant with the Project 25 standard Sarasota County, Florida, became the first to dedicate one of those systems last October. The cities of Baltimore, Maryland, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Vicksburg, Mississippi, along with the counties of Calhoun and Talladega in Alabama, Jefferson Parish in Louisiana, Fairfax County in Virginia and San Diego County in California moved ahead with installation of their new Motorola digital trunked communications systems, each of which will comply with the Project 25 common air interface. MTS Mobility, a subsidiary of Manitoba (Canada) Telecom Services, announced in January it will extend the company's Motorola trunked communications system provincewide. Compliant with the Project 25 common air interface, the system will support the company's FleetNet™ service, an enhanced, trunked radio-dispatch network, providing users one-to-one or one-to-many wireless communications. Among other customers, the MTS Mobility FleetNet service will support the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Winnipeg Police Service. San Francisco contracted in October for a new ASTRO digital 800 MHz trunked radio communications system, compliant with the Project 25 common air interface. The system is part of the city's overall upgrade to a new enhanced 9-1-1 system with completion targeted for 2000. The San Francisco system will consolidate the city's nine existing radio communications systems into one new system. Motorola will design and manufacture the new mixed-mode analog and digital radio system, providing the software and hardware components for a new communications infrastructure and 1,000 mobile radios and 3,000 portable radios. The City of Los Angeles selected Motorola to design and manufacture a new Project 25-compliant conventional radio system for the Los Angeles Police Department. The ASTRO system will be a UHF, 57-channel, digital, wide-area, simulcast system and be specifically engineered for the city's varied terrain. The Federal Bureau of Investigation contracted in April for 500 new mobile radios that we intend to migrate to compliance with the Project 25 standard. The mobile radios, called ASTRO™ Seneca™, will be designed and manufactured through an alliance between Motorola and Harris Corp. The ASTRO Seneca digital platform will enable a mobile user to incorporate all of the latest and planned future data capabilities, such as remote data base access, imagery transmission, fingerprint identification and position and location tracking. The FBI intends to replace approximately 12,000 radios over the next four and a half years. As the Project 25 standard continues to evolve, Motorola is continuing its work to develop compliant technologies. As everyone involved in the Project 25 process looks back over all that has been accomplished, we can share a tremendous pride in our achievement. The digital communications standard, the technologies to support it, and the systems public-safety users wanted that used them have come together. The result is public-safety professionals now have the systems they knew they would need to manage the challenges of the 21st century.


Open access to police communications is vital

If things progress as planned, pretty soon residents of the Seacoast, state and region will hear no evil — at least not from their police scanners.

As we reported on Sunday, police departments all over the state are switching to a digital radio system that will, as it stands now, prevent the general public from hearing law enforcement information over the traditional, commercially manufactured radio scanners. The goal, from the viewpoint of law enforcement, is to develop an integrated communications system that will allow police to talk freely with their counterparts in far-flung locations.

We fully support this move to integrate communications. It is vital in these post-Sept. 11 days that law enforcement officials be able to get in contact with each other in the event of a major emergency.

In addition to developing an integrated system, however, the switch to digital will preclude anyone who is not part of the law enforcement community — or who has not been given access to its communications — from tuning into police conversations. While it is important to keep criminals in the dark concerning police matters, the new system will also pull the plug on those who either enjoy listening to the activities in the streets of their communities via their scanners or who need access to this information for independent oversight purposes.

Conversion to a digital format will deny the public any information that law enforcement officials do not want to share. It could make law enforcement a closed community and, in doing so, open the system to abuses.

Police in some Seacoast towns have already curtailed information available to the public when it involves data secured from the state Department of Motor Vehicles. A law passed by the state Legislature two years ago sought to prevent personal information contained in that department's records from being openly distributed, and some local police departments have used this law as an excuse not to give out information concerning individuals involved in motor-vehicle accident, fraud or theft cases.

In a free society, which is what America still professes to be even in the wake of the terrorist attacks in September, public oversight of public functions is a necessity. Without that oversight, an agency — any agency, federal, state or local — can do what it wishes including abuse its powers by diminishing individual freedoms.

This is particularly true in the area of law enforcement, where agency powers are extensive and far-reaching. We have already seen the kinds of abuses law enforcement is capable of in some of the major cities in our country.

We are not saying we lack trust in our local police departments; they represent, in many cases, the thin line that separates us from those who would do us harm. However, it is important that the activities of those departments be open to public scrutiny so abuses that could stem from an atmosphere of secrecy do not take place.

We urge the development of digital scanners and, in the meantime, ask local police departments to make available equipment that can convert digital transmissions back into voice communications for private, law-abiding citizens and the press. This equipment should not be supplied free of charge or to people with criminal histories, but it should be available in order to assure the public that law enforcement is, indeed, following the laws it is sworn to uphold.

— Portsmouth Herald




Kevin Noseworthy, a Portsmouth police dispatcher, works at the Emergency Communication Center where computers are digitally linked to police cruisers in the field.
AP Photo

All will soon be quiet on police scanner front

By Michelle Firmbach,

PORTSMOUTH — The traditional police scanner, a familiar tool for emergency workers, fire buffs and journalists, is going silent.

Portsmouth Police Dispatch is converting to a digital communications center.

"You will hear nothing," said Gil Emery, communications supervisor of the Portsmouth Dispatch Center. "You will hear squelch, static."

A federal grant of more than $1 million will provide the funding to convert outdated existing radios systems from analog to digital, thereby allowing the department to communicate with law enforcement statewide.

Portsmouth Police Chief Brad Russ said the grant would allow the department to upgrade its 12-year-old Emergency Communications Center and provide the latest digital technology to its officers. The system's backbone is maintained by State Police.

The pursuit of gunman Carl Drega along the Vermont-New Hampshire border five years ago was limited by outdated police radios. That incident, coupled with the shortfalls identified in the anti-terrorism exercises performed in Portsmouth last year, demonstrates the need for technological improvements.

The new system is designed to impede the crooked methods of criminals tuned into police business and to increase the efficiency of information sharing by rooting out the "dead zones" and providing clear sound.

"The bad guy can't pull an alarm and see how long it takes for us to get there," Emery said.

Digital radios convert voice to 1's and zeros and transmit to other radios over a channel via microwave links. The numbers are then converted back into voice. The mobile components may also be used like a computer to transmit data from one cruiser to another or back to the dispatch center.

"It is a very crisp, clean sound," Emery said. "It sounds like a cellular phone. We will be able to hear the field units better."

There is currently no manufacturer producing a digital police radio scanner. Therefore, the public will seldom hear police business. Instead, static will be left in the place of voice and only limited information will be transmitted over the analog system.

"When we go digital, scanner land will never be able to hear us," Emery said. "They are not going to hear Portsmouth police anymore. Until someone designs a scanner that can copy digital transmission, all they will hear is static."

But, Russ said he would allow transmission of regular radio traffic in analog so the public could listen in even after the department goes completely digital.

"I don't want to cut reporters and the public out of the loop," Russ said. "They can be very helpful. What we would include are things like an assault and the suspect is fleeing in a silver car. On occasion, we have people who call on a cell phone and say I am following that car right now. What we would exclude are things like an alarm at a building where a burglar might have a scanner."

The $1 million grant is in addition to $7 million secured by the Criminal Justice Information Systems Committee as seed funding. That $7 million was earmarked to provide the statewide infrastructure for the new digital microwave communications upgrade and to convert police cruisers statewide to new multichannel, multifrequency radios.

Of the $7 million, Portsmouth received $160,000, which paid for 46 radios equipped with about 126 channels. Thirty-six channels will be unique to individual communities and the remaining 90 will be standardized statewide.

Each individual community is responsible for the purchase of portable radios and the conversion of dispatch centers. The $1 million to Portsmouth will allow for the purchase of 100 new radios at a price tag of about $3,000 and five new dispatch consoles at about $30,000 a piece.

The local public will pay only for the construction of the new dispatch center.

"The construction for the new dispatch center will be in the capital budget," Russ said, "but we don't know what the exact costs will be until the architect provides the council with a report on Dec. 17."

The $1 million grant funding was earmarked in a fiscal year 2002 Justice Department appropriations bill, which moved forward under the guidance of U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., a ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In May 2000, the Justice Department initiated a test of how prepared the Seacoast is for large-scale attacks by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction. Portsmouth was the only small community involved in the major role-playing exercise. Similar mock attacks, involving biological agents, radiation and cyber-hacking, also took place in Washington, D.C., and Denver at exactly the same time.

The Justice Department's domestic preparedness office administered the $6 million exercise, dubbed "Top Off," to test the readiness of top local officials in the Seacoast region, and the state and federal government.

"We wanted to fix any problems in an exercise as opposed to waiting for the real event to find out if we have any gaps in our response," Russ said.

When police were pursuing gunman Carl Drega along the five years ago, their efforts to apprehend the New Hampshire man, who shot and killed four people, including two New Hampshire state troopers, were hampered by outdated police radios that prevented state and federal authorities from effectively coordinating their efforts, Russ said.

"They were all on different frequencies," he said. "If someone has a piece of information that is vital, but can't get quickly to everyone, it can be a significant public safety issue."

The transmission range is limited, Russ added.

"If you're chasing someone or you are up in the mountains of New Hampshire, as they were, or you are out of range on a portable radio, you are not able to speak to your own personnel," Russ said.

Since that tragic shooting, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has secured more than $5.2 million in federal funds for new law enforcement communications equipment and a mobile operations unit, which were unveiled at State Police headquarters in Williston in May. A component of the new system includes a link to New Hampshire's law enforcement communications system.

Similar to that of New Hampshire, the Vermont Interoperability Project will allow Vermont State Police to communicate with other federal state and local law enforcement agencies. During the Drega shootout, Vermont and New Hampshire officers had to jury-rig the communications system by parking two police cruisers next to each other to coordinate activities among the different agencies on the scene because their radios operated on different frequencies.

After the Drega incident, Sens. Gregg and Leahy worked together to add $1 million to the 1998 Department of Justice budget bill for the development of a state-of-the-art, cross-border communications mechanism between the two states.

The Portsmouth Fire Department will remain on the analog system, mostly because of the fact other Seacoast communities will not be converted. And by using the digital radios, the department would cut off dialogue with other local stations, which is vital to incident response.

"One of the benefits of digital is security," said Portsmouth Acting Fire Chief Chris Leclaire. "That is why the police want it, but people can't listen in on them. With us, a lot of our mutual aid depends on communication. We talk to each other on primary frequencies and mutual aid frequencies. The departments listen to the information on the way in. The departments around us need to know what we are doing. They need to know the status of the incident they are responding to."

Some also feel the digital radios are less efficient inside tall buildings.

"If we have firefighters operating inside the building, we need everybody to be able to hear each other," Leclaire said.

Leclaire said the Fire Department would evaluate the new digital system being installed at the Police Department and may consider the purchase of radios with dual capability at a later date.

Gregg will personally present the grant to Russ at 2:15 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10, in City Council chambers. The award is the largest single grant in the history of the Portsmouth Police Department.

Russ said law enforcement officers in the Granite State are privileged to have Gregg as a strong advocate in Congress.

"He is a tremendous advocate for law enforcement and public safety," Russ said. "We're very fortunate to have him in the Senate. This is not the first grant he has helped push through."





from: The Worcester Telegram and Gazette

Town radio system on tap for year-end

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

By Mary Anne Magiera
Telegram & Gazette Staff


HOLDEN-- Despite a dip in the economy, getting money for a new, state-of-the art public safety communications system has turned out to be the easy part.
     It was the lengthy federal licensing process, protracted negotiations with a wireless equipment installer, and finally, a leaking water tower tank that have tested the perseverance of town officials.
     “It has really been a learning process,” said Police Chief George R. Sherrill. As it turns out, he said, “a new public safety radio system is just not something you can buy off the shelf and put into operation.”
     After nearly three years of preparation, a new, more efficient ultra-high-frequency radio communications system is expected to be working by the end of December, according to Dennis J. Lipka, director of growth management. Mr. Lipka is handling the final step of the project -- negotiations with the equipment installer, Sprint Corp., over who pays for what.
     At a cost of $275,000, the new system is the town's largest capital project for public safety in recent years. The new equipment will be made available to the police, fire, public works and municipal light departments.
     “The new system will give us a major, major boost in our ability to get connected and stay connected,” said Town Manager Brian J. Bullock. The new equipment will eliminate many of the dead spots that now plague the 18-year-old “low-band” network, he said.
     “In this era, for public safety personnel not to be in constant communication could be life-threatening,” Mr. Bullock said.
     The money to pay for the system will come from a reserve created by setting aside a portion of the money the town receives annually from the Wachusett Area Emergency Services Fund. One of 11 towns included in the fund, Holden has received $48,000 to $68,000 a year since 1994.
     The Wachusett fund was established by the former Medical Center of Central Massachusetts when it bought and then closed Holden Hospital. A court-filed negotiated agreement calls for payouts to be made annually to the towns whose residents received emergency services at Holden Hospital.
     The need for a new communications system was first highlighted in the spring of 1998, when all three candidates for the then-vacant police chief's job listed it as their top priority during interviews with the town manager.
     “We all had been working with the system. ... There are instances where officers could see each other, but not talk to each other. It had become a citizen safety issue,” said Chief Sherrill, who was one of the three candidates. Holden police can no longer talk to other area police departments or the state police because most have moved to the high-frequency systems, he noted.
     Shortly after becoming chief in the summer of 1998, Chief Sherrill began to research equipment. Then came the Federal Communication Commission license application.
     “There is no priority given to public safety departments. We had to get in line along with everybody else who wanted a license. The process took over a year,” Chief Sherrill said.
     Eventually, the project moved forward. In February, the Board of Selectmen approved an expenditure from the Wachusett fund. The FCC license was approved and equipment was purchased. One of the relay towers was installed on a water tank in the center of town, with a second planned for the Steele Street water tank in the Chaffin section of town near the Worcester line.
     “Everything happened all at once. Sprint applied to the town to install additional towers, the communications upgrade, and the Steele Street tank developed a leak,” said Mr. Lipka.
     The communication project has marked time while town officials have negotiated with Sprint and structural engineers have studied the water tank. However, the time has produced positive results, according to Mr. Lipka.
     The town has struck a deal with Sprint under which the company will install all needed equipment and cable for the new communication system. The company also hired an expert in public safety equipment to provide advice on the project.
     Sprint will also partially fund further study of the water tank to determine whether it is sound enough to hold the equipment. The tank has been drained and will no longer be used as a drinking water supply for the town.
     “We wanted to make sure we negotiated with Sprint for a whole package. It is just taking a lot of time, but, in the end, the town will have a better deal,” Mr. Lipka said.


Maine State police radio upgrade set   Kennnebec Journal Story

PORTLAND — State troopers say their aging two-way radio system is so unreliable and outdated that they cannot properly serve the public.

But they are about to get a fix. Public safety officials plan to spend nearly $10 million to overhaul the 30-year-old system.

Over the next several years, they plan to switch from an analog to a digital communications system, including laptop computers that provide access to multiple databases.

The laptops, the first of which are expected this fall, would allow troopers to retrieve information without a dispatcher, which would help free up airwaves.

"This would be a huge step forward," said Col. Michael Sperry, head of state police.

Troopers say the deteriorating radio system was causing serious problems.

For instance, they said, a trooper looking into a hostage situation couldn't talk to a dispatcher because of radio interference. Another trooper couldn't summons a backup until several miles into a high-speed chase because the radio channel was too busy.

"What's going on is a matter of life and death," said Trooper Mike Edes, head of the 300-member Troopers Association. "That's how serious this problem is and we need to fix it."

The funding for the new system will come from several sources —and not all at once.

State lawmakers this year allocated about $730,000 for the lease and eventual purchase of the laptops. They also promised $287,000 for fiscal 2003 and agreed to allocate $1.7 million each fiscal year from 2004 to 2009, Sperry said.

Aid may also be coming from Congress. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, heavily lobbied by Sperry and Edes, have had $2 million for the project included in a proposed $41.49 billion spending bill for the Departments of Commerce, Justice and State.

State police say the $2 million would help provide immediate relief by allowing for upgrades to towers and equipment maintenance at regional communication centers.


(8/22/2001) ARINC (Aeronautical Radio Inc) -- the company that provides communications services to most major airports across the country has announced it's intention to convert it's existing Trunked Radio Systems to Motorola's IDEN Digital technology Newark Intl Airport is scheduled to be the first airport to be converted.

Complete Press Release

ARINC Launches Wireless Dispatch Service at Major Airports



May 21, 2001

Annapolis, Maryland, USA,—ARINC announced today that deployment of its Wireless Dispatch Service has begun at major airports throughout North America. It is scheduled to be available at the first airport, Newark International, by September 10, 2001. This new service, based on Motorola's world-leading iDEN technology and provided via ARINC's global data communications network, AviNet™, will eventually replace an older analog-based technology or Trunked Radio Service. The service supports mission-critical 'always-on' voice and data dispatch operations at airport ramps, terminal buildings, and cargo facilities to allow for the rapid deployment and data automation of airline, airport, and other tenants' workforces.

The transition from the old analog service to the new Wireless Dispatch Service provides airlines and airports with a flexible form of instant uniform communication that affords six times the use of channels compared to analog. As a very directed form of communication, the Wireless Dispatch Service, when interconnected with ARINC's Wireless and Global Network Services, provides a seamless link between air transport company operational centers and the mobile workforce at various hub airports. This gives ARINC customers the ability to provide data interchange between central flight operations, the aircrew, and the ground crew regardless of their physical location, whether in the air or on the ground. This gives airports the capability to turn an airplane around at the gate in the minimum amount of time while ensuring on-time departures and arrivals.

In launching this service, ARINC has extended its proven capabilities to offer these mission-critical, wide-area, and mobile-campus services to single or multiple campus-based industrial companies via a Virtual Private Network offering. The offering is unique in that it provides a flat rate, non-usage based service - a first for the mobile telecommunications industry.

Typical customers for such a service are oil refineries, assembly plants, and even theme parks where the campus-based customer possesses the dispatch frequencies and already has a deployed analog trunking system, but wishes to upgrade to Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) data capabilities as well as greater voice capacity that translates to 6 to 1 over older technology.

For more information on ARINC's iDEN-based system and its capabilities or to view a detailed service analysis, visit

ARINC Incorporated develops and operates communications and information processing systems for the aviation and transportation industries and provides systems engineering and integration solutions to the government and the aviation industry. ARINC is ISO 9001 certified. Founded in 1929 to provide reliable and efficient radio communications for the airlines, ARINC is headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, with over 3,000 employees worldwide.

For more information, contact:
Robert F. Jefferson