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Huntsville-Madison County 9-1-1 Roll-outs Countywide Radio Infrastructure

August 13, 2012

(Huntsville, AL) - The Huntsville-Madison County 9-1-1 System Board of Commissioners is pleased to announce the initial loading of the new Countywide Public Safety Radio System. The five-site digital interoperable voice radio system is the culmination of six years of careful planning and coordination among all public safety entities-law enforcement, fire & rescue, and EMS-within Madison County, including the cities of Huntsville and Madison.

The infrastructure is nearly complete, and the system will go "live" pending final testing, evaluation, and adjustment. Madison County Sheriff Department (MCSD) has agreed to be the first agency to test the radio infrastructure and will provide feedback for the system's final adjustments. County Sheriff subscriber units (handheld and mobile radios) have been programmed and are ready to evaluate the system.

"We are excited about being the first on the system," said Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning. "We anticipate significant improvement over our old system right off the bat."

Ernie Blair, CEO and Radio Infrastructure Director of HMC 9-1-1, said Madison County Sheriff's Department is the ideal agency to "shake down" the system. "They have a large jurisdiction covering all of Madison County and they deploy fewer units at any given time than other agencies," said Blair.

MCSD's current VHF system has "dead spots" in several areas of the county. The new P-25 digital system covers 97.5% of Madison County and the Huntsville and Madison jurisdictions in Limestone County, according to validation tests in early August.

Once the Sheriff's testing is complete and the FCC finalizes its approval of additional frequencies to the system, the remaining public agencies will become operational on the new radio system in the next few weeks.

An FCC unfunded mandate to "narrowband" their radio systems by January 1, 2013 drove several public safety agencies to seek a new radio system, and an aging City of Huntsville radio infrastructure required the remaining agencies to look for alternatives. HMC 9-1-1 funded an engineering feasibility study in 2008, which demonstrated that cooperation to construct a combined countywide radio infrastructure would provide all agencies a better, more cost effective, and more capable system than if each agency independently built their own.

The Huntsville-Madison County 9-1-1 Center provides co-located call taking and dispatching for all public safety agencies in Madison County, including Madison County Sheriff Department, Madison County Fire Department, Huntsville Police Department, Huntsville Fire & Rescue, the City of Madison Police Department, Madison Fire Department, and HEMSI (Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Inc.). Established in 1992, it is the largest 9-1-1 Center in the State of Alabama and was selected as the logical organization to lead the Countywide Public Safety Radio Infrastructure Project. A Radio Advisory Committee made up of appointees from each public safety agency worked for over three years to define, specify, and coordinate the project.

The Madison Countywide Radio Infrastructure is linked to a similar system in Baldwin County for interoperability and roaming. HMC 9-1-1 was funded by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to construct additional radio sites in Montgomery and in Clanton to provide interoperable communications with state emergency officials. HMC 9-1-1 is cooperating with other city, county, and state officials promoting a goal of a future network for seamless interoperable radio voice communications throughout the state.


For more information, contact:

Ernie Blair Huntsville-Madison County 9-1-1 System, (256) 722-7341 or eblair@madco911.com


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