Cortland County Emergency Radio System Goes Live Today, Analog Scanners No Longer Work
After months of planning and preparation, Cortland County's new $16 million dollar emergency communications network is set to go live today. The new system will improve communication among first responders, but it will leave the public in the dark when it comes to listening to emergencies.
What started several years ago in response to missed calls, spotty communication among rescuers, and little to no ability to talk directly with fellow emergency workers has resulted in a multi-million dollar update to Cortland County's emergency radio network.
County Emergency Communications Director Scott Roman says the new system which was designed and built by Motorola is ready to go on-line today. Roman says the system has passed required and testing and is confident that the transition today should go smoothly.
The old system will continue running to ensure a seamless change-over.
Roman says the new radio system will provide first responders with better coverage, eliminating many dead zones in the current system that leaves police and firefighters without the ability to talk with each other or the county 9-1-1 center. The new system will also include local highway departments, county health department, and other public agencies.
The county received over $10 million dollars in state and federal funding for the $16 million dollar update, which required the county to build several new radio towers. The county borrowed money for the towers which is being paid back over 30 years.
While first responders will have a better handle of whats going on during an emergency, residents with police and fire scanners who monitor emergencies will no longer be able to hear what's going on unless they purchase a new digital scanner.
Roman eventually the county needs to look at the installation of a new mass notification system as part of this system upgrade. The notification system would be used to alert the public in case of an emergency, the current reverse 9-1-1 system is tied to land lines which are quickly being phased out by many people in favor of cell phones.
Roman is looking for grant funding to purchase new cellular based technology that could notify large number of people in the event of an emergency.