Vancouver, B.C.—Today marked a historic moment for the Lower Mainland’s emergency service community as the first of 32 public-safety agencies transitioned to a new best-in-class radio system. Among the key features of the “next generation” radio system and equipment: Greater reliability, water immersion resistance, radio monitoring (enabling dispatchers to remotely activate radio microphones for improved responder safety), noise-cancelling technology to reduce background sounds and allow responders to be heard more clearly in noisy environments, increased coverage, audio clarity and security, GPS tracking, an expanded range of accessories and the ability to add new features through software upgrades in the future.
The New Westminster and Port Moody Police Departments were the first to transition today at approximately 6:30 a.m. with New Westminster Chief Constable Dave Jones and Port Moody Chief Constable David Fleugel each making inaugural broadcasts to their officers. Port Moody and New Westminster police have been using the existing E-Comm radio system since 2000 and 2002 respectively. Combined, both agencies generate more than 1.4 million radio transmissions each year.
“Radios are a tool we rely on heavily when protecting the public,” explained Chief Jones. “The enhanced capabilities with this system will help keep my officers safer during day-to-day events and large-scale emergencies. They are a lifeline.”
Port Moody Chief Constable David Fleugel echoed Chief Jones’ emphasis of the critical role and the impact on officer and public safety, adding that “the new radio system’s features will also greatly enhance policing operations, including providing stronger coverage and improved audio clarity as officers cross municipal boundaries during the course of their duties or in really tricky locations such as underground parking garages and building basements where signal strength can be a challenge.”
The replacement of the existing regional radio network is the largest and most complex technology project E-Comm and its emergency-service partners have undertaken since the current radio system was first implemented 1999. Police officers, firefighters and paramedics using the current E-Comm regional radio network (800 MHz EDACS – Enhanced Digital Access Communications System), are all transitioning to the new $60 million system in a phased approach that is scheduled through to the end of 2017. This is a planned replacement, with the new network based on digital radio technology known as Project 25 (P25) in the 700 MHz band, an open standard that public-safety agencies across North America have widely adopted. The P25 technology was selected and endorsed by the Lower Mainland emergency services community following more than a year of consultation, analysis and testing.
“The importance of a high-performing radio system for our public safety partners cannot be overstated,” said E-Comm President and CEO David Guscott. “While the previous network has served our region well for close to 18 years, the P25 system is more advanced, more rugged and more resilient.”
The P25 network is also fully encrypted, meaning first responder communication will be kept extra secure and the privacy of the public who are being assisted by emergency services will be better protected during the necessary transmittal of personal and private information over the voice network.
The new radio system will be used by 32 emergency-service agencies including all police departments and BC Emergency Health Services (BC Ambulance Service) in Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford, in addition to 12 fire departments in Metro Vancouver and the BC Conservation Service. Approximately 8,000 new radios will be deployed generating more than 130 million transmissions each year. Because this is a planned transition, the annual cost of the new radio network will be about the same as the annual cost of the current network, even with its enhanced features. The new radio system is expected to have an operational lifespan of 15 or more years.
Audio of inaugural radio broadcasts by New Westminster Chief Constable Dave Jones and Port Moody Chief Constable David Fleugel, video clips of Chief Jones’ broadcast and interview along with photos/b-roll footage of New Westminster Police officers available below.
E-Comm operates the largest multi-jurisdictional, tri-service emergency radio system in the province and is the largest 9-1-1 call centre in Canada, handling approximately 1.36 million emergency calls per year for Metro Vancouver and 24 other regional districts and communities spanning from Vancouver Island to Alberta and from the U.S. border, to north of Prince George. E-Comm also provides call-taking and dispatch services to 35 police agencies and fire departments in southwest B.C. For more information visit https://ecomm911.ca/
For more information, please contact:
Acting Sergeant Jeff Scott
New Westminster Police Department
Constable Angela Fisher
Port Moody Police Department