Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Council reviews proposal for new $32 million city-wide 800 MHz radio system

UPDATE -- 9:00 pm July 20th, 2011
Council voted 15 to 3 approving the new radio system.  
The system is anticipated to be initiated and operational within 18-months.

UPDATE -- 6:40 pm July 20th, 2011
Council's Joint Safety and Finance Committee concluded testimony regarding the Administration's proposed new county-wide radio system.  A major issue discussed was why the Administration has not considered utilizing the Ohio MARCS P25 system being planned for implementation in Cuyahoga County on September 1, 2011.

Initially the Administration claimed there were technical issues pertaining to 1) interference on the MARCS system's 700 MHz syestem coming from Canada as well as 2) system capacity issues, i.e., the MARCS system for Cuyahoga County was described as being limited to only 15-channels.

After several conversations with Ohio MARCS staff, Council confirmed that in fact the interference issue is set to be eliminated as of August 1st and that the MARCS Cuyahoga system is designed to initially run with 15-channels but can also be upgraded to 30 channels when needed.

The comparison of potential systems therefore breaks down to approximately:

  1. Administration's proposed system - $32 million; 30-channel county-wide system, plus utilization of an 11-channel P25 system run by the Southwest Regional Communications Network.
  2. Potential City of Cleveland/Ohio MARCS Cuyahoga system - $26 million; 30-channel city-wide system, plus utilization of an 15-channel (expandable to 30[channels) P25 system run by Ohio MARCS Cuyahoga.
The end result could be as much as a $6 million savings.  But, Council is expected to vote on the Administration's proposal this evening by 9:30 pm under an emergency ordinance and suspension of the rules requiring three-readings.  The vote would come after only two committee hearings (Safety on 7/12; and Safety and Finance today).  Motorola submitted proposals first in September 2010 and then revisions in March 2011.

The City has $11 million in bonding accrued to-date for the $32-million dollar system.  With continuing lower revenues and increasing costs of utilities and services, a potential $6 million in savings should warrant more time and deliberations. 


Cleveland City Council's Public Safety Committee met yesterday to review proposed legislation for a $32 million city-wide 800 MHz radio system.  The system would replace one purchased in 1993 that serves over 5,000 radio users across departments and divisions that include Public Safety, Public Works, Public Utilities, City Courts, Building & Housing, Port Control and more.

See the presentation given to Council today here.  

The new system would utilize up-to-date standards and comply with The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Project 25, which is an open source system developed to address emergency communications systems in the United States.  Motorola is being proposed to be awarded the contract.

According to the administration, the new system would enable the City to communicate with the County and State of Ohio Multi-Agency Radio Communications System (MARCS); would drastically improve reliability, redundant coverage and operation; and would integrate with the Southwest Regional Communications Network that is composed of 8 of the County's 59 municipalities - Brookpark, Berea, Middleburg Heights, North Royalton, Parma Heights, Olmsted Falls, Olmsted Township, and Strongsville.

Presently there are 47 different types of radio systems currently being used in Cuyahoga County, due to the different set of frequency bands used by the various public safety agencies.  The new system would include the use of 14 radio towers up from the current 8 the City of Cleveland uses today, which would expand the city's radio coverage area.

The current system was purchased by Motorola, 18-years ago and has had multiple failures reported in 2008, 2009 and 2011.  Annual maintenance costs for systems such as Cleveland's range from $1 to $3 million.  The Jackson Administration began the process to replace the current system in January 2009.

In addition to Motorola being proposed as the vendor, The Administration is also seeking approval for a $552,000 contract with RCC Consultants.  RCC was utilized to assist in the pre-bid analysis of the project through a grant from the US Department of Justice.  The legislation is expected to be heard for a second time next Wednesday in City Council's Committee of the Whole and a vote is expected the same day.

REF:  City of Cleveland Request For Proposal - 800 MHz APCO P25 Radio System

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