Aug 11 2022
Public Safety

Pennsylvania Counties’ 911 Center Joins Statewide Radio Network

Local governments expand interoperability and save money with the move, officials say.

The Columbia-Montour County 911 Center, operating as the East Central Emergency Network (ECEN), recently transitioned to the Pennsylvania Statewide Radio Network (PA-STARNet), the commonwealth’s state-of-the-art Project 25 (P25) radio network for public safety and emergency response communications.

The network is expected to provide coverage for more than 95 percent of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to 22 state agencies, including county and municipal agencies. These agencies span from call and dispatch centers for emergency response to businesses and the state legislature.

Based on simplex radios, the legacy system used by ECEN requires the use of stations that must individually send and receive signals. The transition will use duplex systems that can do both simultaneously, StateScoop reports.

“We saw a need to upgrade our legacy infrastructure and try to find a way to come to a new communications solution,” Jeremy Brown, director of ECEN, tells the publication.

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Transition Expands Law Enforcement Access and Saves Money

The effort will also integrate ECEN into a network, allowing it to be in sync with state and federal law enforcement efforts.

“Joining PA-STARNet means that our first responders and partnering local and federal agencies are able to communicate seamlessly across Columbia and Montour Counties, neighboring counties and the commonwealth,” Montour County Commissioner Trevor Finn said in a press release. “No matter where an emergency happens, our residents can count on a rapid and coordinated emergency response.”

The network was developed and is maintained by Motorola Solutions, which operates more than 1,100 networks for first responders across North America. Pennsylvania hired Motorola in 2016 to upgrade its communications network to an open-standard platform to boost interoperability and expand options for communications tools among state and local agencies.

EXPLORE: How the future of emergency response could change 911-related service delivery.

“Pennsylvania has long recognized and invested in land mobile radio as the mission-critical communications technology of the future,” Michael Leonard, Mid-Atlantic territory vice president for Motorola Solutions, said in a press release. “Advancements in P25 technology, interoperability and devices bring added features and greater potential for collaboration to the reliability and resilience that are the hallmarks of LMR.”‘

According to Robert Barnham, director of the Statewide Radio Network Division, the measures yield another dividend: saving taxpayer dollars. “This effort will substantially reduce our overall operating cost, including maintenance and utilities. We’re pleased and proud to formally introduce a system that not only improves the safety of our citizens but saves them money in the process,” he says.

The transition could also help as agencies across the country move toward Next Generation 911-compliant platforms, allowing for the rapid sharing of radio, video, text and other real-time data and intelligence to law enforcement nationwide.

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