Saratoga County, N.Y., is creating a countywide communications system that will provide interoperability with state, county and local agencies. As part of the setup, the county has inked an $11.8 million contract for a Project 25 (P25) trunking system and other equipment with the Enterprise Mobility Solutions business of Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola.

The Saratoga County system will use a 12-site, 700/800 megahertz (MHz) trunked IP-based P25 network to provide countywide digital radio coverage across nearly 850 square miles for law enforcement, fire and other first responders. The system also includes new dispatch equipment, including eight Motorola MC7500 IP consoles at the county jail and four MC7500 consoles at the County Complex in Ballston Spa, to dispatch calls to first responders.

"The current radio system is over 20 years old, and the need for interoperable mission-critical communications has been a priority ever since the tornadoes that touched down in Mechanicville and Stillwater in 1998," said Paul Lent, director of emergency services, Saratoga County. "In a major emergency like a tornado, no single agency has all the necessary tools and resources. These events demonstrate how imperative it is that government agencies throughout the county have interoperable communications so they can seamlessly communicate with each other."

Project 25 is the functional and technical American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for digital two-way radios developed in a joint standards effort between the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, International Inc. (APCO), the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors (NASTD) and numerous federal sponsor agencies.

The Motorola system will rely on P25 technology on Motorola's XTL and XTS series of digital mobile and portable radios, which can operate in 800 MHz and 700 MHz. The system also includes integrated voice and data, GPS location, data applications and software that is upgradeable to the APCO P25 Phase 2 TDMA standards.

"The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors believes the new countywide communications system is an important project for the county to undertake and will be a valuable tool in providing enhanced communications between public safety agencies throughout the county," said Mindy Wormuth, chair of the Saratoga County Public Safety Committee. "The board is dedicated to the successful completion of the project and looks forward to the day when our first responders will be using the new system."

The new network will allow Saratoga County to manage and monitor who is communicating, when they communicate and to whom they communicate. That control will let the county designate priority access to first responders to help ensure seamless mission-critical communications regardless of the number of users accessing the network.

"Saratoga County has been focusing on creating interoperable radio communications for several years, and this new system will provide us with state-of-the-art technology that we need to enhance the protection of our citizens and our first responders," Lent said. "Our new Motorola system will give us advanced capabilities, such as increased frequencies, talk groups, system redundancies and advanced interoperability for agencies throughout the county."

In addition to Saratoga County, other New York counties that have recently selected Motorola P25 trunking systems to meet their mission-critical communications needs include Tompkins County, Onondaga County, Madison County, Nassau County, Rockland County and Oswego County.

According to Motorola, the Saratoga County communications system should be up and running in early 2011.