Dooley signs $75 million pact for countywide interoperable radio system

County Executive Charlie A. Dooley today — Dec. 15 — added the final signature to a $75 million contract with Motorola Solutions that signals the beginning of modern interoperable radio communications for police officers, firefighters, paramedics and essential local government support organizations throughout the county.

“This new communications system will end a troubling problem in our emergency communications system,” Dooley stated in a news release. “Every emergency response agency in the region will be able to speak to one another 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in any conditions. When you’re reacting to an emergency or disaster, timely communication between agencies can mean the difference between life and death.”

Traditionally, emergency response agencies and departments operated on their own individual radio systems, making coordination for daily work and emergency incidents cumbersome and time-consuming. County voters approved an Emergency Communications Sales Tax of one-tenth of a cent on Nov. 3, 2009. With funding secured, the St. Louis County Emergency Communications Commission moved forward with a plan to bring more than 150 agencies and organizations under a single radio communications umbrella and give them the ability to directly communicate by radio with each other.

This morning’s final execution of the Motorola contract concluded a yearlong effort in which vendor responses for the competitively bid radio system were evaluated by a multidiscipline team from area fire, police, and local agencies. The final recommendation from the evaluation team to select Motorola Solutions was approved by both the St. Louis County Emergency Communications Commission and the County Council.

The county and Motorola now will work together to design, build, deploy and operate one of the largest local radio systems in the Midwest. A new radio system network and more than 9,000 digital vehicle-mounted and handheld radios in the field will combine to create improved coverage for public safety first-responders and local government workers within the county.

Regionally, the new system will allow public safety agencies to communicate with other such agencies from adjacent counties in the St. Louis Area. In addition, all of the public safety and local governments within St. Louis County are currently mandated by the Federal Communications Commission to modify — or “narrowband” — how radio frequencies are used by their older, individual systems. The implementation of the new countywide radio system negates both the need and the cost for agencies to go through this narrowbanding process, the release stated.

Questions regarding the new interoperable radio system can be directed to David “Duff” Barney, director for the Emergency Communications Commission, at (314) 615-2562.