Communications upgrades are worthy purchase

Published 5:58 pm Friday, January 6, 2012

Thursday, the Decatur County Board of Commissioners tentatively approved spending anywhere from $1.5 million to $2 million to significantly upgrade the county’s emergency services communication system. While that is a lot of money to spend, especially in this era of tight budgets, it is important to note that the commissioners’ hands are somewhat tied.

The federal government has mandated that all analog and digital communications must switch from wide-band (25 kHz) to narrow-band (12.5 kHz) by the year 2013. The county’s communications system is currently an analog-based wide-band system, and does not satisfy the 2013 requirements.

If the county had done the “bare minimum” and only purchased new narrow-band-compliant analog equipment, the cost would have been approximately $700,000. However, this bare-bones move would have resulted in even less coverage than the county’s public safety officers currently have.

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By approving upgrades to a full digital system with multiple communication sites, the county will improve its communications network considerably. When an officer or firefighter is in the field and has to call out for help or assistance, it is pivotal that the network allow him or her to contact those who can assist. It’s a hard pill to swallow because of the initial cost, but it’s an upgrade that will meet the needs of our emergency personnel not just now but years from now.

The county could have certainly met the 2013 requirements by spending less, but we believe it’s important to spend a little more now and do the job right.