Static Age: The City of Dallas's Radio Network Is In Sorry Shape. And the Fix Won't Be Cheap.

From this afternoon's council briefing, a look at how Dallas's radio network operates. So easy a second grader could read it.
From this afternoon's council briefing, a look at how Dallas's radio network operates. So easy a second grader could read it.

Last week, the city council was all ready to vote on -- and OK, since it was on the consent agenda -- spending $8,723,971 in Homeland Security dough on about 2,000 Motorola multi-band mobile radios for Dallas Fire-Rescue and the Dallas Police Department. But at the last minute, the item was pulled from the consent agenda by Mayor Tom Leppert. When a Friend of Unfair Park asked why late last week, I turned to Leppert's chief of staff for an answer. His response: Leppert simply needed more time to review the item before it went to council.

Hence, this afternoon's briefing to the council's Public Safety Committee, which paints an awful picture of the state of the city's radio network. Long story short: It's a wideband, analog wreck that's decades out of date and a long way from complying with the so-called Project 25 standards that demand all emergency radios -- belonging to anyone, anywhere -- talk to each other. Dallas's radio are woefully anqituated -- so much so, says the presentation going before council shortly, that 70 percent of Dallas's radio equipment "is currently not supported by the manufacturer," meaning if they go bad, it's off to eBay to scout for parts.

From the looks of the time line, Dallas is more than two years off from implementing Project 25 standards -- and it won't be cheap, what with the total package running $99,333,755, much of that from the 2012 bond program. But it needs to get on the ball pronto: The city needs to spend get 840 new radios for the Super Bowl, lest an emergency arise and Dallas officers and rescue workers find themselves having difficulties chatting with their counterparts in surrounding cities. Which would be bad. Real bad.


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