Statewide radio network resolves miscommunication in emergencies.
Until recently, the Arkansas police radio network was a patchwork of systems, and troopers often had trouble using the radios to talk with anyone outside of their home counties. In addition, several state agencies were on different radio systems, and localagencies had their own radio networks, making coordinated communication difficult during emergencies.
In 2006 the state upgraded the old state police analog radio system — tower sites, computers, software and radio equipment — to a digital, 700/800 megahertz (MHz) system that could be used by all state agencies and cities and counties. Funded by $20 million in bond funds from the Arkansas State Police and Homeland Security grants, the upgrade included adding tower sites in five counties and deploying equipment to the first responder leadership in all 75 counties in the state. The new system is a standards-based 700/800 MHz Motorola ASTRO25 IP network, consisting of two master sites, 72 radio frequency sites, 22 console locations, and three high-performance data locations, providing statewide interoperable communication and integrated voice and data capabilities to 13,000 users.
Now, state police troopers, heads of localagencies, county governments, divisions, hospitals and other groups in all counties have state radios connected to the network. Several local public safety entities have migrated to the network for daily operations, but for those who only use the network in emergencies, individuals have been assigned responsibility to pass along information they receive over their state radios to their employees using the agencies' local radio systems.
The network received a 2008 Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Information Technology in State Government from the Lexington, Ky.-based National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) in September.
Project: Arkansas Wireless Information Network (AWIN)
Agencies involved: Arkansas' first responder community, Arkansas State Police, Department of Information Services (DIS), Department of Emergency Management and Governor's office
Vendor: Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola
Date completed: June 2007
Cost: $94 million