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County Q&A: Why should you monitor Police/Fire Radio sites?

We interviewed county public-safety agencies (911, police, fire) across the United States to discover why they monitor their remote radio & network sites. Here's what they said:

Monitoring your remote radio & network sites is tremendously important - and it's really not that complicated if you do it correctly. This diagram shows some typical monitoring techniques used by county agencies.

Q: Why monitor your public-safety radio sites?

A: "Because we operate in a 911 environment, it's better to know early rather than later if something happens. If they are trying to dispatch fire, EMS, or public safety to an event and the microwave is down, it means the radios at that site can't be operated either. We are monitoring nine tower sites, plus our 911 center."

-Fred Marvin, Steuben County Office of Emergency Services

A: "Our system is a 28-site microwave ring system. It's a closed system - only on our network."

-Tim Simonson, Kitsap County CENCOM

A: "I can't give you specific numbers because of security reasons, but we have a (significant) number of remote sites."

-Steve Palumbo, Lancaster County-Wide Communications

Q: What problems did your county face with an outdated monitoring system?

A: "When we put in our 911 center, we had a [legacy] alarm system, which was just LED lights and was cumbersome."

-Fred Marvin, Steuben County Office of Emergency Services

A: "The cost of the upgrade to maintain an older system that had limited functionality was going to cost as much or more as it did to purchase a completely new system. It's hard to get any response out of them. Documentation was hard to find, their websites were unreadable."

-Tim Simonson, Kitsap County CENCOM

Q: What's the advantage of a good monitoring system for public agencies?

A: "When we looked at [a modern solution], we found the solution to ALL our alarm and monitoring issues. It took me a day or so to get all the alarms built in [our SNMP manager] and to play with formatting for the alerting messages that will be emailed and sent to phones for the radio techs. It's been a great experience. It's working well for us."

-Tim Simonson, Kitsap County CENCOM

A: "The system we've established using the NetGuardian will help LCWC to manage the alarms at each [remote site]. We'll be able to plug the [RTU] into the switch at each remote site, reconfigure them with a new IP addresses, and we'll be good to go."

-Steve Palumbo, Lancaster County-Wide Communications

A: "We are getting analog inputs for generator voltage and microwave signal fade... Discrete alarms might be door entry, or temperature high/low, things like that."

-Fred Marvin, Steuben County Office of Emergency Services

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