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Wake commissioners eye upgrades to 911, radio systems

Posted March 11, 2013

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— The Wake County Board of Commissioners is considering an overhaul to its 911, radio and emergency dispatch systems, which could cost taxpayers more than $30 million.

Dispatchers in Wake County handle about 50,000 calls per day on the current system, which is very reliable, but, as of 2016, will be out-of-date, county leaders said Monday. 

"What we're hearing today is the need to have upgrades and have a new system," said county commission Chairman Joe Bryan. "We're getting out ahead of that."

The Motorola hardware used in the current system is no longer manufactured, and additional upgrades – including adding tower sites or dispatch consoles – are no longer available. Technical support also expires for the products on Dec. 31, 2015.

In 2008, the county completed a comprehensive review of its radio system, which identified the need for an overhaul. In 2010, they began evaluating different options.

On Monday, 911 system leaders presented commissioners with details on four possible plans:

  • continuing a partnership with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, which carries a price tag of about $31 million;
  • combining resources with the Town of Cary for about $30.9 million;
  • creating a completely independent system for about $32.2 million;
  • or creating an independent system that coincides with the opening of a new public works operations center in north Raleigh.

This story is closed for comments.

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  • Smitty1976 Mar 12, 2013

    I think it is a shame that the first item on the cutting board during any budget process is Public Safety. Our Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and other Public Safety personnel are not paid enough for what they do now. Those that want the budget cuts will be the first to complain or present a lawsuit when they have a delay in Emergency Response !! Just My 2 cents!!

  • maduda Mar 12, 2013

    As the Highway Patrol upgrades the VIPER system (which is what the County uses now) to P25, it will increase the number of available users 2x. The county needs to remain on the VIPER system, as its interoperability is the biggest reason it was created (in the wake of Sept. 11th). A vast majority of the funds for the VIPER system came from Homeland Security grants and funds-matching programs. The County has so many talkgroups (channels) on the system that, with the exception of when a major storm system comes through and ties them all up, there is only a need to upgrade the infrastructure. It would actually be wise for Cary to put their Public Safety units on the VIPER system and use their private system for town operations.

    Regardless, it's going to be expensive no matter what the County does. As a Wake County firefighter and state employee who works with all these systems, I'd vote in favor of cuts in public assistance and in favor of upgrades for Public Safety equipment.

  • Garneralum03 Mar 11, 2013

    Closest unit dispatch will not happen anytime soon for Fire. A couple of reasons why.....

    They are already trying to consolidate some departments in Wake County as cost savings. The change in dispatch would require all trucks to be outfitted with GPS devices. They would also have to make all resources similar which means more money on equipment.

    Quite frankly, there are a number of things that need to take budget cuts before public safety.

  • yinyangtkdgirl Mar 11, 2013

    They need to look into going to a closest unit Police, Fire, and EMS response in the county dispatch system. Always getting what is closest to your house would be a great start for the commissioners to decide on.


    They already dispatch this way.

  • yinyangtkdgirl Mar 11, 2013

    "what a waste of resources"....only until you need to dial 911

  • Icaretoo Mar 11, 2013

    Why did we not use the money distributed after 9/11/01? I have heard of some wasted spending of those funds. Someone needs to be accountable!

  • RonnieR Mar 11, 2013

    In Wake EMS gets closest ambulance response, fire gets closest engine and the dept that covers the district, if different, police are limited in territorial jurisdiction, so you may not be able to get the closest one.

  • disgusted2010 Mar 11, 2013

    Hopefully they will run from the train wreck that is the Highway Patrol.

  • WooHoo2You Mar 11, 2013

    HOw about upgrading my phone bill and remove that nasty charge.-whatelseisnew

    So you want access to 911 but don’t want to pay for it? Typical ‘entitlement crowd!!!’

  • WFgunOwner Mar 11, 2013

    They need to look into going to a closest unit Police, Fire, and EMS response in the county dispatch system. Always getting what is closest to your house would be a great start for the commissioners to decide on.