Greater Victoria first responders will be working with a new hero.
An upgraded radio system called HRO, pronounced hero, is coming to the Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST), courtesy a new partnership with Motorola Solutions Canada. The new technology infrastructure provides a new $13.1-million regional radio system for the 50 emergency response agencies across the Capital Regional District.
“The new Project 25 (P25) system will mean a significant improvement in audio quality for all users,” said CREST board chair Gordie Logan. “(It’s) much better in building penetration and the ability to re-allocate infrastructure to the West Shore or the Peninsula, giving the users in those areas even better coverage.”
Motorola will supply equipment for the migration to the P25 radio technology and also serves the Emergency Communications (E-Comm) for British Columbia Inc.
E-Comm owns and operates the largest multi-jurisdictional, tri-service emergency radio system in B.C., servicing first responders in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. Logan said E-Comm went through a very rigorous procurement process in 2014, involving a number of vendors and selected Motorola. He said that process helped save millions of dollars through procurement and volume pricing, saving taxpayers money while providing key safety improvements for the public.
“This alignment also provides a greater level of resiliency and interoperability for both organizations, with CREST and E-Comm providing backup for each other should a key piece of infrastructure fail – something that does not exist for either organization today,” Logan said.
In 2014, CREST shareholders approved a $24.5-million investment in a five-year plan involving the installation of the new transmitters and receivers, the conversion of existing radio to P25 compatible and the purchase of new radios.
Infrastructure costs account for approximately $13.1 million, a little more than half the budget. Local shareholders include fire departments, police departments and ambulance services across the CRD, where more than 7.5 million calls go through the system every year, approximately one call every four seconds.
“Criminals and natural disasters don’t recognize borders, and nor should radio systems,” Logan said. “CREST’s alignment with E-Comm on the Lower Mainland means a seamless transition for police, fire and other users when they cross the water.”
The transition to the HRO system is currently underway, with infrastructure changes happening in advance of the receipt of the new radios.