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West Shore to benefit from new, improved CREST

Savings of $2 million seen with co-purchase of radios with Vancouver system

A new HRO for local emergency services heroes?

Work is underway implementing new HRO (pronounced hero) technology upgrade that will improve coverage for the CRD’s Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications.

The current system is coming of age and the new HRO system will provide enhanced reliability and coverage, said Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan, chair of the CREST board.

“Much like cell phones, the equipment ages very quickly,” he explained. “HRO upgrades the new P25 platform and will also provide better in-building coverage. It will also allow the system to expand into areas that had spotty coverage due to topography issues.”

CREST general manager Gord Horth said feedback from police, fire and ambulance services on the upgrades has been “very positive so far.” He added, “It’s a big step forward in terms of using proven technology to enhance public safety.”

The $25-million price tag includes the cost of replacing CREST’s existing radios, which was necessary given most are five to 10 years old.

The switchover began about two months ago and is expected to be complete by early 2017, Logan said.

Another benefit of HRO is that it will run in partnership with Emergency Communications for British Columbia, (E-Comm), the largest multi-jurisdictional emergency service radio system in the province.

Because E-Comm is in the process of replacing its radios as well, the CRD was able to save $2 million by bulk purchasing the new radios from Motorola Services Canada together, Logan said. A further advantage is that if either the CREST or the E-Comm system goes down, the other system can handle the service, he added.