Homeland Security and Public Safety

L.A. County Upgrades Interoperability, Braces for LTE

Twin-screen consoles will allow public safety dispatchers to form talk groups and track units in the field.

Los Angeles County first responders will gain interoperability and be equipped for the future when the sheriff’s and fire departments have more than 140 public safety radio dispatch consoles replaced over the next year.

The new twin-screen consoles will allow public safety dispatchers to see which units are in the field and available, and will have the shortest response time for incidents. The deployment will also allow county fire dispatchers to connect directly to nearby fire agencies with the touch of a button, and several counties will be able to form talk groups on radio channels for immediate communications with dispatchers. In addition, the new consoles will allow fire agencies to communicate with mutual aid groups more easily.

The new consoles will aid law enforcement as well. “These radio consoles are the first step in improving interoperability throughout the region,” Scott Edson, commander of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Communications and Fleet Management Bureau, said in a press release. “They allow our public safety response dispatchers to more efficiently serve the deputies in the field, including ‘patching’ other radio systems together.”

The $12.5 million contract with Raytheon will upgrade more than 50 consoles for the county fire department and 88 for the sheriff’s department.

T.J. Kennedy, Raytheon’s director of public safety and security, said the Los Angeles County agencies are catching up with society. “As the world has gone digital, so has police and fire dispatch.”

“Think of a touchscreen computer much like an iPad but now the dispatchers will have the ability to (on multiple screens) have communication channels where they need to be able to click on a particular radio console channel and talk to multiple agencies on multiple frequencies all with the touch of a button,” Kennedy said.

The new consoles also set up the county for the onset of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies.

“When we move to LTE we’re going to have so much more ability to send video and data and send other things that today we don’t necessarily have and these consoles will integrate with LTE,” Kennedy said.

“The other thing is,” he said, “is this is really being built to open standards, and having an open architecture as we move forward is really important for public safety professionals because you can add on future technologies that may not have been invented yet.”

Jim McKay  |  Editor

Jim McKay is the editor of Emergency Management. He lives in Orangevale, Calif., with his wife, Christie, daughter, Ellie, and son, Ronan. He relaxes by fly fishing on the Truckee River for big, wild trout. Jim can be reached at jmckay@emergencymgmt.com.