San Francisco channels crisis data

With the opening of a new emergency communications center last week, the

police, fire and other departments in the city and county of San Francisco

can finally talk to each other.

Using 800 MHz wireless technology provided by Motorola Communications

and Electronics Inc., the digital communications system enables emergency

services personnel to interact over 23 voice and six data channels. It also

allows for prioritized use of channels, enabling the officials needed for

a particular emergency — and no one else — to communicate.

"None of this was possible with the old system," said Kerry Dalrymple,

director of client services for San Francisco's emergency communications

department. "Then, there was just one channel that each department had to

use. And departments couldn't talk with each other. Now, the system automatically

picks a free channel that everyone can use, and we can literally assign

hundreds of prioritized talk groups."

The system also covers a much greater area than the old system, she

said, which had several dead spots. Now San Francisco can communicate with

other police forces in the area, something that wasn't possible before.

And staff members are already thinking about what else they can do with

the system, Dalrymple said, adding that they're thinking about a 311 non-emergency

service.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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