RIVERSIDE – An all-digital radio system activated earlier this month for sheriff’s operations is exceeding expectations, Riverside County Undersheriff Colleen Walker told the Board of Supervisors today.
”We’re thrilled with the new system,” Walker said.
She described an incident in Joshua Tree over the weekend during which a sheriff’s sergeant could not get a signal on his mobile phone, ”but his radio worked splendidly.”
”That’s never happened for us before,” Walker told the board.
Since the new system went live on Jan. 5, 1.4 million transmissions have occurred with little or no interference, according to the county’s chief information officer, Kevin Crawford,
County CEO Jay Orr said the goal now is to persuade municipalities to switch over to the system to integrate all area law enforcement communications onto a common network.
The Public Safety Enterprise Communication System replaced a decades-old analog system that county officials said was susceptible to dropouts when deputies went into remote areas.
The PSEC switchover was originally scheduled a year ago, but technical hiccups delayed it, first to July 2013 and then to the start of 2014. The $150 million project was initiated in 2007.
The PSEC network, built by Motorola, is not impeded by terrain, buildings and other ”blind spots” that can leave deputies without the means to communicate with dispatchers and each other, according to county officials.
According to Crawford, the new system boasts 95 percent reliability, meaning that for every 100 communication streams, only 5 will be interrupted or delayed. The PSEC network covers about 86 percent of the 7,300-square-mile county, and users can seamlessly tap four separate voice and data channels, including a 4.9 GHz broadband stream, for real-time delivery of information.
Scanner hobbyists are no longer able to tune in sheriff’s communications. The new system utilizes signal encryption that prevents the general public from hearing what’s being transmitted or received, much like a satellite channel that cannot be accessed without a passkey, according to the Department of Information Technology.
Officials said PSEC equipment has to be custom programmed before any sheriff’s channels can be received.