Houston still depends on old emergency radio system

KHOU-11 revisits a topic it first brought to light in early 2005 -- HPD's aging radio system. A year and a half ago, KHOU discovered a 2003 taxpayer-funded city study that concluded the radio system Houston's emergency personnel are using is outdated and unreliable. As a bonus, an outspoken former HPD officer is featured in the story.

Here's the conclusion of that 2005 story:

Nearly a year and a half ago the SWISS report suggested a solution: That Houston fast track its move to a new digital radio system, like ones already online in Harris County and many other cities. But the city has failed to even seek bids on the design of that new system.

It would appear that nothing much has changed since then. Jeff McShan has more:

This is a problem we’ve been tracking for more than a year.

Exactly five 5-years after 9/11 the Houston police department is acutely aware that should an attack happen here, communication would be a problem.

In its new monthly in-house publication, the department admits there are limitations with its police radio system, largely due to the age of the equipment.

Replacing the system, going from analog to digital, which would require new equipment department-wide, would cost approximately $150-to-160 million.

That’s money it doesn’t have, but will have to find soon.

According to HPD, “By 2013, our current system, with wide band frequencies, will most likely be discontinued”.


The last time it bought any new radios was back in 1990 for the National Republican Convention.

The city has been collecting record tax revenue, is sitting on a surplus, and has created numerous new revenue streams/taxes. There is simply no excuse for this serious safety issue to have been left unaddressed. To top it off, check out Harris County's situation:

Ironically, while HPD finds itself in a tough spot. Harris County, in some cases, is leading the nation in law enforcement communication.

The county system is so impressive it was recently featured in 911 Magazine.

The sheriff’s department is already on a digital system and has the ability to talk with dozens of other agencies in our area, something HPD is sorely lacking.

The department has 20 mobile command stations so that in case of a disaster it can send these units out like it did during the Columbia tragedy.

Their equipment enabled NASA, the FBI, FEMA, the EPA, and the U.S. Navy dive team to talk with each other.

Each mobile unit has up to six source of redundant power with multiple generators on board. They are all equipped with satellite phones and wireless network systems and the ability to take over 911 if needed.

Harris County's system can take over 911 calls?? How embarrassing for MayorWhiteChiefHurtt.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 09/12/06 06:01 AM | Print |

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