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Ontario Co. gets new 911 and radio system

Hopewell, N.Y. This week, a new 911 and emergency communications system went live in Ontario County.

The $18.5 million revamping of the radio system and remodeling of the countys 911 center is something thats been in the works for the past ten years, according to Sheriff Phil Povero.

Povero explained that this change was partly necessary because of new laws passed down by the Federal Communications Commission.

Public safety entities are now required to narrow their radio bandwidth and start using different frequencies.

As a result, the Ontario County Sheriffs Office has converted to a 700 MHz frequency. Other fire departments and emergency services within the county have or will follow suit.

Regardless of the FCC rules, Povero said this was a change that needed to happen. Their old radio system was more than 20 years old and was getting worn. Replacement parts were getting harder and harder to find.

We were dealing with the components of a radio system that was put in place more than 20 years ago, Povero explained. It's a system that was used 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for over 20 years. Any system, anything mechanical-- when it's used on a consistent basis, its is going to wear out.

Eventually, it was becoming a public safety issue.

When we tested the old system years ago, you could stand at Seneca Lake in Geneva with a portable radio and talk to an officer at the food court at Eastview Mall in Victor, Povero recalled. The ability to do that as the system got older began to decline. We were having officers with portable radios who were facing coverage issues and trouble broadcasting from certain locations.

Povero explained that with the new system, radio transmissions are clearer and police and fire crews are able to better communicate throughout the county whether they are at a fire emergency or directing traffic at CMAC.

The 911 Center has also been relocated two floors up from where they are now.

Povero also said that 911 dispatchers are now equipped with touch-screen computers, hands-free phones and other tools to get information out to emergency crews quicker.

It's becoming more of a computer driven profession in communications today where the dispatchers are going to utilize computer technology to process the information they get on the phone and accurately and quickly dispatch this information to the field.

This project was funded through tax payer dollar and several grants.

Despite these changes, residents who call 911 in Ontario County should not notice a difference while making their call.

 
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