Most notably, the system includes the 21 site Motorola Type-II SmartZone 800 MHz simulcast trunked radio system. It provides the primary means of communication, via two-way radio, between all county and local police, fire and emergency medical personnel and the 40 radio dispatch consoles at the county’s PSAP, Snohomish County 911. The radio consoles are just one piece of the mosaic of computer monitors dispatchers use, in addition to their computer aided dispatch (CAD) system.
Since it is a trunked radio system, unifying all of the above mentioned first responders and PSAPs, they can communicate with each other using a single radio. For example, a firefighter in Index can easily speak to a deputy in Stanwood if both users select the same talkgroup on their radios. In addition to the mission specific talkgroups, like a police or fire dispatch group, there are mutual aid groups available to all users for this specific purpose.
VHF radio resources in the 150 MHz range have also been deployed to extend coverage as far as possible into mountainous terrain, but requires the field user to have a separate VHF radio (or multi-band radio) in order to utilize it. The VHF resources can also be linked, or ‘patched’, on-demand to the 800 MHz trunked system by either PSAP.
Additionally, SERS maintains a VHF simulcast POCSAG paging system used to provide alphanumeric paging/alerting for fire department stations and staff, as well as other emergency personnel.
Connecting all these systems together are two independent microwave back-haul systems, each configured in joining loops to provide redundant connectivity in the event of a failure.
There are over 6,000 mobile (vehicle mounted) and portable (handheld) radios in use by police, fire and emergency medical personnel from Snohomish and neighboring counties operating on our system on a routine basis. The SERS system can accept any of the 20,000+ users from other regional trunked 800 MHz radios systems, as long as their radio management organizations have programmed their radios to access our system and have provided SERS with their unique radio identification information.
Through extensive regional planning and cooperative agreements between radio system managers, PSAPs can also create on-demand links between neighboring county systems at the infrastructure level, enabling a user in Snohomish County to talk to a user in King or Pierce Counties, as an example. There is also support for links to state and federal systems.
Since construction of the SERS system began in 2001, it has been upgraded to support APCO Project25, or ‘P25’, Phase-1 and analog simultaneously, which is known as ‘mixed-mode operation’. This upgrade process not only keeps the system sustainable by assuring availability of high level OEM support and replacement parts, but also makes additional features available to our users. Such as, digital voice for extremely clear audio and voice encryption, used by law enforcement special operations teams.
The current system has had two significant voice processing server ‘core’ elements upgraded overtime, but equipment at the remote transmitter sites (such as 120+ radio repeaters) are nearly 20 years old.
Subscribing agencies do not pay for service on a per radio basis. Instead, each agency’s fee is based on an assessment that takes into account several factors.
We need to upgrade the system
SERS has provided quality service to the community and first responders of Snohomish County for nearly 20 years. In that time, the system has become outdated and is nearing the end of it’s reliable life cycle. By 2020, replacement parts for the system will no longer be manufactured.
We have to act quickly to ensure that the radio system continues to support our first responders and provide emergency response services to our community. Your safety and the safety of our first responders is SERS highest priority.