Crest Moving Forward With New Radio System Partnerships
INTEROPERATIBILY WILL STRENGTHEN PUBLIC AND RESPONDER SAFETY
VICTORIA, BC, JANUARY 4, 2016
The board of directors of Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST) announced today that CREST has executed an agreement with Motorola Solutions Canada (Motorola) for the infrastructure equipment component of its planned replacement of the regional radio system. The “next generation” technology will replace the existing radio system that currently serves 50 emergency response agencies within the Capital Region.
The new radio system will be based on digital radio technology known as Project 25 (P25), which provides first responders with enhanced audio clarity and coverage among other operational and safety benefits. Public safety organizations across North America are widely embracing P25 in the 700 MHz band as the preferred technology standard to provide operational excellence in radio communications. Switching to the P25 platform, which is supported by all emergency services in the Capital Region, will result in immediate performance enhancements for first responders including clearer audio with less interference, noise suppression, increased capacity, and improved coverage and security.
In 2014, CREST shareholders approved a $24.5 million investment in a five-year plan that will see the installation of new transmitters/receivers, conversion of existing radio sites to P25 compatible, and the purchase of new radios for first responders. The infrastructure component accounts for roughly half of the project (approximately $13.1 million).
CREST commenced discussions with Motorola after reviewing qualifications from several potential vendors through a Request for Qualifications process. CREST also requested cost estimates from pre-qualified vendors using a Request for Information. CREST’s analysis concluded that partnering with Motorola would offer multiple long-term public safety benefits at a competitive price. Paramount to the advantages is a concurrent strategic partnership with Emergency Communications for British Columbia Inc., (E-Comm), which owns and operates the largest multijurisdictional tri-service emergency radio system in B.C., serving first responders in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.
In 2014, E-Comm selected Motorola following a comprehensive three-phase competitive procurement process for the supply of radio infrastructure equipment and related services.
E-Comm undertook a rigorous evaluation and assessment of proposals from several qualified suppliers, and included independent external oversight in their review. Motorola was deemed by E-Comm’s procurement evaluation team to deliver the best value for E-Comm from both technical and financial perspectives. A purchase option in the contract between E-Comm and Motorola was made available to CREST providing CREST with the opportunity to access to the same volume pricing benefits offered by Motorola to E-Comm. Leveraging E-Comm’s competitive volume pricing enabled CREST to secure capital savings of approximately $1.2-million to $2-million. In addition, E-Comm’s purchase option reflected a $1.15 Canadian dollar instead of the current $1.27 to the US dollar which resulted in further cost efficiencies. On going system support and maintenance agreement (still functioning to 2018), and network maintenance for the new system over the next 5 years also realized additional operational savings that will exceed $1.1-million.
E-Comm began planning for the transition of its radio system to P25 technology four years ago. Transition work is well underway, with initial pilot testing already complete. As E-Comm also contracts with Motorola, this new partnership with CREST will enable the two organizations’ radio systems to be interconnected in the future, providing for significant public safety benefits for both regions.
Beyond the increased buying power for CREST, the partnership will facilitate significant public safety benefits as both organizations will be on a common technology platform that will strengthen regional resiliency and interoperability in both organizations’ service areas. This means emergency responders for both regions will be using the same radios and will be able to support each other during a major event if required. As both systems will be interconnected, they will be able to act as each other’s back-up. Achieving technology interoperability is a priority for CREST’s user groups.
Gordie Logan, Chair of the CREST Board of Directors
“CREST’s alignment with E-Comm is based on a shared vision to be leaders in public safety communications providing effective emergency communications for the safety of our communities. Leveraging our buying power through our association with E-Comm allows for the highest value return and a common technology platform that will strengthen our regional public and responder safety operations.”
Bob Downie, Saanich Police Chief
“This is a very good step forward. Working cooperatively on a shared Motorola platform with E-Comm will create economies of scale and enable greater efficiencies in training and support. It will also strengthen regional resiliency and interoperability while enabling capabilities for improved emergency responses across the shared platform. It provides improved back up and resiliency for our operations. Should a significant event take place in the Capital Region, our professional colleagues from the Vancouver Police Department or any other police agency on the shared P25 radio platform could attend and respond equipped with compatible radios.”
Mike Burgess, Saanich Fire Chief and Chair, Greater Victoria Fire Chiefs Association
“Greater Victoria Fire Chiefs Association has been consulted on this initiative to have both CREST and E-Comm use a shared Motorola network. We fully endorse this positive move as it furthers regional resource sharing and supports interagency responses and back up. This is good for public safety and responder safety.”
Karen Whitson, Executive Director, Corporate Information Services, Information Management /
Information Technology Services (IMITS) BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS)
“As an organization that operates province-wide, BCEHS already works in close partnership with both CREST and E-Comm. Moving to this new shared platform will benefit BCEHS and all other public safety organizations, and will further strengthen the working relationships and interoperability between, and within, each organization. BCEHS fully supports the decision of the CREST board, as the agreement with Motorola will provide the best value for E-Comm, CREST and all of the agencies involved.”