The new P25 Standard

HRO (pronounced ‘hero’) is the name of CREST’s emergency radio communications system. The system is currently undergoing a $25 million upgrade in technology. As such, the system will now advance to a P25 Standard. P25 represents a suite of standards for digital radio communications used by federal, provincial/state and local emergency response agencies across North America. It is considered a world standard.

Key
Advantages

A primary feature of the HRO upgrade is the migration from a mixed mode analog/digital platform to an all digital platform. The most distinct advantages of this upgrade in technology are improved reliability, increased capacity, superior audio clarity, and better coverage.

Improved Audio Clarity

In an emergency response situation, lives depend on clear and accurate communications, both for system users and the public. With the migration of CREST’s HRO system from an analog to digital platform, audio clarity will be significantly improved. In layman’s terms, you could compare this to evolving from a walkie-talkie style audio experience to current day cell phone clarity.

Superior noise suppression

The HRO system upgrade means superior background noise suppression for users. Imagine the scene of an incident wherein fire, police and ambulance services are each responding. In these noisy environments, the need to call for additional back up, communicate between response agencies, or receive new dispatch information is very real. The superior noise suppression capabilities of the HRO system make everyone safer.

Increased coverage

The HRO system upgrade will further strengthen coverage over a wide geographic area, optimizing the current infrastructure and expanding it. CREST’s plan provides for an additional 18 transmit sites giving users a higher level of service in more areas of the region. Using simulcast technology, users will experience ease of roaming and a lower rate of dropped calls. Simulcast is also more spectrum efficient. This equates into higher system capacity and quicker access onto the HRO network.

Timeline for
implementation

CREST’s HRO system upgrade is underway via a phased multi-year implementation plan.

2016
Engineers design and factory test the replacement system prior to deployment.
2017
Infrastructure upgrades and added transmitters in a P25 700 MHz format in the urban core (Victoria, Oak Bay, Saanich, Esquimalt)
2018
Westshore, Saanich Peninsula, Gulf Islands, and Pacific Rim upgrades and added transmitters in a P25 format.

Safety For All

See how the HRO upgrade improves public safety.

Key Facts about the HRO system.

20,000

calls per day

7.5 million

average calls per year

50

used by 50 agencies including police, fire and ambulance services

2,500

users/radios in the field

1,500

square kilometers of system coverage

30

transmission/repeater towers

What Is CREST?
What Is CREST?
Crest implements and oversees emergency communications for over 50 emergency response agencies in British Columbia’s Capital Region through a wide-area radio system used by police, fire, ambulance and other safety service providers.
What is HRO
What is HRO
HRO (pronounced “Hero”) is the emergency radio system itself — the hardware and physical infrastructure that allows for emergency communications. This system is currently being upgraded to a P25 North American standard.
What is a P25 standard?
What is a P25 standard?
P25 represents a suite of standards for digital radio communications used by federal, provincial/state and local emergency response agencies across North America. It is considered a world standard.
What area does CREST cover exactly?
What area does CREST cover exactly?
CREST serves a geographic area from Sidney and Galiano Island in the north down to the southern tip of Vancouver Island. From east to west, CREST serves Saturna Island to the town of Shirley on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The total area covered is 938 sq. km.
How did CREST come to be?
How did CREST come to be?
For many decades, public safety organizations in the Capital Region used multiple radio systems for communicating. These systems were not designed or selected to communicate with one another, and in many cases, critical communications links were not available. To address the issue, CREST was formed in 2001, and its radio network became operational in 2003.
What is the current technology in use?
What is the current technology in use?
CREST currently uses a wide-area radio system called a mixed mode Motorola SmartZone 4.1. By using a mixed mode system, we are able to support both digital and analog communications. This allows mobile and portable radios as well as dispatch operators to communicate over large distances through repeaters. CREST’s infrastructure includes: 28 transmission and receiver sites, 51 in-vehicle repeaters, 2,345 mobile and portable radios, and 78 frequencies.
How will the HRO upgrade change the technology in use?
How will the HRO upgrade change the technology in use?
Via a phased approached, CREST is currently upgrading to an all-digital platform with a broadcast frequency of 700 MHz. In addition to upgraded radios and infrastructure technology, the HRO system will also add 18 additional transmit sites.
What is the life expectancy of the system?
What is the life expectancy of the system?
15 years.
Who are the people behind CREST?
Who are the people behind CREST?
CREST consists of:
20 Shareholders
20 Board Members
5 Staff Members
49 User Agencies
Over 2,000 Men and Women Providing Safety Services
How are directors for the board selected?
How are directors for the board selected?
Each shareholder appoints one board member to the board. Shareholders can choose any individual legally capable of serving on a corporate board as their representative.
How is the system paid for?
How is the system paid for?
CREST is funded through user fees paid by the agencies using the system. Their fees are based on the geographic size of the area they serve, its population, the number of radios required, and radio traffic. In addition, the Capital Regional District contracts with CREST to provide an emergency communications system for the Region.
How reliable is the CREST system?
How reliable is the CREST system?
The CREST system averages 8 million calls annually – one every four seconds. Of those calls, 99.5% have immediate system access. For those that don’t get immediate access, there is an average 1.1-second delay. No radio communication system in the world achieves immediate access or reliability 100% of the time.
Can the system handle an earthquake?
Can the system handle an earthquake?
The CREST system is designed to handle tsunamis and earthquakes. While there are never any guarantees based on the variable circumstances in natural disasters such as an earthquake, the CREST system is designed with multiple levels of back up to guard against natural disasters. These backups include self-sustaining sites complete with generators, battery banks and interfaces for external portable power sources, all of which have been tested and refined. In the extreme event that one or more of the system’s 28 communication sites goes down, the rest of the system remains operable. Many of our sites are housed in engineered disaster facilities to ensure a high threshold of reliability.
Who is responsible for CREST?
Who is responsible for CREST?
CREST has a 20-member Board of Directors that is responsible for overseeing the Corporation’s strategic direction, its finances, governance and operating results. The members of the Board are nominated by CREST’s shareholders, and provide extensive knowledge and experience to the Corporation through their work on the Board and as members of the Board’s finance and governance committees. CREST has a small staff team headed by a General Manager that is accountable to the Board of Directors for the day-to-day administration of the Corporation and operation of the system.