New system aims to increase coverage, cut costs for Greater Victoria first responders

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On the surface, it looks like a medium-sized suitcase. However, what’s inside the digital vehicular repeater system (DVRS) can save money and ultimately lives.

Fire officials from across Greater Victoria gathered in Central Saanich Wednesday morning to receive training on the DVRS, which roughly amounts to be being a portable WiFi booster that improves digital communication for firefighters while on scene.

Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST) is currently migrating to an all-digital platform and the Project 25 technology presented Wednesday promises to offer many improved system features that will strengthen public and emergency responder safety, not to mention help people in need of assistance.

Following a comprehensive testing and training period, Greater Victoria’s core area went ‘live’ for police agencies in January. Fire agencies in the core (minus the Victoria Fire Department) moved onto the new P25 network over the summer. Peninsula agencies have been testing the new system and are poised to follow.

Taso Barous, a communication technologist with CREST, said communication channels in analogue mode are subject to interference that can make it difficult to receive and transmit information. Digital-mode communication clears up the audio but requires expensive towers and new building techniques among other factors such as distance impair wireless communication.