Public and responder safety enhanced across the Capital Region.

CREST (Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications Inc.), the Capital Region’s dedicated emergency communications organization, successfully transitioned three of the region’s first responder communities to a new, best-in-class, radio network in January. This ‘next generation’ P25 system 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 features of the P25 system include increased coverage, improved audio clarity and security, noise-cancelling technology to reduce background sounds, and an expanded range of accessories including the ability to add new features in the future through software upgrades.

Victoria, Saanich, and Oak Bay police departments were the first agencies to transition to the new P25 digital radio system, part of a planned rollout that will see 50 emergency and public service agencies move to the new network in a phased approach that is scheduled through to the end of 2019.

“The safety and security of our officers and the citizens we serve are of the utmost importance to us,” said Victoria Police Chief Del Manak. “The police radio is arguably the most important tool in our tool belt; It connects us not only to each other and to our police dispatchers, but also to our policing partners including the fire department and BC ambulance paramedics. This transition to the “next generation” radio system is a step in the right direction for our officers and for public safety.”

“We have always recognized the advantages of what an interoperable CREST network provides,” noted Saanich Police Chief Bob Downie. “The new P25 network just takes it to the next level in strengthening public safety. Radio clarity is much improved and so is coverage which is key. As our region develops, the new digital technology allows for better penetration 2

of buildings, and in addition, the higher capacity of the P25 network accounts for growth in the CRD.”

The replacement of the existing regional radio network is the most significant technology project CREST and its emergency-service partners have undertaken since the current radio system was first implemented 2003. The new network can be fully encrypted, meaning communication among first responders will be kept extra secure and the privacy of the public who are being assisted by emergency services will be better protected during the necessary transmittal of personal and private information over the voice network.

“Our unique island geography requires us to be self-reliant in the case of a natural disaster,” explained Gord Horth, CREST General Manager. “The new P25 system provides first responders and public service providers with enhanced audio clarity and noise suppression, increased capacity, and improved coverage and security. The new P25 system also strengthens security and regional resiliency and allows different agencies to talk directly to one another in real-time. This important interoperability feature allows our emergency responders to back one another up across the region, and across south western BC as E-Comm (Emergency Communications BC) has also upgraded to a new P25 network.”

Like the old system, the new P25 radio system will be used by emergency response and public service agencies throughout the Capital Region including: police departments, fire departments, BC Emergency Health Services (BC Ambulance Service), BC Transit, University of Victoria security, Victoria International Airport security, municipal bylaw departments, BC Conservation Service officers, and others. Approximately 2,500 new radios will be deployed generating more than 15 million transmissions (up to 8-million calls) each year. The new radio system is expected to have an operational lifespan of at least 15 years.

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For more information please contact:

CREST: Kathi Springer 250.888.8767

Victoria Police Department: engagement@vicpd.ca

Saanich Police Department: media@saanichpolice.ca

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