By teaming with surrounding counties, the city of Pensacola, Fla., has been able to improve interoperability with other first-responder agencies while upgrading its 911 center and radio system at a much lower cost than Pensacola could have done on its own, according to a city official.

Pensacola last week began live operations in its upgraded 911 center, which features MCC 7500 consoles from Motorola Solutions. In addition, Pensacola is scheduled to begin use of its new 800 MHz P25 network—replacing an aging two-site SmartNet system—at the beginning of 2016, according to Pensacola Police Chief David Alexander.

“We will be able to talk with neighboring jurisdictions without interruption, and this is something that’s very important to us, especially when dangerous subjects that we deal with have the potential to go from one jurisdiction to the other,” Alexander said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“And, if something should happen and our system is broken here [at the Pensacola dispatch center], we would be able to go to any one of those remote locations, log in and continue to dispatch our calls for services. To us and to our officers in the field, that raises their confidence level that they have the tools they need … to make the community safe.”

City of Pensacola Project Manager Brenda Kahalley also emphasized the impact that the shared system will have on first-responder operations.

 “Previously, mutual-aid events and radio traffic required calls to be patched,” Kahalley said in a prepared statement. “This new system simplifies the process down to an easy push of a button.”

In addition, the upgraded dispatch center includes Motorola Solutions’ WAVE technology, which enables personnel using smartphones to speak with users of the P25 network, according to Stan Unruh, Motorola’s area sales manager for the project.

“The key here is that there’s going to be true interoperability between the two counties and the city,” Unruh said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.