Satisfying the top brass
Waterbury, CT, could have been expected to want to emphasize “polish” in executing a communications systems overhaul. A metalwork-manufacturing center for generations, Waterbury is often referred to as the “Brass Capitol of the World.” The people with the brass badges who serve and protect the population, the Waterbury Police Department, have been implementing far-reaching goals for improvements to their communications capabilities.
Over the past two years, Waterbury’s range of projects included a new communications center, a citywide 800MHz system, a new CAD/RM computer system, a frame-relay connection to the state of Connecticut COLLECT/NCIC and a new E9-1-1 telephone system.
While the old dispatch center was being completely gutted and renovated, the E. F. Johnson Company subsidiary of Lincoln, NE-based Transcrypt International readied new Orbacom radio consoles to manage the new citywide 800MHz system. On June 6, the city formally accepted the system supplied by Johnson. The two-site, 800MHz Multi-Net II simulcast trunked radio system supports 1,000 units, including mobiles, portables and mobile data terminals. The police and fire departments have been integrated into the citywide 800MHz system, which also serves the street, water, education, sewer and waste, central maintenance, engineering, and parks and recreation departments.
The city received aid on its CAD project through the COPS MORE 98 federal grant program. The new COLLECT/NCIC computer frame-relay system was interfaced with the state of Connecticut’s computers, providing Waterbury’s officers with improved information retrieval. An additional project is to upgrade the police department’s vehicle mobile data computers.
Lt. Gary Stango, commander of communications, records, property and IS divisions for the Waterbury Police Department, said that he was impressed with the work performed by Johnson on the radio system since the contract was let in March 1999.
“There are bugs in any system, and when you begin construction, it can be necessary to vary from the paper plan,” Stango said. “Johnson was attentive to our needs. They worked hard; they were here; and they made whatever modifications were necessary to complete the new system and make the transition from our previous system.”
Using NPSPAC frequencies that were identified in 1994 and licensed after a lengthy process ending in 1998, the system uses trunking for voice communications and a dedicated frequency for mobile data. Johnson installed the mobile-data system, which was supplied by Atlanta-based Dataradio.
“I put public utilities on the system first,” Stango said, detailing the rollout. “We started with street, water, refuse and all other non-emergency departments to help test the system. That’s where we worked the bugs out. Next to be cutover was the fire department. The police department has been on the system since July 2000.”
Radio Communications Associates of East Granby, CT, provided consulting services for the project and wrote the bid. RCA’s owner, Robert Fairbairn, praised Johnson’s involvement.
“During construction, many things came up that weren’t Johnson’s problem, but they had to resolve them for us. In those cases, they were very helpful. In my 36 years in the business, I’ve never dealt with a vendor that was so good. Their project managers were their strength. There was nothing done that was an effort to glaze over the fact that something didn’t work,” Fairbairn said.
“I’ve dealt with all of the other manufacturers, and I really have to commend Johnson. Waterbury was a big project involving much more than just the radio system, and the logistics of putting the center together created some of the problems that they helped to resolve,” Fairburn said.
Michael E. Jalbert, Transcrypt’s chairman, commented: “We are pleased to be a part of the team that has brought state-of-the-art communications equipment to the city of Waterbury. As a result of the collaboration between E. F. Johnson and the customer, we are able to provide and support a system that will offer a high level of protection to the residents of Waterbury.”
Dave Hattey, Johnson’s general manager, said, “The completion and acceptance of the system in Waterbury confirms the project team’s tremendous job of serving this customer and displays our focused attention on resolving legacy challenges. Our centralized efforts in optimizing system design and performance, while firmly supporting our customer base, are reinforced once again.”
Johnson gained ground elsewhere in May with a $900,000 order for radio and control units placed by Nexterna, Omaha, NE, a company that serves railways, motor transport companies and utilities with computerized systems that sometimes use two-way radio links. During the same month, Johnson landed a $2 million contract to supply a communications system to the state of Santa Catarina Police Department in Brazil. Another $2 million contract announced on April 30 covers a system integration project for Chester County, PA.
Bishop is editorial director. His email address is [email protected].