21 May 2006

Back Again For The First Time... huh?

Wow... just can't seem to get back in here to post on a regular basis these days. Every time I get the notion, something else seems to come up to take priority. Well, I've made it this time so here we go...

As always, I like to focus this Blog primarily on the Westmoreland County 800Mhz Digital TRS, which by the way, will be turning 2 years old this coming fall! (01 Nov to be exact). Seems like only yesterday... hmmm. Here are a few things I would like to touch on this time around, in no certain order....

  • Pro96Com tells me that at this very moment, there are 184 TalkGroups, and 3,723 radios in use on the county's APCO-25 airwaves. Be sure to have a look at the portion of our web page which is dedicated to the Pro96Com software program. Pro96Com takes the digital data stream output from an APCO-25 capable scanner, and presents realtime information about the Frequencies, Towers, Talkgroups, Radios, and much more, right on your PC screen as the system is in operation. Download our Pro96Com & Win96 files FREE by using the links on our Scanner Page.
  • Based on new radio ID's seen in the past few weeks, I'm thinking that at least one new Dispatch Console was brought online recently inside the EOC, to accomodate the addition of several new dispatchers there?
  • A new group of approximately 20 or so radios have been identified on the TRS, as recently as this morning, programmed for & affiliated with a new talkgroup, #394. Unsure what the use for these is/will be at this time. (If you know.. drop us a line!)
  • District 3 PD (Greensburg area PD's) even though not "officially" switched full time to the TRS, continue to make daily use of their 800 radios on TAC 4 as another means of communicating. This is encouraging, although why they don't switch over full time is really unknown.
  • District 2 PD (Murrysville) has started becoming less shy about keying up on 800 it seems, which is good. They have the radios, so they should use them to get a feel for how the 800 system performs for them. They have been observed talking to Delmont PD units on District 5 TACs recently. I believe it is only a matter of time (when their dispatching contract expires again..?) before Murrysville PD will join the rest of the districts on the 800 TRS permanently. This also holds true I think for the handful of fire departments that also "opted out" of the TRS. It is a "COUNTY WIDE" system, and it will serve the residents of the county best as an Emergency Communications platform when all first responders can use it to help coordinate their (much appreciated!) services. This will understandably be seen more and more as the system continues to be tweaked and tuned to chase out the last of the bugs, and as the density of the coverage footprint is made to reach all areas of Westmoreland's 1,000 square miles of ground.
  • Deadspots and individual radio problems not withstanding, we have noticed only sporadic outages involving larger portions of the system. Troubles with landline connectivity(?), or glitches in software installations/upgrades or service work occurring(?).
  • Fire Siren activations via the new 800 system seem to be on the increase. Activation electronics continue to be installed at the subscriber base station radios for selected companies around the county. We still hear about some failures of sirens to activate being reported over the air, but not sure if this is due to the 800 TRS or not.
  • The 800 system was used recently on Primary Election day (Tuesday, 16 May), for what seemed to be the purpose of supporting the use of the new electronic voting machines for the first time within the county. My theory is that approximately another 20 or so portable handhelds were deployed to members of the county's Technology Dept. personnel (IT-MIS folks, and maybe some election personnel too...), who's job it was to communicate any problems or questions with the machines/voting back to a Base-HQ for support. The reason this is just a theory is because all comms for this were on TalkGroup Public Service #5, and were (mostly..) all encrypted, so the few transmissions heard "in the clear" gave only a hint. Not exactly sure who was manning the radios that day, but they must have done a pretty good job as reports were that there were very few problems and voters seemed pleased with the new "iVotronic" machines. This scenario however seems to lean away from the primary "emergency use only" intent of a platform that has limited frequencies right now, and not sure if it caused any 'busys' or not. The encrypted comms were quite lengthy and numerous throughout the day on Tuesday.

Well, that's about all I have time for this trip. I'll try to get back over here for another post soon. Until then... Scan On!

"Scanners hear it 1st!"