Daviess Fiscal Court has begun the proposal process for the installation of its new digital radio system.

On Wednesday, representatives from Motorola, Kenwood, Harris and EF Johnson communications companies met with the court to take part in the pre-proposal conference about what will be required of them to submit proposals to spearhead the county’s estimated $5.8 million P25 Trunked Radio System, said Jordan Johnson, the court’s purchasing agent.

“During the preproposal process, we went over all of the requirements,” he said. “We also took those in attendance on a walkthrough of proposed tower sites as well as our dispatch centers. We have given them a desired percentage of coverage we would like and have given them the specifics on the system that would serve our needs the best.”

The court provides emergency communications services for its respective service agencies. Currently, the county operates a variety of conventional radio systems in the VHF band. The existing two-way radio infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life.

The new 700/800 MHz P25 trunking platform digital system will allow agencies to communicate more clearly and provide a greater opportunity for communication among multiple agencies within the geographic boundaries of Daviess County, Johnson said.

“The digital frequency is better than the VHF frequency,” he said. “A major benefit is that it mitigates the congestion that would be on a VHF frequency due to various industries, as well as the topography of the county. The new system will penetrate buildings and dense forest better and given that it is a trunked system, it will intelligently allocate the frequency, meaning that we can have a large number of talk groups as opposed to being in four channels. Each department will have its own channel and they would all be able to coordinate together.”

Final proposals from the interested companies are due to the court on June 29 and the final decision being made sometime in August. This will not be an easy process given that the 102-page request for proposals guidelines, which can be found on the court’s website, lays out a very specific and arduous blueprint of the county’s specific needs coupled with the requirements for ultimately winning the bid.

“We are estimating that the completion of the project will be within two years,” Johnson said. “It will take that long depending on multiple factors.... Depending on their propagation studies, we may have to go through leasing requirements, building equipment shelters, building towers or moving equipment. There is a great deal of logistics to be considered.”

Ultimately, the companies that are now in the throes of the proposal process will have to present a plan that is “feasible” and in line with the county’s needs, Johnson said.

“Some have said they can complete the project in a year, but we are estimating two,” he said. “The sites that we showed them are owned by the county, the state or a utility company, which means a lease for space on a tower would be a far simpler process. They have a responsibility to ensure that their proposal is feasible for us, so they can’t randomly choose a space on private land. They will have to really get to know the area and present a plan that will work for their design and meet our goals.”

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com.

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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