DeLand, FL - With unanimous approval by the Volusia County Council (VCC), a $24.6 million upgrade to the county's public safety radio system is a go. According to a press release from the county, "the existing 800 MHz system, which supports more than 9,000 radios, is nearly 30 years old and the technology has reached the end of its life cycle."
The county has been planning for years for the new system and the related costs. On Tuesday, while approving the project, council members said the expense is an absolute necessity.
The contract was awarded to Communications International, Inc. of Vero Beach, the same company that implemented the original radio system.
“It is critical that the county’s public safety land mobile radio be upgraded to a modern P25 system now to ensure the continued reliability of public safety communication,” the county stated in a 2019 document seeking bidders for the new system.
The new P25 system is the industry norm because of its enhanced reliability and the ability for radios on different radio systems to communicate with each other regardless of the manufacturer.
"The bulk of the money, about $23.5 million, is for the system backbone such as tower site equipment and dispatch consoles as well as approximately 3,300 new radios as well as upgrades to existing radios. The contract also includes maintenance for 17 years after the system is completed."
“We all know we must maintain and update our communications infrastructure. It’s so important,” said Councilwoman Heather Post.
“This is not a want. This is an absolute necessity,” added Councilman Ben Johnson. “This is something that’s so important to our public safety that we just cannot overlook it.”
Sheriff Mike Chitwood, whose deputies are one of the biggest users of the radio system, expressed gratitude for the improved system that’s coming and said the public will be safer because of it.
“This is a crucial technology upgrade that will ensure our first responders have a state-of-the-art lifeline to get help where it's needed,” Sheriff Chitwood said. “Our men and women in uniform are better equipped and our residents and visitors are safer thanks to this move, and I'm grateful to the County Council, administration, and every member of staff for their foresight on this project."
The entire project is expected to take approximately 2½ years to complete.