Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Reliability of $2.1B statewide communication system in doubt 

Reliability of $2.1B statewide communication system in doubt

First published: Sunday, February 10, 2008
At $2.1 billion, the state's long-planned single wireless communication system that is supposed to allow firefighters, police and other first responders to speak with one another is the priciest such technology contract in the country.

Yet even at this late date, two months before the drop-dead date to prove this system is operational, there's substantial doubt that it works reliably.

And reliability, for the State Police, for firefighters going into a building, for police in the field, is crucial.

Interim fire and police tests of the system, devised over years by the contractor M/A-Com and the state Office of Technology, have been far short of successful. Trials last summer and fall in rural Chautauqua County went acceptably, but in more crowded Erie County, communication was at best haphazard. Buffalo Fire Commissioner Michael Lombardo, for example, said radios failed to work in about half the city. The public safety unions and the Buffalo police commissioner have expressed no confidence in the system.

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