Clear and safe
Clear and safe: first responders in the Lower Mainland using new radio technology
Police officers, firefighters and paramedics in the Lower Mainland are now communicating on a new radio system that enhances clarity of communications and safety for first responders.
The Next Generation Radio Program (NGRP), the planned replacement of the E-Comm Wide Area Radio Network, was completed in March—more than five years after planning for this major public safety infrastructure project began. The NGRP is the largest and most complex technology project E-Comm has undertaken since it implemented the first radio system almost 19 years ago.
“Providing high-performing equipment and an advanced and robust radio system is paramount for the safety of first responders who save lives, fight crime and protect property every day,” said Oliver Grüter-Andrew, E-Comm President and CEO. “The success of this on-time and under-budget project is the result of a huge collaboration between all E-Comm departments and our police, fire and ambulance partners from Lions Bay to Abbotsford.”
Agencies began moving to the new radio network in April 2017. Since then, more than 30 police, fire and ambulance agencies have made the switch to the new best-in-class radio system, which uses Project 25 (P25) technology. Public safety agencies across North America have widely adopted P25. The final agency transition, Delta Fire & Emergency Services, happened on March 6, 2018.
“Providing high-performing equipment and an advanced and robust radio system is paramount for the safety of first responders who save lives, fight crime and protect property every day.”
E-Comm President & CEO
“The new system is more advanced, more rugged and more resilient—enhancing the safety of first responders and the citizens they protect,” said Mike Webb, E-Comm Vice-President of Technology Services. “It has been a tremendous project to be involved with and I would like to thank everyone for their support to make it happen.”
Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) made the move to the new equipment and radio network on February 27. “We’ve been involved since the beginning in picking the technical requirements for the new system,” said VFRS Deputy Chief Tyler Moore. He added the new equipment and system is all about improving safety for firefighters. “With these new radios, we’re able to eliminate background noise so we have good, clear audio, even in a noisy environment.” First responders have chosen to encrypt radio channels. This means communication among first responders is secure and public privacy is protected when personal information is transmitted over the radio network during an emergency response.
Over the last year, E-Comm deployed or upgraded approximately 8,000 radios. In 2015, E-Comm and its partners selected Motorola Solutions Canada to supply radio infrastructure equipment and related services following an extensive competitive procurement process.
The replacement project started five years ago and required the completion of major activities such as the overall design of the network, procurement of an infrastructure vendor, building a test system and new radio sites, launching the network and managing agency transitions.
The E-Comm Wide-Area Radio Network is the largest multi-jurisdictional, tri-service emergency radio system in the province and is used by police, fire and ambulance personnel within Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley. First responders using the network generate nearly 11 million transmissions each month.