In a major step toward improving public safety radio communications serving the Valley, local government has united to ensure that public safety personnel continues to have strong radio communications at their fingertips.

For years, many of the Valley’s towns and cities have partnered to deliver vital public safety radio communications to police officers and firefighters throughout the region.

Law enforcement agencies and fire departments throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area frequently work together and across each other’s jurisdictions to deliver critical services to the community. Central to this work is the use of radio communications to talk to each other and 911 dispatch call centers.

The radio systems that support these operations require expensive infrastructure to provide broad geographic coverage and signal penetration into buildings that can often be heavily reinforced with steel and concrete.

Since public safety grade radio systems are expensive to build and maintain, local towns, cities and fire districts have organized two major radio consortiums in the Valley: the Topaz Regional Wireless Cooperative (TRWC) and the Regional Wireless Cooperative (RWC), each serving the southeast and central/west-side Valley agencies, respectively. Without these cooperatives, each local agency would have to own and operate independent radios systems — a prospect few can afford. Through the building of these radio system cooperatives, costs are shared and economies of scale are achieved.

For some time, interoperable communications have been established between the two major cooperatives and among other allied federal, tribal, state, county and local public safety agencies. They also have established some limited roaming agreements to support remote operations by members who must conduct operations in each others areas.

The two boards that govern these independent cooperatives recently took a significant step forward by adopting a joint resolution that establishes that the two systems will share capabilities, wherever required, to avoid costly overbuilding of infrastructure by either system — thus saving taxpayer dollars.

The boards also agreed to conduct joint strategic planning, funded by a state technical assistance grant, ensure the two systems remain compatible and identify other areas where the two systems can work together in support of public safety end users.

• Briefs compiled from staff and wire reports.

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