Updating P25 in Florida

June 25, 2020
Law enforcement professionals always want the best equipment and they are especially concerned about getting the latest dispatch tools to help first responders.

The new communications system will be a more efficient digital network built on the latest standards-based P25 technology for seamless public safety communications across agencies. The network will provide enhanced coverage across the county and with surrounding cities. It will be resilient, capable of standing up against extreme weather conditions and other potential disruptions. It also provides clearer audio where first responders can be heard in loud environments, even with sirens. 

Broward County, Florida, is in the process of installing an updated Project 25 (P25) system. County leaders selected Motorola Solutions for their new ASTRO 25 land-mobile (LMR) network that will be interoperable with other agencies throughout the state.

Motorola Solutions will manage this system for the next ten years and will ensure that first responders are using the latest software and applications for reliable, secure communications allowing them to focus on their top priority—the people they protect. Motorola Solutions is dedicated to supporting Broward County before and after this takes place. It has been standing by Florida customers for years and helped with hurricanes and large events.

“Broward County will have state of the art technology for seamless communications every day and for fast response during emergencies from a car crash to a storm impacting several counties,” says Robert Marshall, Motorola Solutions Vice President. “They will be joining the dozens of Florida counties and cities already using P25 mission-critical communications systems built by Motorola Solutions.”

This new P25 network is designed to complement the Motorola Solutions PremierOne computer aided dispatch (CAD) system, recently implemented at Broward County’s regional 911 Consolidated Dispatch Centers. This will mean that dispatchers will be able to determine the location of first responders using GPS functionality availability on their Motorola Solutions APX P25 radios. This means officers closest to the scene can be dispatched quickly and effectively and this means a reduction of response times.

The ASTRO 25 system is ready for the next generation of mission-critical technologies. The P25 infrastructure, combined with software and intelligent middleware, will connect and seamlessly interoperate with broadband and mobile applications designed for first responders for a real-time view of events, according to a statement from Motorola.

As the system was being installed, Jose DeZayas, the E911 communications administrator for the Project 25 system said he was pleased with the new technology and believes it will benefit law enforcement personnel for years in the future. The Broward County Commission approved $60 million to replace the older or legacy system.

“We are moving from an analog system to a digital platform. We are improving the spectrum efficiency and we are doubling the talk path capability, so more people can communicate over the system. We are improving the standard operating situation and we have a more detailed communication plan. The P25 is the best technology that Motorola has to offer,” says DeZayas.

Interoperability

This system is interoperable between manufactures offering a great advantage. It is no longer vendor-centric. A law enforcement agency can work with other subscriber types.

Broward County has grown substantially over the past 25 years and more upgrades have been added to the system. There are an additional six power sites to transmit and receive sites for more coverage. There are improvements to power systems and eight hours of battery backup. There is a backup of four tower sites in the event of failure of primary system. More towers are being added to the system.

To improve the P25 System a consultant was hired to do a needs assessment for the county. It was determined that about four more towers were needed and they are being added throughout the county.

Motorola Solutions and Florida-based L3Harris Technologies Public Safety and Professional Communications are offering competing P25 systems. They both competed for the contract in Broward and Motorola won the award. Harris and Motorola are both competing aggressively for contracts throughout the nation.

Miami-Dade County worked with the original Harris Corporation in 2010 to develop an improved P25 system, a $100M contract considered one of the largest in the nation. In 2017, the City of Miami selected L3Harris to modernize and improve its critical communications network with an $11 million contract. This P25 system covers more than 2.5 million people. This meant transitioning from a legacy analog radio system to a new digital network that provides increased reliability and improved function for more than 3,000 users. Miami has the largest population per square mile in Florida and has a large financial area. The new arrangement between L3Harris and Miami provides the City with a P25 Phase 1 and 2 digital network.

L3Harris is providing an end to end five-site simulcast system, including a Voice, Interoperability, Data and Access (VIDA) converged and integrated service platform; Symphony command center dispatch consoles; XL-200P full-spectrum, LTE-capable, FirstNet certified, multi-band P25 radios; and the BeOn mobile Push-to-Talk application for integration of narrowband and broadband solutions.

Shortly after the City of Miami contract was awarded to L3Harris, Nino DiCosmo, president, Public Safety and Professional Communications, L3Harris said, “This selection shows the City of Miami values Harris’ open-standards technology. We will provide the city seamless interoperability throughout our long-term partnerships as all public safety and public works agencies migrate onto the system.”

And L3Harris is continuing to expand in the Miami-Dade area. It has P25 systems in place in the cities of Coral Gables and Aventura. It is in the process of deploying P25 systems in the cities of Miami Beach and Hialeah. Miami Beach selected L3Harris to modernize its critical communications network, transitioning it from a legacy analog radio system to a new digital network that provides increased reliability to about 1,000 first responders. L3Harris provided Hialeah and Miami Beach a P25 Phase 1 and Phase 2 system to provide citywide coverage and modern services based on the VIDA platform. The dispatchers will use Symphony dispatch consoles. Hialeah and Miami Beach will have an enhanced level of interoperability with nearby cities.

This means cities will be interconnected with the existing large and successful system in Miami. “There is an advantage in that the cities decided to go with L3Harris. It will be an interconnected system that creates better coverage overall. This means that the various cities’ police and fire departments are able to easily go from one system to another. We are offering the latest in radio technology,” says Jose Vasquez, senior sales manager for L3Harris.

David Volz has been a writer about 30 years, with work appearing in the Sun Sentinel, Physician’s Financial News, Made to Measure, the Uniform Magazine, Occupational Therapy, Engraver’s Journal and other publications. He teaches Communications at Miami Dade College and Broward College and has an MA in Communications from Florida Atlantic University.
About the Author

David Volz

David Volz has been a writer about 30 years, with work appearing in the Sun Sentinel, Physician’s Financial News, Made to Measure, the Uniform Magazine, Occupational Therapy, Engraver’s Journal and other publications. He teaches Communications at Miami Dade College and Broward College and has an MA in Communications from Florida Atlantic University.

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