2018 launch planned for new dispatch system

Alex Doty • Dec 6, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Ottawa County Central Dispatch is making progress with its ongoing effort to roll out a new countywide emergency communications system.

“Grand Haven was our last tower to build,” Central Dispatch Executive Director Tim Smith said. “They’re doing the final wiring this week.”

The 150-foot tower was recently constructed atop the city’s Water Tank Hill near Mulligan’s Hollow — a site that was preferred by the Motorola engineers working on behalf of the county. The tower is situated between the existing amateur radio operator repeater tower and the water tank.

“Grand Haven, they are a great partner with us getting (this installed),” Smith said.

Plans to implement the $13.5 million upgrade to the county’s emergency dispatch system were approved two years ago when the Central Dispatch Authority Board voted to implement an 800-MHz radio system for its police, fire and emergency communications, joining the Michigan Public Safety Communication System.

The new communications system will allow public safety agencies to communicate with each other on the same platform, and it will allow for coordination of activities with agencies from neighboring counties in the future.

“We expect the new 800-MHz (system) should be operational in mid-2018,” Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said of the new standard. “Coverage in our community and beyond will be better than any other in the state of Michigan. ... We’re quite a bit ahead of most units of government in Michigan.”

The project is being financed with the 911 20-year property tax renewed by Ottawa County voters in 2008, which has a limit of 0.44 mill. The millage provides money for technology upgrades required for public safety communications across the county.

Smith noted that the new Grand Haven tower is one of many scattered across the county to provide a network of coverage for the 800-MHz radios.

“We’ve got 10 sites involved in all of this,” he said.

Other new tower locations include Chester and Jamestown townships.

Once the new system is completely installed, Smith said they will begin to test it. It will go live once everyone is comfortable with using the new system, he added.

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