Statewide RF-Based, P25 Voice & Data Communication System Replacement

Statewide RF-Based, P25 Voice & Data Communication System Replacement

State of Maine
United States

The State of Maine’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) provides for the state police services, including patrol of all Maine Highways, full law enforcement services, detectives, homicides, and other major crime services, in addition to building security and dispatch services.  While the state’s Office of Information Technology is serving as the project office, the DPS is the major user entity for a new, statewide, VHF P25 digital trunked/conventional radio system to serve the voice and data communications needs across various state agencies. The objectives of this project were essentially as follows:

  • Formulation of a cost-effective communications migration strategy based upon stringent system availability, survivability, and performance standards to service a secure, reliable public safety mission

  • Development of a statewide voice/data communication system consolidation plan that promoted the sharing of agency assets and resources, thereby substantially improving interagency communications and coordination opportunities and capabilities between DPS and the other law enforcement agencies; Conservation, Inland Fisheries/Wildlife, Emergency Management, Environmental Protection, Corrections, and other Departments

  • Recommend a frequency band considering the coordination issues with Canada and the potential of 700 MHz in Maine.

As is typical in many states today, Maine’s state agencies were operating on different radio systems – in this case a variety of fragmented conventional VHF networks, with each offering marginally acceptable coverage in populated areas near Maine’s coastline but much poorer coverage inland characterized by austere, unpopulated public land and an international border that was difficult to patrol. These difficulties further complicated the ability to achieve needed radio interoperability economically.

The first phase of this project required Introba to fully inventory and characterize the type, condition, usage, and performance of all of Maine’s various existing state radio systems and their supporting facilities. Then, based upon an in-depth series of focus group surveys with all user agencies, Introba was tasked to formulate a consolidated voice and data communication system needs assessment.

Next, once Introba gained “buy-in” from each user agency, this needs assessment during the project formed the basis of the second phase of Introba engagement: a conceptual system design, engineering cost estimate, and user migration strategy, focused on the narrow-banding of the State’s VHF frequencies into an interoperable, modern statewide conventional digital voice and data network accessible to all levels of public safety culminating in what is now titled the Maine State Communications Network, or “MSCommNet”.

Phase III of Introba engagement required us to prepare a request-for-proposal (RFP) package, complete with all special terms and conditions, price sheets, proposal format and evaluation process, etc. for the State to procure MSCommNet. The procurement requires a turnkey system integrator to design and deploy the new 46-site VHF P25 Digital Conventional radio subsystem onto a new, high reliability, 35-hop microwave, and data link backhaul, as well as making all needed facility and site improvements (e.g. new towers, shelters, etc.). Introba led the technical and cost evaluation of proposals in response to the RFP, helped the state select a vendor, led contract negotiations, and recommended award.

Phase IV, which commenced in August 2009, involved Introba providing quality assurance, contract compliance, and technical oversight, during the design, installation, and testing of MSCommNet infrastructure.

Phase V, which commenced in 2012, was the initial roll-out of subscriber equipment to meet the narrowband requirements and get new equipment into the hands of all users.  This was a 6-month process deploying equipment to over 1600 end user all while still managing the project to complete the infrastructure.

Phase VI included the final stages of project implementation; Test procedures of the infrastructure, establishing an Operational Test of all user equipment integrated with the new P25 digital trunked system, working with all departments to establish the correct radio “personalities” to operate in the new environment, develop and deliver appropriate training material. Once the Operational Test was completed, a 2nd mass reprogramming was completed to update all radios to operate in the new environment and in March 2015 the MSCommNet system went live.

Phase VII: Because of the implementation of the new MSCommNet system; additional resources were required to assist in the further System Optimization, Development of Policies and Protocols and help redefine the roles and responsibilities of the OIT Radio Services team to better support this new and unique statewide system.

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