DuPage OKs deal with Motorola for emergency radios

A radio system that would allow police, fire and emergency personnel throughout DuPage County to communicate seamlessly is a step closer to becoming a reality.

Members of the DuPage County Emergency Telephone System Board this month unanimously approved a $28 million contract with Schaumburg-based Motorola Inc. to purchase equipment for the planned interoperable emergency radio network.

County board member Pat O'Shea, chairman of the emergency telephone system board, said in a statement that establishing an interoperable communications system “is perhaps the most important project that has ever been undertaken in the history of DuPage County public safety.”

“This system will undoubtedly save lives,” said O'Shea, adding the cost will be paid with money raised through 911 wireless surcharge fees.

Westmont Village Manager Ronald Searl, chairman of the Radio Steering Committee that researched the project, said the interoperable system will allow “seamless communication” among police and fire departments that doesn't exist now.

“Basically everybody has their own frequencies,” he said.

While DuPage has been “functioning” for years with that type of system, Searl said, “it just became obvious that there's a much better way to do it, and it could be improved vastly with the technology that we have.”

The new radio system would allow DuPage County to meet federal mandates requiring all counties to have interoperable communication networks in place by 2013.

Searl said the original plan was for DuPage to create its own, private system. But that idea was scrapped after it was found to be too cost-prohibitive, he said.

Under the contract with Motorola, the county will subscribe to the company's StarCom 21 system, which already is being used by several agencies around the state, including the Illinois State Police.

As an affiliate of the StarCom 21 system, officials said, DuPage County towns will have the ability to communicate throughout the system on a local, countywide and statewide basis.

Searl said steering committee members earlier this year expressed support for DuPage using the StarCom 21 system. “It basically met the various technical goals that both the police and fire agencies had set for an interoperable radio system,” he said.