Equipment helps Aurora monitor radio system performance

 
 
Updated 10/20/2011 12:07 PM

Be it a trucking company radio, a device on top of a warehouse or any other source of digital radio interference, if it's getting in the way of Aurora's public safety communications, the city wants to know about it.

Equipment that arrived this week will increase the city's ability to track how its digital radio system is performing and monitor any interference with the frequencies police, firefighters and other city employees need to communicate, said Ted Beck, Aurora's chief technology officer.

 

Gear installed Tuesday at four sites in the city "monitors the system continuously for anything that's abnormal," Beck said.

Additional gear the city is waiting for will include portable devices to track the source of interference once it's discovered by one of the four stationary sites, he said.

Officials are mostly satisfied with the performance of the Harris OpenSky digital radio system, Beck said.

He said radio users have reported only a few complaints about radio communications in recent months -- a marked improvement from the large number of complaints users submitted the first few months after switching to the system last December.

In the future, Beck said Aurora may add more signal amplification sites to try to enhance communications in the few remaining trouble spots. City technology staff members also are testing a new version of software for the radios that may solve issues users are having.

Past issues radio users reported include losing signals inside buildings or outside, garbled communications, fluctuating volume levels and difficulty communicating in proximity to other radios, according to a list of reported radio issues kept by Aurora and Naperville, which also switched to the Harris OpenSky system last December.

If tests show the new software will help, the city will update the radios in phases, first reprogramming a stock of extra radios so users still can communicate while the device assigned to them is being upgraded, Beck said.

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