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Metro Newsroom

Mayor’s Budget to Enhance Emergency Communications

Friday May 25, 2007

$22 million for MetroSafe network is largest public-safety investment

Mayor Jerry Abramson’s upcoming budget plan will include the largest single investment in public safety ever for Louisville Metro Government – more than $22 million to build Phase III of the state-of-the-art MetroSafe communications network.

MetroSafe“Since merger, we have been consistently and methodically developing our MetroSafe system to provide police, fire and EMS the tools to streamline communications, enhance response times and save lives,” Abramson said. “My upcoming budget will include the funds to build the backbone of the new radio-transmission network.”

In addition to allowing police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders to more easily communicate with one another, the new radio system will greatly improve radio coverage across the community and expand the number of radio frequencies.

The city’s current radio system is limited to 28 one-way radio “conversations” at a time, while the new system would allow hundreds of conversations. With increased radio capacity, dispatchers will be able to set up dedicated channels for an emergency incident, if needed, so that responders could communicate without interference from other radio traffic.

MetroSafe Phase III will include 12 transmission sites for enhanced radio coverage, twice as many as the current system. It also will include the computers, networking and other technology to operate the system. The project also will include the completion of the secure emergency-communications center at 410 S. Fifth St., the site of the former Federal Reserve Bank.

The project is expected to be complete in 2009.

Motorola selected as vendor

After an extensive bid-review process, the city has selected Motorola as the vendor to develop, build and install the MetroSafe communications network.

Motorola was the unanimous first choice of the mayor’s evaluation team which included leaders from MetroSafe as well as the Emergency Management, Purchasing, Information Technology, and Public Works and Assets departments. The selection team was headed by an independent advisor, Roger Schipke, a longtime senior vice president of General Electric who formerly oversaw worldwide appliance operations.

“I found the team’s approach to be effective and fair to the bidders and citizens,” Schipke said. “The result will be a state-of-the-art system for our first responders that will significantly improve their ability to meet any emergency.”

MetroSafe builds on progress of first two phases

The mayor said building the MetroSafe system has been a top priority since the 2003 merger of city and county government, and has invested $15 million in the project’s first two phases.

The first phase of MetroSafe opened in September 2005 and created a combined dispatch and call-taking center at 768 Barret Ave. The center allows 911 call takers and dispatchers to work together as a team to coordinate a multi-agency emergency response. Previously there were four different communications centers.

The center also includes technology that establishes MetroSafe as a regional emergency communications hub, enabling Louisville police, fire and EMS to communicate with their counterparts in 20 different Kentucky and Indiana emergency agencies.

MetroSafe’s second phase, completed in June 2006, included a unified dispatching system. The computer-aided dispatch, or CAD, allows dispatchers to immediately know the location of available and responding police, fire or EMS units and instantly plots those on a map, so the closest available unit is dispatched to emergency. The CAD also speeds response times by eliminating call transfers that were previously required when citizens called 911.