Public Safety Centre features CSSI in a P25 Phase-II network

Zetron Australasia Pty Ltd

Thursday, 21 August, 2014

A New Jersey county’s Public Safety Centre features Zetron’s AcomEVO dispatch system connected through a CSSI to Motorola P25 Phase II infrastructure.

Monmouth County, New Jersey, is no stranger to disaster. The tragic events of 9/11 were witnessed and felt by many throughout the State of New Jersey, including Monmouth County. In August of 2011, Hurricane Irene caused major flooding throughout the area. And in 2012, Superstorm Sandy delivered a devastating surge to Monmouth County’s coastal communities.

The knowledge that such things can and do happen can either be paralysing or catalysing. Monmouth County’s approach to public safety is a clear demonstration of the latter, and the new Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Centre is a case in point. The 60-position centre is designed and equipped to ensure that the community has access to the public-safety and law-enforcement services that are so critical when disaster strikes, whatever form it might take.

Located in the central part of New Jersey, Monmouth County is the northern-most county along the Jersey Shore. With an area of about 1720 km2 and a population of approximately 630,000, it is the fifth most-populous county in the state.

The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office maintains two consolidated public safety answering points (PSAPs) to manage the county’s public-safety and law-enforcement communications. SouthComm in Neptune, NJ, is the smaller of the two and serves the shore area of the county. CentComm in Freehold, NJ, is the main centre; it serves most of the rest of the county.

“We’re a busy operation,” says Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. “Our Communications Division answers 9-1-1 calls for 45 of the county’s 53 municipalities and provides dispatch for 20 police departments, 56 fire companies, and 30 first-aid squads. About 550,000 calls come into the communications centre annually.”

People sitting at consoles with other people standing behind watching

Scene from the official opening of the Monmouth County Public Service Centre.

Time for a change

Golden explains why Monmouth County recently decided to construct and equip a new main communication centre. “CentComm was built nearly 30 years ago. Not only had the equipment become antiquated, but we had outgrown the space,” he says. “There was also not enough redundancy built into our communications systems. In fact, we originally built SouthComm as a stop-gap measure to add redundancy until we could update the equipment in the other centre.”

So when the time was right, Monmouth County decided to not only update their equipment, but to also construct a new facility from the ground up.

Planning the new centre was a seven-year process that included soliciting and prioritising input from agency administrators and other stakeholders connected to the new centre. A key undertaking involved finding new communications equipment that would provide the updated functionality, interoperability, redundancy, and ease of use required to meet these stakeholders’ - and Monmouth County’s - immediate and projected needs.

Bid specifications were written to ensure that the agency’s requirements were clearly defined. Then a request for proposals was issued for a solution that would integrate a Project 25 (P25) Phase II network with a state-of-the-art digital dispatch console.

Motorola responded with a bid based on a 60-position Zetron Advanced Communications (AcomEVO) system connected through the P25 Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) to Motorola’s ASTRO 25 Phase II infrastructure. This is the proposal Monmouth County chose for their new centre. It was a groundbreaking solution in a number of ways.

P25 Phase II and CSSI

The benefit of P25 Phase II is that it offers twice the spectrum efficiency provided by Phase I. And CSSI is an open-standards-based interface that enables customers to integrate console and network solutions from different vendors. The deployment for Monmouth County would be the first in the industry to offer CSSI in a P25 Phase-II solution. AcomEVO would also be the first third-party console to integrate with Motorola’s ASTRO 25 system. The CSSI is the technology that would make this integration possible.

When asked why they preferred a solution that combined the equipment of two different manufacturers, Golden’s answer underscores the value of open standards to customers: it’s about the freedom to pick and choose.

“We wanted the Motorola network and its Phase-II functionality as well as the Zetron Acom console,” he says. “We’ve used Zetron consoles for many years and were very satisfied with their reliability and performance. We like the functionality, customisability and room for growth the Acom system offers. It would also support our legacy VHF radio equipment as well as our new P25 network. This is important because many of our smaller agencies are still on VHF.”

Woman seated looking at computer screens

A smooth changeover

Although building a new centre is a huge project, once construction is complete, it can be easier to move into a new centre than to install equipment in a busy, functioning centre. This was certainly true in Monmouth County’s case.

“We remained in the old centre and kept it running until the new centre construction was finished and the equipment installation and testing were complete,” says Golden. “The transition to the new centre involved not just our new consoles, but all of our equipment, including our CAD and phone lines. Before making the final cutover, we had to ensure that all of the phone lines from the smaller municipalities we support were ringing into the new centre. This took several days, but it was a smooth transition. We also had plenty of great help from Zetron before, during and after we cut over.”

The new, 4200 m2, state-of-the art centre went live in April 2014. And its new equipment is already delivering a host of important benefits. Chief among them is the ease with which operators are able to learn and use it.

“AcomEVO’s customisable screens allowed us to create icons and other features that resemble those on our previous system,” Golden explains. “This made it easy to learn and reduced training time. Our familiarity with Zetron systems also made the transition easier for both our operators and technicians.”

The AcomEVO system also offers easy expansion: “The system will easily support the 30% growth we expect over the next 25 years,” says Golden. “In the near term, we already have several consoles to add to the system. For the foreseeable future, we’re set.”

More than 250 people attended the official ribbon-cutting ceremony held on 29 April 2014. The initial response to the centre was overwhelmingly positive, and the good reviews continue to roll in.

“Administrators from PSAPs all over the state and throughout the Eastern seaboard are very excited about it,” says Golden proudly. “They’re telling us it’s the best, most up-to-date PSAP in New Jersey.”

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