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Owensboro, Ky., 911 Upgrade Enables More Use of Wi-Fi

A new upgrade to the city-county 911 dispatch center in Owensboro, Ky., will allow law enforcement agencies in the jurisdiction there to communicate via Wi-Fi on their portable radios when inside buildings.

(TNS) — A new upgrade to the city-county 911 dispatch center will allow law enforcement agencies to communicate on Wi-Fi when inside buildings.

While the new feature is part of a planned upgrade, there will be costs to agencies that choose to use it, as they pay to add the capability of using Wi-Fi to their portable radios.

Nave discussed the feature Tuesday morning with the city-county 911 board.

On Wednesday, Nave said organizations and businesses would opt into the system, giving deputies and firefighters a connection to the building's Wi-Fi system.

When a responder calls out from a building that is part of the system, the call would be routed through either the nearest radio tower or through the building's Wi-Fi, whichever provides the stronger connection.

"It determines if the Wi-Fi signal in a school is better, or if the tower, and will communicate with us flawlessly," Nave said.

The feature is part of a larger 911 technology upgrade scheduled for next year and already in the center's budget.

The county is scheduled to go fully online next week with its new $6.4 million digital radio system, which replaced the outdated VHF system. The digital system's requirements call for it to provide 85% connectivity when a responder is inside a building on a portable radio. But Nave said that guarantee is only for certain buildings, like the county detention center or the hospital.

"It was specific buildings." Nave said. "It wasn't every building in the county."

The upgrade would connect in any building with Wi-Fi that is part of the system in the county, Nave said.

"They have to partner with us to give us a secure connection to their Wi-Fi network," he said.

The feature would also have a cost to the sheriff's department and fire departments. Nave said portable police and fire radios would have to be connected to the system at a cost of $125 per radio annually.

Nave said the Daviess County Public Schools Police Department will be part of the system, so all county schools will be covered. Captain Brad Youngman, lead officer for DCPS Police, could not be reached Wednesday afternoon for comment.

"If they choose they want this, they will have to budget the subscription service" in future budgets, Nave said.

© 2022 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.