Milwaukee Improves Radio Communications

IP-based network to provide interoperability for city and surrounding agencies.

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee, Wisc. needed a communications system that offered reliable and effective interoperable communications with other departments. Milwaukee will install a new communications system, that when coupled with interoperability software, will connect communications among all city and surrounding agencies including police, fire and public works.

The system will allow these agencies to interoperate with other local, state and federal agencies with operations in and around Milwaukee, further increasing their ability to respond to and manage emergencies.

The OpenSky system from M/A-COM is a wireless private network based on Internet Protocol (IP) that enables efficient voice and data communications between municipal and public-safety departments. All Milwaukee agencies will be connected through the IP network, enabling different agencies to easily communicate. The Milwaukee Fire Department, for example, will be able to directly communicate with the Milwaukee Police Department and other city departments for the first time, improving collaboration among public-safety and municipal agencies.

The technology behind the system -- end-to-end IP and a time-division multiple access airlink -- allows for multiple features including:

-Digital and analog radio interoperability with systems of any type, including those not part of the OpenSky network.
-Enhanced data capability for quick download of data and graphic files, including patient and criminal information and photos, to mobile devices.

-Efficient use of radio frequencies by allowing four simultaneous conversations on each radio frequency channel.
-GPS tracking capability for increased safety
-Remote software reconfiguration and easy upgrades.

The Milwaukee system is slated for completion in 2005.
Miriam Jones is chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines. She joined e.Republic in 2000 as an editor of Converge magazine.