Tom's Tech Talk (#7): Ready for the Next Emergency?!
With the recent weather related incidents happening around the US and the world for that matter, now is a good time to assess your backup plan for communications. When developing a backup communications plan, you have to consider what type of an emergency you are planning for. It's usually:
1) Your radio system is impaired and you need an alternate method of
2) You have to evacuate your facility leaving the equipment intact and
3) You have an incident which has completely taken out your building,
equipment or tower and you have to relocate.
For the 30+ years I have been here at Chicago Communications I have seen all three scenarios based on commercial grade radio systems to Public Safety communications systems. As you can guess they usually range in price according to the list above.
SCENARIO ONE outlines if one of your radios failed and you need an alternate. In most cases Public Safety systems have the ability to have an alternate radio transmitter at a different site. This is usually the norm in this type of system. If they lose one transmitter they engage a switch on their console and activate the backup channel. In commercial grade systems this may call for renting a backup repeater or using an alternate radio that may be on site for another department. Either way you usually spend a lot to put in a completely redundant piece of equipment.
SCENARIO TWO lends itself to evacuating a facility. For Commercial users once you have left the building you really can’t do your job. For Public Safety users, the alternate is to dispatch from another location or have someone take over your dispatching duties. With communications dispatch centers, as the 911 calls are routed to the center, by flipping a switch, the telephone company can divert traffic to an alternate center. In addition to taking these calls, they can communicate over existing radio systems. Again, this is a standard practice in Public Safety.
SCENARIO THREE is tricky. Not only is it costly as you have to have a completely
isolated solution, but you have to do it in such a manner that you don’t spend a fortune replicating your systems. For most Public Safety agencies, this means developing a center in another location that will be able to handle incoming 911 or telephone calls and dispatch on some type of radio channel. If the phone company goes down and all of your towers go down as in Katrina, you can end up helpless.
There are ways to properly plan and implement your emergency communications. Contact us if you would like to discuss your options further. You can also read our Backup Center Checklist to evaluate options for your communication system.