Executive proposes plan to replace aging emergency radio network used by first responders
Cities and their public safety partners want King County to ask voters for funding to replace an aging emergency radio network with equipment that is more reliable and makes it easier for first responders to communicate during crises.
To ensure that first responders have reliable communication tools during a catastrophe, King County Executive Dow Constantine today proposed a plan to replace the region’s aging emergency radio network, which is nearly 20 years old, has parts that are wearing out, and suffers from a limited coverage area.
“This network will provide essential equipment that our first responders must have to communicate during life-threatening emergencies,” said Executive Constantine. “Our communities are safer when our emergency personnel have reliable tools.”
The proposed project, called Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network, or PSERN, would replace radios used by first responders to communicate during crises, upgrade equipment in King County’s 911 dispatch centers, increase reliability, and provide greater coverage for radio communications. Eleven cities and their public safety partners have requested that King County replace the existing network.
The proposal transmitted today requires approval by the Metropolitan King County Council. The proposal would ask voters to approve lifting the lid of an existing property-tax levy to generate the estimated $273 million needed to replace the radio network. The proposal would increase the levy by 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value over a nine-year period.
Following an extensive procurement process and several months of contract negotiations, Motorola Solutions was selected as the system vendor. Motorola, which is the vendor for the current system, previously announced that it will no longer be able to provide service or maintenance for the existing equipment after 2018.
Other benefits of system replacement include increased capacity to keep up with King County’s growing population, additional radio sites to provide improved coverage, and better security to prevent unauthorized reception of communications on the network.
The radio network is owned by four entities: the Eastside Public Safety Communications Agency, which includes the cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, and Mercer Island; Valley Communications, which includes Auburn, Kent, Federal Way, Renton, and Tukwila; and King County and the City of Seattle, and The network would be used by first responders in all 39 cities and unincorporated King County.
The King County Council will set dates for public hearings on the proposal.
Learn more about the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network at: www.psern.org