Wednesday, August 10, 2005
the COMMISSIONERS - Series Part II of the Mega Hurtz
Did You Ever Hear The Old Saying:
You might not think that I heard what you thought I heard what I said when I did ?
Well, either did I however what I am about to write IS very important, and it sort of relates to the mumbo jumbo up-above.
For months I have been saying “TEST YOUR RADIOS” before you begin your shift to make sure the radios AND the system are working properly.
Tonight I smiled when I heard several police departments request a radio test at the beginning of their shift. Especially in District 4 where the tower went Out last night, you can NEVER be too careful.
This leads me to THIS.
IMMEDIATELY after Ligonier Township tested their radio LAST NIGHT on the new 800 Mhz System the system started to have problems !
My point is, YOU CAN’T TRUST THIS SYSTEM AT ALL, PERIOD !
By testing your radio, say at 22:49 for the 23:00 to 07:00 shift it may work just fine during the test, then three minutes later the system goes down.
I don’t want you to have a false sense of security.
The radio system has not PROVEN itself and in fact it is this Certified Electronic Technician’s opinion that it will be YEARS if ever before it will prove itself to be a reliable form of radio communications in this county.
Something that I just found out yesterday. The Philadelphia Pennsylvania Radio System is IDENTICAL to the one Westmoreland County has and it is having MASSIVE OVERWHELMING PROBLEMS ALSO !
Is Motorola just looking for a class action lawsuit ?
Yesterday I spoke to the Westmoreland County Commissioner’s Office ( no Commissioners yet ) and mentioned that I wanted to talk to someone about the new radio system. The person on the other end ask me “Concerning all the problems or our overspending ?”.
Excuse me, my head is spinning !
Westmoreland County's Department of Public Safety (Emergency Management) Will Not Even Admit the Radio System Is Having Lethal Radio Problems but the Westmoreland County Commissioner’s Office Will ?!
I sent the Westmoreland County Commissioner’s a Fax on Sunday and as of the close of business on Tuesday I have NOT received a reply. So to that end, I am posting it here.
Gotta remember friends, this is your good old Booger Blah-ger and I like to kid around as much as the next guy HOWEVER I NEVER KID AROUND WHEN IT COMES TO THE LIVES OF OUR POLICE, FIRE, EMS and COUNTY RESIDENTS.
= = bginning letter faxed to the commissioners on 8 August 2005 = =
Monday, 08 August 2005
Sam W. Jacobs CET
320 James Street
Latrobe, Pa. 15650
RE: WESTMORELAND COUNTY 800MHZ DIGITAL TRUNKED RADIO COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM
Honorable Commissioner(s) of Westmoreland County:
This correspondence is being submitted to you with the sole intent of calling direct attention to what I believe to be certain detrimental issues involving the new 800Mhz Digital Trunked Radio Communications System, currently being deployed and utilized by our County's Department of Emergency Management personnel. I have attempted to contact the upper management of the Department of Public Safety concerning these issues, but have received no replies to date, and so I am asking for your intervention and attention to this matter.
First and foremost, the weaknesses that are being observed in the new system (outlined below), in my opinion, present a clear and present danger to not only our first responders who rely on sound two-way radio communications to do their jobs safely, but also to the residents of Westmoreland County that depend on the emergency services that our responders provide them. Identifiable flaws in the proper operation of this new radio system raise serious questions regarding its dependability in crucial times of need.
I am a Certified Electronics Technician #P-291 and a First Class Federal Communications Commission License Holder #P1-3-16495 with extensive background in radio communications and engineering, as well as a licensed EXTRA CLASS ham radio operator K3SAM, and I have personally been monitoring the use of the system since it came online. During this time I have been documenting examples across the following categories of system impairment:
High cost of radio equipment decreases its availability to cash-strapped police departments and fire companies
Inadequate training for end users causes confusion and improper use of radios
Defective, damaged, or erroneously programmed radios not repaired, replaced or revised in a timely manner
Areas of poor coverage and localized dead spots in the RF footprint prevent reliable communications to/from those locations
Sporadic outages caused by lack of replacement equipment parts
Lengthy disruption and reduction of service due to outages of commercial T1 phone lines that have no backup
Understaffed 911 Center (call takers & dispatchers) causing delayed or non-responses back to units in the field
Reports of dispatcher confusion, lack of leadership and training, lengthy lunch and smoking breaks, sleeping on the job, equipment in need of repairs, software problems, and misuse of supervisor authorities
The points above are just some of the major issues that have come to light and can be verified through actual circumstances that I or others have observed. They can also be substantiated by those directly involved in them.
The intent here is not to cast a completely negative pall over this new system, but rather, to illustrate that if it is to remain the radio communications backbone of Westmoreland County going into the future, there are serious problems needing to be overcome. My frustration, and that of actual users of the system who have contacted me, is mainly due to the fact that those in charge of the system seem to choose inaction and indifference over problem solving toward higher reliability and better performance. The constituents of Westmoreland County paid for this expensive platform with hard earned tax dollars, and I feel we deserve to get our money's worth by having its caretakers making the system operate as advertised.
I am asking that you please initiate contact with the DPS management staff to discuss these and other related topics pertinent to the current operation of the TRS. I am able and willing to elaborate on any of the points outlined above, and can provide actual recorded audio from the system that will demonstrate several of them. Please feel free to get in touch with me at your earliest convenience using the contact information provided below.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Sam W. Jacobs CET
= = end letter faxed to the commissioners on 8 August 2005 = =
OK, so now you know how IMPORTANT THIS WHOLE THING IS.
I even put my real name and contact information on it.
As I said many months ago and many times over, K3SAM is an amateur radio extra class callsign and is of public record (www.qrz.com/k3sam is one place you can find it) and when asked who the Blah-ger is I always tell.
Some fairly well known people have given me the nick-name Booger Blah-er so I like to use that here on the BLAH-G.
Please read the above letter, HELL you might want to write to the commissioner’s office yourself !
It is YOUR COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM.
IT DOESN’T WORK.
THE Commissioners Were PUT IN OFFICE BY YOU (and I) to look out after us.
GMAN, YOU ARE NEXT
If you do not own an 800 Mhz scanner you can still listen to this areas Police, Fire and EMS Services provided by the Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety over the internet courtesy of GMan.
GMan set out to do this as a public service for those that would like to keep informed of what is happening in their neighborhoods.
This is a free service provided by his NKNOC LABS.
The idea of listening to this over the internet became so popular that his website was ALWAYS FULL, MAXIMUM listeners were somewhere between 18 and 24.
That was all the bandwidth he had to work with at his NKNOC Labs and people were logging in only to see that the entire system was full and they had to wait in line.
GMan was faced with one of two solutions to this problem. First he could start charging listeners so he could buy more room (bandwidth) for the signal, or he could find a bigger location to move his audio site to.
The kind hearted person that GMan is he found a new location that has plenty of room and he still does not have to charge for this service !
You will NEVER have to wait again to listen !
Let me personally thank you from all of the BLAH-G Readers ! This has made The Westmoreland County Fire, Police, and EMS 800 Mhz Radio listening available to ALL regardless of where you live.
There are new instructions for listening to this monitoring system. Everything you need is posted on GMan’s Website at http://www.gmans.net. Even Screen Shots that give you easy operating instructions.
The new system uses software called TEAMSPEAK, also available on GMan’s Website and it is very easy to use.
The Booger has installed this software and I DO use it, not for monitoring as I already have the scanners, but I enjoy the CHAT section of the Teamspeak Board. This allows me to chat with those that are logged on and listening.
When I log on I answer questions from those listening and more times than not I’ll be the one asking a cop or fireman a question.
Hehe, if you don’t learn something new everyday then the day has been wasted !
This morning when I began this issue of the BLAH-G, Derry Police was attempting to reach 911 for a license plate check (10-28). The transmission was horrible, the 911 delay times were very bad, and the overall quality of the whole thing just stunk !
If you want to hear most of what I heard just CLICK HERE. The original exchange of information took over 11 minutes, WOW ! I've cut this down to a minute and a half.
I think I’ve put enough down on digi-paper for this morning.. enough for each of you to enjoy as you sit at your computer at home before work, while you are at work, or just about anywhere anymore with the advent of the wireless zones.
GREENSBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT IS NOT YET OPERATING ON 800 MHZ, they have only been testing. I HOPE SOMEONE FROM THAT DEPARTMENT WILL READ THIS AND THINK TWICE ABOUT GIVING UP THE FINE SYSTEM THEY ALREADY HAVE.
AFTER ALL, IF YOU KNOW YOUR 911 HISTORY YOU WILL REMEMBER THAT THE FIRST 911 CENTER FOR THIS AREA WAS STARTED IN THE GREENSBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT’S RADIO ROOM !
There are several police, fire and ems departments that have not yet entered the Twilight Zone and in my humble and educated opinion it might be smart for them to stay where they are for awhile.
http://800.k3sam.com – Easy 800 Mhz Guide
http://www.k3sam.com – Easy Frequency Guide Plus Other Latrobe PA info
http://www.gmans.net – LIVE Streaming Audio Broadcasts from Your 800 Mhz System
http://messages.k3sam.com – Interactive Messaging Board for ALL to use.