Chester County Voice Radio Project

Project Background

The Chester County Department of Emergency Services (DES) operates an emergency voice radio system that supports over 5,000 law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) responders as they accomplish their mission of protecting the over 500,000 residents of Chester County.
The current system, installed in the early 1990s, is based on analog technology that is becoming obsolete and is inadequate to meet the requirements of emergency responders and citizen expectations.
On February 14, 2013, the Chester County Board of Commissioners signed a $42.1 million contract with Harris Corporation for design, installation, testing, operational implementation, two years of warranty, and eight additional years of maintenance for an Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Project 25 Phase 2 compliant digital voice radio system (Chester County Voice Radio Project). This system will support the Board of Commissioners’ “Public Safety” strategic goal, will satisfy the emergency responders’ requirements, and will meet the National Interoperability Communications Goal. Determined and aggressive negotiations also supported the “Smart Financial Management” strategic goal by achieving the dual benefits of additional system features and a contract price reduction of over $10 million from the initially submitted proposal.

County Design

The Harris system will be a two cell simulcast design consisting of 25 sites. The East-Central cell will consist of 11 sites with 12 talk-paths while the West cell will consist of 14 sites with 10 talk-paths. The design will satisfy projected growth requirements to beyond 2030, and pre-planned system hardware and software upgrades will extend system useful life thus maximizing the county return on investment.
The system will support two dispatch centers; the primary in DES at the Government Services Center and the alternate at the Public Safety Training Campus (PSTC).
The system lay-out will provide guaranteed portable coverage throughout 97% of Chester County as measured by two separate tests: one in nine designated urban areas and one in the remaining rural areas.

The system lay-out uses many of the current system sites. To obtain the required 97% coverage and system access from the alternate dispatch center four new towers will need to be constructed:
  • A lattice tower in Upper Uwchlan, Proposed Tower Site UUT
  • A monopole tower in West Bradford Township,
  • A monopole tower at the PSTC in South Coatesville, and
  • A lattice tower in South Coventry Township.
The system is expected to be operational during the first quarter of 2016 when it will enhance emergency responder and citizen safety through improved coverage and modern functionality.

County Wide CAD Data

About 380,000 times each year DES dispatches emergency responders to deal with citizen calls for help. This includes about 332,000 law enforcement responses, about 38,000 EMS responses, and about 10,000 fire responses. The successful resolution of these dispatches as well as citizen and emergency responder safety depends on a reliable voice radio system.
In order to achieve the emergency responder established requirement for 97% coverage 97% of the time throughout Chester County for the new Voice Radio Project, Chester County is expending a great deal of time and money to ensure that the system coverage is as robust as possible. Having identified that increased coverage is a key requirement of the new radio system, the need to add additional tower sites has become apparent. One of the new tower locations needed is in Upper Uwchlan Township (proposed tower site - aerial). This tower site will be key in providing coverage to the areas in and around Upper Uwchlan Township - (proposed preliminary site plan).

Upper Uwchlan Township CAD Data

In 2012 there were 2,236 emergency responses in Upper Uwchlan Township. These responses were handled by multiple agencies including the East Brandywine Fire Department, the Glenmoore Fire Department, the Lionville Fire Department, the Ludwigs Corner Fire Department, the Uwchlan Ambulance Corps; and the Upper Uwchlan Township Police Department. These responses break down as follows:
  • 2,181 law enforcement responses
  • 571 EMS responses
  • 484 fire responses

Upper Uwchlan Township Proposed Tower Site

Upper Uwchlan Township is in the process of updating the ordinance that regulates wireless communications facilities in the Township, traditionally known as cell towers. The existing ordinance was drafted and adopted in 1997 and is in need of an update in order to adequately address the significant changes in technology in the communications sector. With the assistance of the Township's Planning Commission, the Township drafted and adopted a Wireless Communications Facilities Ordinance which addressed the need for effective public safety communications within and outside of the Township in order to accommodate emergency response personnel, to include: emergency medical services, emergency management, fire, and law enforcement.