Update: On Wednesday, the county commissioners unanimously approved allocating ARPA funding for 911 emergency communications system upgrades and other IT projects.
The Lancaster County commissioners are scheduled to vote Wednesday on appropriating $9.7 million from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to update communications technology.
The majority of the money, $9.3 million, would go toward replacing the technology on the 26 radio towers that serve the county’s 911 emergency communications system. The current equipment is nearing the end of its useful life, said Michael Weaver, director of County-Wide Communications.
The proposed replacement equipment has a projected useful life of 15 years, he said. It is a “Phase II” system, he said, allowing roughly double the number of simultaneous conversations to be handled in a given service area.
It will also eliminate some interference issues that currently limit coverage in certain areas, he said. The system can handle communications involving either Phase I or Phase II radios seamlessly, he said, so police, fire and ambulance agencies with older equipment will be able to continue using their gear until they are ready to upgrade.
Upgrades of emergency communications equipment is a core eligible purpose under ARPA guidelines. The two commissioners present at Tuesday’s work session, John Trescot and Josh Parsons, both said they support the allocation.
Tait North America, based in Houston, is the proposed vendor. The overhaul should be complete by May or June of next year, Weaver said.
The remaining $356,692 in ARPA funding would go toward three IT projects: A Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping project, which will involve taking high-resolution aerial photographs of the entire county; the replacement of data switches in the county’s data center; and license fees for the Zoom online meeting service.
All three projects meet ARPA guidelines, Director of Budget Services Patrick Mulligan said.