The public safety radio system of Bermuda was implemented more than 25 years ago. At that time it was a relatively new technology called trunking which promised improved performance and features for the users that were superior to the conventional radio system then in place. It was leased from the private sector, the same companies that now provide cellular service and radio systems for business users. Today that analog trunking technology is obsolete. So much so that Motorola, the company that provided the equipment, no longer supports the technology and no longer can provide replacement parts.
Today radio systems in general and public safety radio systems in particular have undergone a quantum change to the digital world. Radio systems today utilize the same technology as the computers used everywhere. Standards have be published directly addressing the technical and operational aspects of public safety radio communications. It is, to a great degree, the same technology used by the cell phone industry including bringing data directly to the public safety user through his radio.
The specifications included in the Request for Proposals for the Public Safety Radio System include these data capabilities as well as features such as built in GPS location, simple text messaging, and the ability to upload suspect data including photographs for police and building plans for fire fighters.
Also key to the RFP is improved radio coverage island-wide. The existing system operates from five fixed sites. Some agencies and their required coverage areas have grown over the years. Because of this the radio system operators have placed them on other systems which are primarily commercial and use different radios.
The new specifications call for the selected vendor to guarantee high degrees of reliability, in the order of 95% coverage over all of Bermuda. This could mean more sites across Bermuda. They also require interoperability between users which, in many cases, is not possible due to the various radio systems in use. The new radio system will integrate all of the Island's radio users on a common platform which will create inherent interoperability for everyone.
The primary objectives of the procurement are:
- Replace obsolete radio equipment;
- Provide a common technology platform between all users on Bermuda;
- Provide the capability of transmitting and receiving data that can be interfaced into existing and future planned data networks including field users; and
- Improve radio coverage Island wide and increase the level of performance of all public safety and government radio.