A new public safety broadband data network designed to enhance law enforcement communications and improve overall policing is being readied, authorities said.
The “Next Generation” system is expected to go live throughout Los Angeles County by September, according to Sheriff’s Cmdr. Scott Edson.
It’s being directed and managed under a joint powers authority known as the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communication System (LA-RICS) and is being built by Motorola. LA-RICS will provide public safety agencies throughout the county with improved radio and broadband communication capabilities.
LA-RICS is the first part of a new nationwide public safety broadband network, mandated by Congress, that will be operated by the “First Responder Network Authority,” known as First Net, Edson said.
Law enforcement has been using commercial carriers for its data communications. These carriers are also used by the public for its data needs, such as texts, Internet, streaming video, mapping, and emails. As a result, law enforcement officers have found themselves competing with the public for the same data connections during emergencies. At times, this has left officers unable to communicate properly with each other and their departments.
In cases of serious emergencies, such as earthquakes, these commercial data networks could be knocked off the air for days. But LA-RICS is being built to withstand catastrophes and continue operations during major emergencies, Edson said.
A next generation 911 system is also in the works; it will convert 911 systems to Internet protocol, enabling the public to transmit information to law enforcement in new ways. Residents will be able to send law enforcement and the 911 dispatch center such things as text messages containing photos and video, and even stream video of large public disturbances.
When LA-RICS goes on line in September, the sheriff’s department will also be testing smartphones to work on the new network. They are intended to replace the mobile digital computers installed in squad cars to enable deputies to obtain information such as license numbers and suspect data, as well as messages from their dispatch centers.
The new smartphones are substantially cheaper than the mobile digital computers. The phones will also support two-way Wi-fi for deputies, Edson said.
—Staff and wire reports