A seven-city shared police and fire radio communication system went into operation Wednesday in the South Bay area.

El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance are members of the Interoperability Network of the South Bay.

The El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance fire departments were connected to the network in August and September. Police departments from all seven cities were added in October and November, according to Ernest A. Gallo, the network’s executive director.

The network is anchored by six radio sites sharing 12 licensed channels that can handle open or encrypted conversations. It will cover 50 square miles and serve a population of about 560,000 which generates almost 500,000 public agency service calls every year, Gallo said.

This system can transmit multiple signals simultaneously, “ensuring the broadest two-way radio coverage possible” Gallo said.

The radio network can also handle digital formatting.

The network is financed by a $6 million grant from the Urban Areas Security Initiative and Homeland Security Grant Program. Participating cities paid $9 million to replace hand-held and vehicle-mounted radios. They will also cover operation costs.

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