Tower Means Life or Death in Broward County

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Florida

As part of the city’s highly-anticipated upgrade to the 911 public safety system, County commissioners will vote this week on whether to approve the first of seven towers, according to WLRN-FM.

The 911 upgrade comes after communication issues arose during the shootings at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2017, and again at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Additionally, the county noted the current system reached its full potential back in 2002.

The Broward County Commission agreed in May 2017, to spend more than $60 million to upgrade its public safety radio system, reported WLRN. The new system will work on a different frequency, allowing more users to access the system simultaneously, eliminating interference and the “throttling” issue that occurred after the Parkland shooting. The new system will have about 30 percent more space for traffic, according to the county.  

“Every day that goes by that this radio system is not fixed is a day of vulnerability,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

Broward County’s 911 system works with three call centers around the county, called Public Safety Answering Points or PSAPS. When a person calls 911, the call goes to the next available operator in one of the three centers who then determines what’s needed, police, EMS or fire rescue.

That’s why the radio system is so critical: getting help sent to the right place in an emergency happens primarily with emergency radios. For the new radio system to work correctly, the county needs more towers.

“I want this to be done as quickly as possible, before, heaven forbid, we have another incident in Broward County where we cannot provide proper radio communication,” Commissioner Nan Rich said.

However, some residents of Hollywood don’t want a tower in their park, saying it’s an “eyesore.” They’ve asked the county to put the 911 antennas on top of a hotel and apartment building, which will cost between $2.1 and $2.8 million and delay the project until summer 2020. A tower, however, will cost $750,000 and can be up and running by the end of 2019.

Commissioners are expected to decide Tuesday if West Lake Park in Hollywood should be used for the 911 tower, reported WLRN.

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May 8, 2019

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