Williamson County, TN Takes Citizen Safety to the Next Level


Williamson County, Tennessee, just south of Nashville, is home to a peaceful, bucolic countryside. With rolling, lush wooded hills, it claims as residents music stars, old and new — Kelly Clarkson, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and the Queen of Country herself, Dolly Parton.

Bill Jorgensen, Williamson County Director of Public Safety, knows that peace can be shattered by a weather event or other public safety disaster at any time. His job directing emergency management, public safety and emergency communications relies on proper preparation.

“Williamson County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. Bill’s proactive approach to have the highest standard of both connectivity and safety is also key to the economic growth and trust among the citizens living there,” said Pat Troxell-Tant, CEO, Vogue Towers, based in Chattanooga, TN.

Vogue Towers has been successful in launching a tower build program for Williamson County as well as Williamson County Schools, and it is currently building on both county and school properties. “We have a very strong relationship with Williamson County, and we are building several sites in Brentwood and Franklin – which have historically been very difficult areas to build.” Troxell-Tant continued by stating, “County Mayor Rogers Anderson and Bill are committed to making Williamson County the most connected county in our great state.”

Keeping PACE with Emergencies

Jorgensen and his team use a methodology to design their communications plan, based on the acronym PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency). The method requires the public safety agency to determine the different teams that need to communicate in the case of an emergency and then to decide the best forms of communication between each of them.

To coordinate the emergency response, the county has a dozen or so fixed towers. They constitute the primary communications infrastructure for Williamson County and most of them are used for their Motorola P25 trunking system as the foundation for daily emergency communications.

But what happens if those towers or systems start to fail? “I live in a world where we focus on continuity of operations, continuity of government, and emergency management,” Jorgensen said.

For alternative communications, Williamson County has a 100-foot crank up portable tower and a 43-foot inflatable tower with a small antenna that can restore communications in areas with gaps.

The 100-foot portable tower has logged an impressive amount of mileage and hours in service, responding to and assisting with local disasters, floods, wildfires and tornadoes. Between 2016 and 2021, it assisted in numerous areas impacted by hurricanes, providing alternate communications to rescuers anywhere from South Carolina to Florida to Louisiana.  This tower was used in the 2017 Houston flood and the 2016 Chimney Tops fires near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Gatlinburg.  The trailer tower is also deployed at special events, like the Tennessee Renaissance Festival and the Williamson County Fair, because it allows personnel to train on and exercise equipment before a disaster happens.

Onward and Upward

In 2019, Jorgensen and the team took the lessons that they learned from providing alternate communications in disaster areas back to the “white board,” to pinpoint the capabilities they needed going forward. They also wanted to explore expanding emergency support to other areas of the country. They decided to design and build a portable tower with more capacity.

“On the older, 100-foot tower, we had individual 700 MHz and 800 MHz repeaters, which would allow only two simultaneous conversations,” Jorgensen said.

Enter, the MITT 2.0 Deployable Radio Site

The fruit of their labors is the Mobile Interoperable Tower Trailer (MITT) 2.0 Deployable Radio Site, designed and manufactured by Pepro, LLC in Oil City, Pennsylvania. It features a 26-foot trailer, 60-foot tower with a 15-foot needle for a total of 75 feet, an Onan 12.5 kw diesel generator with 90-gallon fuel tank, and four bay shielded cabinets with a Faraday cage enclosure that protects against lightning, RFI, EMI and PIM.

“Probably the biggest piece of this new portable tower that differentiates it from other tower trailers is that it has a six-channel Motorola P25 trunking system that we can operate on our local system, or we can switch over and operate on the nationwide interoperable trunking frequencies,” Jorgensen said. “With a six-channel trunking system, we can have up to five simultaneous conversations. With 300 or so talk groups, we are going from two places to communicate up to 300. That’s a huge increase.”

In addition to trunking capability, the MITT 2.0 packs several repeaters using UHF, VHF, 700 MHz and 800 MHz.

The MITT 2.0 can also provide phone system capabilities. For example, if the mayor’s office lost phone service, the trailer could be pulled up to the mayor’s office and fiber could be run inside to their existing switches to quickly get it back up and functional. For radio system backhaul and internet access, it uses an IPaccess Satellite solution, Redphone VoIP encryption, eight SIPs phone lines, two Sierra MG90 routers, and four SIMs for terrestrial — Verizon and FirstNet.

“Through satellite, FirstNet and Verizon, we can access the internet to establish virtual private networks to other places that we need to securely connect,” Jorgensen said.


The Williamson County Office of Public Safety serves a population of 255,000, which is expected to effectively double in the next 18 or so years, making it one of the fastest growing communities in the Southeast. Jorgensen and his team have already been back to their “white board,” creating a plan for a more robust network in the future. “I think the ultimate vision is that we have the ability to reestablish the communications of the entire county government in a field if we needed to,” he said.

Vogue Towers welcomes interest in colocation opportunities on current and future tower builds in Williamson County. Please contact Janet Gill at janet@voguetowers.net.

By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor

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