Background

Wake County operates an 800 MHz public safety radio communication system, which is used by municipal police, fire, county law enforcement and emergency medical services within Wake County. Today, over 7,000 mobile and portable radios have been issued to public safety and non-public safety users within Wake County for use on the County’s radio system. Each of these users depends heavily on the Wake County radio system as a fundamental communication tool in performing their duties.

Problem Facing the County

In 2008 the Wake County Information Services department developed a master plan that detailed capital projects the County should plan for over the next seven years for the 800 MHz radio platform the County operates. The County’s master plan also identified the need to begin planning for a radio system replacement as the platform is reaching end of life. Because of the critical nature of the public safety voice traffic that traverses the County’s radio system, it is imperative the County operates a platform that is fully supported from a hardware and software perspective.

Replacement Project Planning

To assist with developing a long-term replacement strategy for the County's existing 800 MHz platform, the County engaged RCC Consultants, Inc., to perform an analysis of the current system (coverage, performance, etc.), and to evaluate and develop upgrade/replacement strategies for the County's aging platform. The County received a comprehensive report from RCC in early 2012, which detailed three upgrade/replacement options. In early FY 2013, the County convened a steering committee comprising key radio system stakeholders to help evaluate the consultant's report to ensure that we have uncovered and addressed all issues facing the County, related to the platform replacement. The steering committee was also tasked with evaluating the upgrade/replacement options documented in the RCC report and with recommending a replacement option, including a detailed funding model.

In early 2013, Information Services updated the Board of Commissioners with initial finds.
View the presentation.


In mid-2013 the steering committee completed the research associated with the platform upgrade/replacement options, and in September 2013 Information Services staff provided the Board of Commissioners a recommendation to partner with the Town of Cary to meet the long-term public safety radio system needs of the County.
View the presentation.


The Cary partnership is the least costly option available to the County and provides the County:

  • A clearly defined maintenance and technology refresh model
  • A fully automated disaster recovery model
  • A radio traffic load reduction of approximately 30%
  • A high level of system management autonomy and flexibility
  • A model that accommodates the City of Raleigh’s future emergency communications center.
  • A savings to County taxpayers of over $2.2 million over the term of the partnership. 

Current Status

In March 2014, Wake County and the Town of Cary executed an interlocal agreement that governs the partnership going forward. The agreement covers all aspects of the shared use of 800 MHz radio system infrastructure owned by the Town of Cary including:

  • infrastructure security guidelines,
  • the ongoing funding of software and hardware maintenance, and
  • future system upgrades and enhancements funding.
View the Wake County Board of Commissioners Interlocal Agreement approval

 

Funding for the 800 MHz radio system replacement project included in the FY 2015–FY 2021 Community Improvement Plan. Project work to replace the County's aging platform is slated to begin in FY 2015.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Wake County Radio System Project - FAQ's (updated July 2014)