Podcast 9

Transitioning from Agency-Owned to Commercial Wireless Data Networks

Topic/Title: "Transitioning from Agency-Owned to Commercial Wireless Data Networks"

Description: Kitsap County, Washington, is a key participant in a project funded by a COPS 2007 Technology grant to connect agencies on the western side of Puget Sound to shared data systems. The Bremerton Police Department received the grant in partnership with Kitsap County, other municipal jurisdictions, and two Indian nations. At the center of the project has been replacement of an agency-owned wireless data network with commercial services.

Participant: Lt. John Sprague, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Washington

  Listen to Full Interview (duration time: 27:41:00)

Questions:
  1. Your previous mobile data network was similar to others around the country based on land mobile radio technologies.
    1. Why was it put in originally?
    2. What applications was it used for?
    3. Did you see reductions in the amount of voice traffic after it was installed?
    4. How was the coverage?
    5. Did frequency availability limit expansion potential?
    6. Were there problems keeping equipment in use synchronized across agencies?
  2. What drove the switch to commercial wireless services?
    1. Capacity – both in terms of throughput and simultaneous usage – is obviously a big difference. What sort of impact does that have on mobile applications you can use?
    2. How does the availability of common networking protocols, like TCP/IP, change what you can do from the mobile side?
  3. What are the risks of using commercial services?
    1. Do you have concerns with the survivability of the commercial networks?
    2. Did that affect your choice of carriers?
    3. Are you concerned about a lack of priority access for public safety users?
  4. Let’s talk about costs. Some agencies contemplating switching from legacy mobile data networks to commercial wireless services struggle with monthly recurring costs. For example, grants won’t pay for ongoing service outside of the grant period.
    1. How have you evaluated costs?
    2. Did you have ongoing costs for the previous system?
    3. Were you able to offset any specific costs with the switch?
    4. Are there cost differences between participating agencies?
    5. Have recent economic impacts in the region led to more or less support for using commercial services?
  5. Has the project improved interagency cooperation in other ways?
  6. In closing, what are your take-away messages for agencies similarly switching from agency-owned systems to commercial network services?

  Written transcript of interview