REVERSE THE SWITCH: County Joins Statewide Radio System | Local News
Lauderdale County first responders will benefit from better reception and better communication options once the county completes its transition to the Mississippi state-wide wireless information network.
The MSWIN system, which is operated by the Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission, was created after Hurricane Katrina to address compatibility and reliability issues with the state’s network of emergency communication systems operated by counties and municipalities.
Lauderdale County Emergency Management Director Odie Barrett said the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department completed the switch to MSWIN on October 6 and feedback from MPs had been overwhelmingly positive.
âIt’s going well,â he said.
Sheriff Billy Sollie said Wednesday that MPs had not reported any issues with dead zones with the new radios.
“I haven’t had any MPs to complain about dead spots,” he said.
Barrett said he was excited to switch to the new system. The MSWIN network, he said, is cheaper, more reliable and facilitates coordination with outside agencies.
In the past, Barrett said, a large emergency response with outside help meant scavenging additional radios to distribute to aid agencies because their radios would not talk to the county system.
With the MSWIN system, he said, it takes a phone call to MWCC to get a dedicated channel that anyone can use.
âAll we have to do is call the wireless commission and tell them what we’re doing,â he said.
Communication is a crucial tool for first responders, Sollie said, and the new radios make it easier to communicate with other agencies when cooperation is needed.
âIt’s a great mutual aid tool,â he says.
The MSWIN system also covers more of Lauderdale County, Barrett said. The county’s old Motorola system used three radio towers to relay signals, leaving some areas of the county where first responders could not communicate.
There are five MSWIN towers in County Lauderdale and two other towers nearby, Barrett said. With the ability to use seven towers instead of three, radio communications will be more reliable.
“It opened up communications,” he said.
With the extra rounds, Sollie said the sheriff’s department was able to eliminate some of the radios in department vehicles. In the patrol cars, he said MPs still had a vehicle radio in addition to the radio on them, but members of the East Mississippi Drug Task Force, the Sheriff’s Administration and some other MPs could stay. in touch with just a handheld.
And, said Barrett, the MSWIN system is cheaper for residents of Lauderdale County. As a state-run network, MSWIN is paid by taxpayers, he said. By joining, the county uses taxpayer dollars wisely and eliminates the need for an additional county-run radio network.
Operating the old system costs county taxpayers about $ 120,000 a year, Barrett said. After a first purchase of new equipment to join the MSWIN network, he said the system would be much less expensive to operate.
âIt will be cost neutral in about 8 years,â he said. âAfter that, taxpayers will save about $ 120,000 per year. “
Barrett said the county had examined MSWIN for several years before changing. With the county’s 10-year contract with its former supplier coming to an end, he said the timing made sense. Additionally, Barrett said the county radio system was becoming obsolete and the county should have purchased new equipment regardless of which radio system was used.
âWe were going to have to do something by 2025 anyway,â he said.
After making sure the radios were distributed among the county’s first responders, Barrett said the remaining departments were ready to complete the switch to MSWIN on Tuesday.
The city of Meridian will remain on the old system for the time being, he said, but plans are in place to switch to MSWIN as well.