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    Default Metchosin to veto repairs for CREST police radio system

    CREST = CRAPPY RADIO EXPECTED TO SAVE THEM

    The red highlighted comment at the end kind of says it all ....

    In the past 3 months it seems like every few days to a week there was another report of CREST failing our police and firefighters in the Victoria area. It got so bad foot patrols are not allowed to patrol alone now.

    For those not familiar with the ongoing problems, I'll try to dig up some history later.

    Metchosin to veto repairs for police radio system
    Tiny district footing unfair share of bill, wants to start own system, mayor says
    Rob Shaw, Times Colonist
    Published: Thursday, June 28, 2007

    The tiny District of Metchosin is set to throw a big wrench into plans to fix the capital region's beleaguered digital emergency radio system.

    Metchosin council has voted not to support changes to the governing structure and cost-sharing of the Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications system -- a move that will grind decision-making at CREST to a halt, and begin a political stalemate.

    Mayor John Ranns said he's ready to leave CREST and start his own rural radio system because it provides such poor service to his fire and police crews. He said Metchosin is also footing an unfair share of the bill.

    Victoria Police Sgt. Grant Hamilton demonstrates the CREST radio system.View Larger Image View Larger Image

    "It's just not reasonable to expect us to support something that will raise our costs for a service we can't use effectively," said Ranns.

    The digital system is supposed to link police, fire, military, ambulance and other emergency responders via secure radios. However, it has been plagued by poor building penetration and intermittent coverage -- much of which has been blamed on cost-cutting when it was implemented in 2003 for $17 million.

    CREST now needs another $6 million to $10 million in fixes in order to work properly, and the changes to the governance and cost-sharing are seen as key to getting that done.

    However, the board of governors needs 100 per cent agreement to spend the money -- a challenging issue given the frequent squabbles among municipalities.

    The board is set to change to a two-thirds approval structure at a meeting next Wednesday, but it needs unanimous approval to make the change.

    Ranns said he doesn't want to bring CREST down, but he's prepared to wield his veto until he gets a fair deal.

    "If it wasn't for the veto there'd be no discussion at all," said Ranns. "It's pretty obvious. If they're not going to address our concerns when we have a veto, they're not going to address our concerns when we don't ... we'll just get completely ignored."

    Metchosin council voted last Monday to tell its CREST representative, Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila, to vote against the changes at the upcoming meeting.

    So far, Metchosin is the only council to try to scuttle CREST, although various municipalities and emergency crews have complained about unreliable service.

    Victoria police now patrol only in pairs because the force says being alone with an unreliable radio is unsafe.

    Ranns said he believes CREST's cost-sharing formula is also unfair, because it more heavily weighs a region's size than its population.

    Metchosin is the second-largest municipality in the region by area, but has just 5,000 residents.

    It pays $35,000 a year for CREST, but Ranns said the district can create a reliable system for $50,000 a year and not face a future increase due to population growth.

    "We're willing to offer [CREST] a solution: Don't waste your time with us. We'll look after ourselves."

    CREST chairman Hy Freedman said CREST has prepared a new presentation it wants to show Ranns before the vote on Wednesday.

    "We're concerned they don't have all the information to make a decision," said Freedman. "I think we're just going to have to continue to try and convince Metchosin that if they want to see improvements in Metchosin, they have to vote for it."

    Freedman's remarks drew an angry response from Ranns, who said he told CREST about the problems a year ago yet heard nothing, and also listened to CREST's council presentation last week.

    "If we were misinformed, why the hell didn't he inform us then? This whole CREST thing, you know, is just ..." he said trailing off and sighing. "Well, I'm not going to say it."

    rfshaw@tc.canwest.com


    Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    What an unfortunate situation for all of the safety people and residents. I sure hope nothing happens to any of them! Sounds like Metchosin is represented by a bunch of clowns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dday05 View Post
    What an unfortunate situation for all of the safety people and residents. I sure hope nothing happens to any of them! Sounds like Metchosin is represented by a bunch of clowns.
    Or perhaps they are the SMART ones.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
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    Ok I reread this and the Metchosin wants to have their own radio system in place and not the crest thing right? If thats the case, then I take back my clown statement about them. The crest thing sounds a bit shady. If I have this all mixed up in my little mind I will just shut the h up.

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    Ok I have time now to do some digging ... these aren't going to be in any particular order date-wise, as I'm just going to post as I find stuff.

    Police Communication System Failing
    Victoria - The union representing Victoria Police officers wants CREST, the Capital Region's Emergency Communications System, replaced with something that works.

    The department itself admits it is worried the failure of the radio system may leave an officer, or a member of the public, badly wounded, or even dead.

    The union is so concerned about the unreliability of CREST, it now requires officers to double up on patrols, which means fewer patrols, and longer response times to non-emergency calls.

    Victoria Police say over the past two weeks, problems with the CREST system have increased. There are many areas where police will have a signal one minute, but it will be gone the next.

    The head of the CREST board syas problems with the radios is nothing new. CREST recently recommended officers take the portable radios off their belt and move them away from their hips. Victoria Police management says that's not an option.

    Communication experts say the only real fix is to move communication from the VHF to UHF band providing better radio penetration in the downtown core.
    http://www.achannel.ca/victoria/news_44698.aspx
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    http://www.achannel.ca/victoria/news_45191.aspx


    Crest Problems
    SAANICH - The Capital Region's emergency communication system, CREST, is being criticized again for putting public safety at risk.

    This time it's not Victoria police who are complaining, instead it's officers from neighbouring Saanich.

    The Saanich Police Association says it can no longer stay silent and it's laying out a long list of dangerous situations where the CREST system has failed.

    The Saanich police department is also questioning whether the system can even be fixed.

    The following revelations come in a long statement written by Saanich Police Association president Steve Irwin.

    That statement reads:

    "I am the president of the Saanich police association and would like to clarify the position of my association members with respect to crest. Though the Victoria police association has taken the lead role in demanding better service from crest, our experience has also been unsatisfactory.

    The crest radios have been responsible for adding two new words to 'police lingo'. The terms 'bonked' and 'garble' are used frequently to describe radio communications. Front line officers have been dealing with radio problems ever since the crest radios were introduced and report to me that they have seen no significant improvement.

    As I understand it, crest is to provide radio communications to all emergency services in the south island and gulf islands. Maybe it is time to ask why? Do the local police need to communicate with the salt spring island volunteer fire department? In the event of an earthquake is the likely answer. How about designing a system that allows police to communicate with each other effectively first. Once that is achieved, then perhaps, crest could consider adding other user groups and extending the range of coverage.

    The members of the spa have quietly stood in support of the Victoria police association. It is our intention to remain silent no longer. The officer safety issues that Victoria police are facing are not significantly different than our own. Though the Saanich police does not have a downtown core to service, the risk of a member of the public or an officer getting injured because the crest radio did not function properly is very real.

    I attended a meeting in the fall of 2005 where crest users were told that an evaluation of the system would be done in the winter and the improvements in place before the summer of 2006. Here we are one year later and no significant improvements have occurred.

    I was present at a crest meeting and was told that part of the problem with the portables is that they are positioned too close to the body and the antenna is under the arm. When crest and Motorola were designing the system, where did they think the radios were going to be positioned? Amazing to think that a police officer puts their portable radio in a holder on their belt. This location is close to the body and the antenna is often under the arm. Just like on the old radios which used to work quite well. Perhaps local police should wear hats like British bobbies, with the radio mounted on top?

    Is the decision to remain with the current technology and spend 6 to 10 million dollars driven by science or politics?

    Below are some of the experiences that spa members have shared with me:

    - in 2004, when I was on the bike unit and assisting street crime with a drug file, we attempted to arrest a fleeing suspect who ran into the mall. I located him inside the 'grocery' store and attempted to arrest and handcuff the suspect. Needless to say, this suspect fought me hard and I was struggling trying to control him. I radioed my partners who were looking for me and were just outside the store. I got "bonked" and no citizens were coming to assist me. I yelled to the pharmacist to dial 911 and to tell dispatch that I was in trouble inside the store. I had to struggle with him for about four minutes until assistance came and in doing so I inadvertently separated the suspect's shoulder.

    This is one of many places I have been bonked. As you know there are also places in the north zone, several buildings in Saanich , galloping goose and Lochside trails, and even in our own building (parts of the community liaison section to name one) Where the radios do not work.

    - I have not noticed any changes in the crest radio system since they were first introduced. When the problems were first noted, we would inform dispatch when bonking or other radio issues occurred. After months/years of the same problems I think members get tired of making a report and not seeing any results. There are times when people are speaking over the radio and only part of their sentence is being transmitted and other times that some radios pick up the transmission but others do not. When listening to the radio, you will frequently hear dispatch inform members that their transmission was not readable. There are areas in Saanich that the radios regularly act up (the east) But the problem can occur in any area at any time, they are just not reliable. This is an officer safety issue, I know the bike squad members do not go out by themselves at night since you can not rely on the radios.

    - in my experience crest does not work at 95% efficiency anywhere in greater Victoria. I first thought that only Victoria and some parts of Saanich have had issues but I can speak to having used crest all over greater Victoria now in the past two years in SCU and the system just simply does not work well. All over the CRD transmissions are garbled, broken, digital static and bonked. Scu spent time documenting the issues last year and all of us submitted numerous logs for deficiencies, I have sent memos too in the past when I was in tsu and have raised the issue several times at association meetings.

    Every time I read the paper, watch the news or listen to cfax I am always hearing that "Saanich says they have some minor trouble but not as bad as Victoria" and having daily first hand experience with the system that statement frustrates me because it is hardly accurate.

    I spent three months in the lower mainland this year working with an intelligence unit, that unit used the e-comm system. Not once in three months did the radio ever bonk, garble or warble. In short e-comm works, crest does not.

    - from an patrol operational perspective, there have been so many incidents out on the road, where members try calling in and are "bonked" routinely...Officer safety issues abound, in my view. I think our members are fed up with the "reporting" of problem areas like we did in the beginning...Because nothing is getting done. Crest is a monumental failure in my view.

    - I have not worked a single shift where these radios work 100 percent of the time. Any time I am in a large building, the portable radio is useless. Examples are home depot, Canadian tire, wall-mart, any grocery store and the entire Tillicum mall. It is the biggest officer safety issue we face and quite frankly, unacceptable.

    If I filled out a crest trouble report for every time it didn't work, I would be filling out several of these every shift.

    - I have heard the bonking and garbled transmissions on a regular and routine basis, and if we were to complete a trouble report for all the problems we are having we would not get much work done.

    The bonking occurs almost randomly and everywhere. This can be from as close to the radio room as in the office to outside anywhere in the municipality. I was on a call at the town and country mall recently, walking along the store fronts and was continually bonked when trying to update dispatch and other units. The Tillicum mall and other malls are still a problem spot, as is the red lion when trying to transmit. I can go into a mall and often receive the intermittent beeping indicating the radio is "out of range".

    I agree the problems we are dealing with are not as bad as what (Victoria City Police) is dealing with, but our problems should be dealt with. I did not have any where near the problems with the old radio system, and the battery life was much better. I also routinely have to change a battery during a shift, and when carrying a spare battery on the road is frowned upon, we are left with another officer safety issue of having no communications at all.

    - I have some major concerns with the crest system in particular the "dead spot" issues. I have worked in a covert unit for the past 2 years and have deployed in various areas of Saanich and other municipalities. On more than one occasion, out team has lost our target due to the inability to acquire a signal on the crest system.

    I understand that the issues and concerns seem to be more prominent in the downtown core, however I have experienced first hand, numerous areas in Saanich where the radios simply cannot be depended upon.

    I hope to see the issues explored in depth and a possible change to a new system in the near future. Officer safety should always be the number one priority when choosing a radio system, and with crest it is only a matter of time until an officer's life is at risk due to a failing system.

    - I cant remember the file number or the day of the incident but a member went off with a shoplifter in 'a grocery store' and ended up as a 10-33. The member couldn't even get reception to call for help. We didn't know about the trouble until after the situation was resolved and the soc was in cuffs. All a result of the member fighting the soc alone and without access to further help.

    This is a huge concern. Our main responsibility as dispatch is officer safety and when the equipment fails, we can not complete our job successfully.

    - I am finding that the radio's are spotty at best. While in the cedar hill x rd / Shelbourne area, the radios seem to bonk quite a bit. Arbutus rd and caddy bay are horrible for reception. One such instance had me calling for cover, however it was garbled beyond distinction. Inside our building, you cannot get reception in exhibits or quite frequently in the CST. Area.

    In terms of equipment issues, the battery life seems to be decreasing in recent months. Its rare that I can go 5 or 6 hours on a battery now.

    - personally, I have had a ton of trouble with the radio system and I think you've hit the nail on the head with your question about apathy setting in. I have not bothered to take the time to put failure reports in, otherwise it would be done on a daily basis, and frankly I'm already swamped with paperwork.

    I get bonked at least 10 times a day; locations have varied, anywhere from the back of our office to hwy 17/Sayward. It gets really frustrating and obviously poses a huge risk as you never know when you may only get one chance at calling for help.

    - in regards to the crest radio system, I can give you some feed back from a bike officer's point of view. The radio system failed regularly. Cst. .... And I would be conducting a check in Cuthbert Holmes park and both our radios would bonk. As per the news letter just released that recommended that we not wear the portable on our hips we would often take the portable out of the holder, hold it straight in the air, move it from side to side and it still would not connect. Then after putting it back in the holder it would randomly re-connect for some reason. I can not even estimate how many times the radios would not connect on a daily basis, however it would be daily. Sometimes it would be Cst ....'s portable, sometimes mine and then on occasion both portables.

    Thank you for having the interest to report on this issue. If any other question arise, please do not hesitate to contact me."

    Sincerely,

    Steven Irwin
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    Thanks for the info. Sorry to be a pain... I would say CREST = POS

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    Just this week ...

    Saanich officers back Victoria with call to fix CREST radios
    System fails frequently at downtown locations, including police HQ
    Times Colonist
    Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2007

    Saanich police officers have thrown their support behind their Victoria counterparts, saying the CREST digital radios are unreliable and potentially dangerous.

    "Our position is that we absolutely support Victoria and the members of their union," said Saanich police union vice-president Todd Lamb. "Our users need to be confident that [the radio] is going to work regardless of where they are at. We're not there yet."

    Victoria police have been the most vocal critics of CREST since its creation in 2003, because the radios frequently fail to work in various downtown locations, police headquarters or some of the most high-profile city locations, such as the Streetlink homeless shelter and malls.


    CREST, which stands for Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications, is supposed to link police, fire, military, ambulance and other emergency responders on a secure radio system.

    Political cost-cutting left the $17-million digital emergency system unable to penetrate downtown buildings, or cover the vast geographic area from Sooke to Sidney and the Gulf Islands. It will cost between $6 million to $10 million more to fix. The CREST board is expected to make recommendations on improving the system at a July 4 meeting.

    Victoria police created their own backup radio system, and have said they are looking at replacement options for CREST. However, Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan said last week that Victoria's frequent complaining is unfair to other, satisfied, CREST users.

    Saanich has been particularly quiet on CREST, but Lamb denies the officers were told to keep their complaints private. He said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard has kept them in the loop on proposed improvements. Saanich is confident CREST can be fixed, he said, but the members are wondering what is taking so long. Leonard sits on the CREST board and was a member in 2003 when the flawed system was created.

    Lamb said Saanich officers have grown so frustrated by CREST's performance they no longer file reports about where and when the radio is failing. "It's too frequent. We can't report on the system that many times in a day."

    Saanich police officers deal with reliability issues, but not necessarily the downtown problems Victoria faces, said Lamb. "For us it's an inconsistency, for them it's complete failure," he said.

    Victoria police union president Sean Plater welcomed the Saanich support.

    "It just goes to prove what we've been saying all along, we're not the only one having issues with the radios and finally someone else has stepped up to the plate."


    Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    http://www.crest.bc.ca/newsroom/inde...ws&SUID=&id=78

    Welcome to CREST

    CREST is a non-profit emergency communications corporation that is owned by Victoria Municipalities, the CRD, BC Transit and the Province of British Columbia.

    News Room
    News Release April 26, 2007

    Victoria BC - A technical assessment done on the CREST radio system says that an investment of $6 - $10 million is needed to increase the area served by the system, its reliability and effectiveness in buildings.

    Results of the study found that the system has:
    - Very good coverage in vehicles except in remote west areas.
    - Poor coverage for handheld radios in some areas of the CREST service area,
    - Inconsistent coverage in buildings in urban areas such as Victoria, Saanich and Esquimalt,
    - Poor coverage for pagers in parts of the Islands and other pockets, and
    - High levels of noise interference at a couple of sites.

    CREST board chair Hy Freedman said,"The CREST board is committed to improving the system. Performance and reliability for the emergency service providers using the system is key, however cost will certainly be a factor in going forward."

    The study makes the following recommendations:

    Short-Term (2007)
    - Addressing interference problems at specific tower sites,
    - Increase system capacity by adding channels at some sites,
    - Making CREST part of the CRD public safety operational environment and decision-making process,
    - Reaching out to stakeholders and providing proactive maintenance, training, problem solving, and assessment and direction on future needs, and
    - Increasing CREST staffing levels to support the above and provide proactive and effective involvement in the CRD public safety strategic environment.

    Intermediate (2007/2008)
    - Increasing the number of towers and/or augmenting the existing sites,
    - Changing how the portable radios are worn by users and its location on their body,
    - Purchasing in-vehicle repeaters to extend the coverage to hand-held radios,
    - Adding satellite receiver sites, and
    - Passing bylaws that require new and renovated buildings to meet public safety radio communications requirements, and prohibiting encroachments on microwave paths through permanent structures such as buildings and vegetation.

    Long-Term (2015+)
    Looking at an open radio system standard for the future.
    - "Given the significance of these recommendations, we will present the study's finding to users for feedback and input on the decisions to be made by the CREST board," said Freedman. "At the same time, work is proceeding on some of the recommendations, including: working with municipalities to pass bylaws that support radio communications on new and renovated buildings. We are developing an application for additional channels from Industry Canada, and we are working on fixing the interference problems identified at specific sites."

    CREST operates a wide-area radio system, and provides emergency communications for police, fire and other emergency service providers in the Capital Region.



    Date Posted: Apr 27, 2007
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    You're not a pain.

    Hoping some of our BC members will chime in.
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    Other than periodic mumbling - which has not been good from the start, and of course what I've read in the news since its inception, CREST has been a failure.

    It was identified from the first operational usages that it did not penetrate into most buildings even within the City of Victoria. There was a report almost from day one that the Police and Fire Chiefs had both sprung cash from their own budgets (theres a story to that effect posted in here somewhere) to purchase additional (private) portable radios for the crews because of the poor coverage.

    Malahat and the Cowichan Valley Regional District (Malahats HQ area) went through something similar at around the same time. CRTC directed that there would be a change in the radio frequency bandwidth that would require all radios to be either replaced or reprogrammed for the new bandwidth. Millions were spent in the replacement of all equipment. We also ran into places where we had no reception, when in the past we did. Although on some channels the signal became stronger... I was able to communicate with King County Fire Dispatch from Washington State on several occasions, but not my own people on the same freq.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Updated:

    Police radios rescued from brink. CREST votes for a two-month delay to changes opposed by Metchosin

    Rob Shaw, Times Colonist Published: Thursday, July 05, 2007

    A last-minute compromise saved the capital region's troubled radio system from political collapse yesterday and pushed it one step toward getting fixed.

    The board of directors for CREST -- the radio system used by police, fire, ambulance and military crews in Greater Victoria -- bowed to demands by the rural municipality of Metchosin and voted for a two-month delay in changing its cost-sharing and governance formulas.

    The 60-day reprieve was a compromise after Metchosin threatened to veto any changes at the board and bring the corporation to a grinding halt. "After that period of time, Metchosin decides to sign on as everybody else has, or Metchosin decides to leave CREST," said Kyara Kahakauwila, the Metchosin councillor who sits on the board of CREST, which stands for Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications.

    Kahakauwila said rural areas pay an unfair share of CREST's bill, because costs are weighted more heavily on geographic size than population. Metchosin is the second-largest municipality in the region by area, but has fewer than 5,000 residents. Kahakauwila said it pays $35,000 a year for CREST, more per capita than some densely populated areas such as Esquimalt. CREST, meanwhile, argues the new cost formula would actually save Metchosin $4,000 by shifting regional revenues.

    It might seem odd that Metchosin wields a veto for a regional radio system used by 20 different groups. But CREST's board has needed unanimous approval from squabbling municipalities to spend money since it was created in 2003. The changes opposed by Metchosin would move CREST to a two-thirds approval structure. That structure is seen as the key to effectively spending $6 million to $10 million to fix the spotty service in buildings and service areas from Sooke to Sidney and the Gulf Islands.

    During the two-month delay, CREST will gather cost and technical estimates on fixes. Its board members, including Metchosin, voted unanimously yesterday to prepare a report on options by September.

    "We are continuing to do what we can to improve," said CREST chairman Hy Freedman. "We're not ready to make any major decisions in two months anyway, because we need to do design and pricing first."

    Metchosin's 60-day plan was orchestrated by Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, who was asked by Freedman to talk Metchosin out of the veto.

    Six of CREST's 20 board members voted against the delay. "The public really demands ... we get on with this," said Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan.

    Kahakauwila said her proposed changes could include exempting Crown land and provincial parks from the geographic-area calculations used to determine a municipality's bill for CREST.

    Kahakauwila must take her final proposal to every municipal council for approval in the next 60 days, something Freedman said may not be possible because summer holidays make for infrequent council meetings.

    The City of Victoria, which has been CREST's most vocal critic and whose police officers refuse to travel alone due to unreliable radios, said it will use the two months to explore alternative radio systems as a backup.

    rfshaw@tc.canwest.com Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

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    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

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    Knew there'd be an article because I heard it on the radio, just didn't have time yet to update the thread.

    Thanks, Rick.

    Oh yeah, and I don't think I saw this anywhere but I could be wrong, the police have also had to use their cell phones to call for backup.
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    Quote Originally Posted by RspctFrmCalgary View Post
    Knew there'd be an article because I heard it on the radio, just didn't have time yet to update the thread.

    Thanks, Rick.

    Oh yeah, and I don't think I saw this anywhere but I could be wrong, the police have also had to use their cell phones to call for backup.
    You are correct. There was an article some while ago to that effect. One of the earliest articles reported that, I think.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Default Crest Update ....

    The latest developments ...

    CREST upgrades promised to work
    Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist
    Published: Saturday, November 17, 2007

    Emergency radio breakdowns that have plagued Victoria police for four years should be a thing of the past by the end of March, says the CREST emergency system's chairman.

    The system will see between $6 million and $10 million in upgrades, including a new transmitter on top of the Capital Regional District's Fisgard Street headquarters and four others in downtown Victoria.

    "We know that our improvements will absolutely do what's required," Hy Freedman said at a news conference yesterday.

    Freedman said the upgrades will achieve 97 per cent coverage, with radio signals reaching inside buildings, something that's proved a problem in the past. The improvements will be tested by a third party "to make sure we're getting what we want," said the Esquimalt councillor.

    Coun. Dean Fortin, Victoria's representative on the CREST board, said the city will sign onto the plan likely next week, once it receives written confirmation of the improvements and costs.

    "One thing that's very important to us, which they say they will deliver, is ... that the radios will work in buildings," Fortin said. "That's what we want for the safety of our officers."

    Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe said the city is "very, very close" to being satisfied the system will meet Victoria's needs.

    "We have been complaining about the lack of reliability and coverage for four years, and I think that the direction that they're going will meet a lot of our concerns," Lowe said.

    Motorola, the company that manufactured CREST, is so sure the improvements will work, it has agreed to build them before being paid.

    "Only if we move forward on the overall improvements would we have to pay for that. So if we don't like it at the end of the day, they'll take it out," said CREST general manager Gord Horth.

    Other planned upgrades include:

    - Transmitters in fire vehicles to support firefighters on the ground or in a building.

    - Boosting the overall strength of the signal to increase the geographic reach and building penetration.

    - Manufacture of a new antenna for police radios worn on the hip to improve reception. (Saanich police have already been testing the new antenna system and report improvements.)

    All of the improvements are to be in place by the end of next summer.

    CREST, which stands for Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications, is the $17-million digital-radio system used by police, fire and ambulance crews and military in Greater Victoria since 2003.

    The system, owned by 20 groups, including the region's municipalities, has been plagued with problems almost from the outset. Victoria has been one of the most vocal critics, due to spotty coverage the system provides police in some areas of downtown.

    Rural areas such as Metchosin have also complained of poor coverage and high costs.

    Victoria police have been using a Telus iDEN mobile system as a backup for more than a year, because they say CREST is too unreliable.

    CREST has now offered to pay Victoria for as much as $25,000 in iDEN operating costs for the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year, and promised that the Motorola system will be operating to acceptable standards by the second quarter of 2008.

    Attempts to make improvements to CREST have been frustrated by the governance system, which provides each of the 20 members a veto. That will change when Victoria signs the new shareholders agreement, which calls for a simple two-thirds majority vote of the board to make system changes.


    Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
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    Sounds like a Tom Von Essen radio travesty to me!

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    Funny,I was thinking the same thing. T.C.

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    Hmmmm interesting concept. Maybe Rick knows how CREST came to be.
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    Default Latest update ...

    Police radio fix due by March
    Rob Shaw, Times Colonist
    Published: Friday, December 14, 2007

    It's hoped the repairs will put to rest frequent complaints about the CREST service, which was built in 2003 for $17 million to provide a single usable radio system for police, fire, ambulance, military and transit crews from Sooke to Saltspring Island.

    Almost as soon as it came online, users complained their radio signals often cut out or became overloaded. Downtown Victoria proved a particular problem area, with weak to nonexistent signals in numerous malls, apartment buildings and parking garages.

    Some of the $10.6 million will be used to build a new tower to try and improve signal strength downtown. Four new repeater boxes will bounce radio waves through the core. There should be a gradual improvement in service until Phase 1 is completed in March, said Freedman.

    The radios are guaranteed to be 97 per cent reliable, he said -- a key point for emergency crews who hold that as a benchmark for public safety standards.

    Victoria police, CREST's biggest critics, are "cautiously optimistic" about the repairs, said Sgt. Grant Hamilton. But they will continue to patrol in pairs and carry backup radios until the improvements are complete, he said.

    Victoria had refused to sign on to changes until it decided whether to abandon CREST completely and build its own system. The city came on board Wednesday.

    There are currently eight CREST towers scattered across the capital region. CREST plans to build 16 additional repeaters by June to boost those signals. It will also place in-vehicle radio repeaters inside fire trucks to boost signal strength at fire scenes.

    "It gets us 97 per cent reliability in most of the populated areas -- it doesn't get us all the way across the region," said CREST general manager Gord Horth. "For example, there are parts of Saltspring Island where you don't receive that. There are parts of less populated areas on the extremities where you don't receive that."

    The municipalities and emergency crews will vote on signing the contract for repairs with Motorola at a Jan. 10 meeting.

    CREST is funded through a levy on each telephone landline in the capital region, as well as money from the municipalities and user groups such as B.C. Transit.

    Motorola originally built the CREST radio system. At the time, it drafted its own benchmarks to test itself and the service level it provided. Motorola passed its own test. When users started complaining about poor reception, the Chicago-based company was found not to be legally liable to fix the problems.

    This time, an independent consulting company has been hired to test Motorola's work, and Motorola itself has agreed to build many of the improvements before being paid.

    rfshaw@tc.canwest.com


    Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
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    Sheri, I read in the TC the other day that they "think the problems might be fixed by March". Any further word on that?
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Yeah, look up LOL. I posted an update last night.

    Unless that's the same article you already read?
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    It will also place in-vehicle radio repeaters inside fire trucks to boost signal strength at fire scenes.
    Oh god no. We should be building systems to phase out the use of those things. They cause 10x more problems than they ever solve. These were high tech when low band was new.

    Motorola originally built the CREST radio system. At the time, it drafted its own benchmarks to test itself and the service level it provided. Motorola passed its own test. When users started complaining about poor reception, the Chicago-based company was found not to be legally liable to fix the problems.
    Why am I not surprised. I can't believe anyone actually let them get away with that.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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