The implementation of AFRRCS (the Alberta First Responder Radio Communications System) – a new P25 trunked two way radio network designed for use by first responders in municipal, provincial and First Nations agencies – is already well underway. The province-wide AFRRCS initiative seeks to vastly improve the safety of first responders (police, fire, and ambulance) and in so doing enable them to better serve the citizens of Alberta. Here are 10 important facts about AFRRCS:
- The primary objective of the initiative is to drive interoperability amongst currently disparate systems: enabling first responders from different branches to be able to communicate and exchange data through a unified radio communications system.
- AFRRCS is being built by Harris Corporation, in co-ordination with the government entities Service Alberta and the Alberta Solicitor General, Office of Public Security (SGPS).
- The Provincial government is funding the network’s construction, and while Harris is the primary contractor, there are many local integrators lending their expertise to this monumental project.
- AFRRCS is being built to APCO P25 standards: Project 25 (P25 or APCO-25) basically lays out standards for digital radio communications for use by federal, provincial and local first responders providing interoperability amongst agencies and mutual aid response teams in emergencies.
- As a P25 system, the province mandates that the system must support P25 Phase 1 and Phase II end user equipment. Any agency granted access to the network can purchase P25-compliant radio equipment that has been tested by the Province and is on the Permitted List.
- The inherent interoperability of P25 standards will allow first responders to fully coordinate joint responses to emergency events – making for safer, more efficient responses – both en route and on site.
- The AFRRCS system primarily uses the new portion of the 700 MHz frequency band designated for public safety use. Some AFRRCS tower sites in remote and mountainous areas use the VHF frequency band, but the majority of sites support only 700 MHz radio equipment.
- While first responder agencies are encouraged to use AFRRCS, their participation is voluntary.
- P25-compatible user equipment is available in the form of portable or hand-held two way radios, mobile radios in vehicles, pagers, vehicular repeaters, dispatch consoles, interoperability gateways, and voice recorders.
- AFRRCS is designed to replace two province-wide radio systems:
• Province of Alberta Communication System (PACS) – used by the RCMP.
• Multi Departmental Mobile Radio System (MDMRS) – used by the Alberta government.
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