SDG hires consultant to help with new radio system
The Standard-Freeholder
 

To determine the cost of a county-wide radio communication and paging network, SDG council will hire an independent consultant.

Council approved the release of an RFP that seeks out an initial consultation on how to upgrade and integrate SDG’s radio and paging networks for roughly $20,000, to be transferred from the service delivery reserve.

The idea is to merge all municipal fire department, road crew and operational staff members on a single, comprehensive dispatch radio system, to cut costs. Currently, each township has its own systems. At SDG, there isn’t really a functional radio network given it went with the now-defunct push-to-talk cellphone-based communications system over 10 years ago.

Currently, the equipment of most townships has been described as “very old” by South Glengarry Fire Chief Dave Robertson, who told South Glengarry council in March there are “stability” issues with its system. In April, he told SDG council there are “significant advantages in us going forward (and investing in collectively in new infrastructure).”

Consultants familiar with SDG’s systems estimated the cost of replacing the system was $2 million to $2.5 million. Just over half that cost would cover the county-wide infrastructure like towers, while 45 per cent of the cost would be for end-user equipment, like the radios themselves. But IT services director Mike St.-Onge said an independent consultant could provide more affordable options.

“In having an independent opinion, an independent engineer, we are more assured that we will get a solution that actually meets our needs, not over-bill, and looks at different options,” he said.

Because certain townships have more updated systems than others, the consultants would help determine what each municipality would have to pay. Should council decide against a single communications system, St.-Onge said the consultation would provide fire chiefs with important information on what they’d need to improve their networks.

“Even if were thinking, ‘let’s not go any further than this initial engagement,’ we’ll have a better idea of what we have, what we need,” he said.

St.-Onge reached out to the City of Cornwall, who was interested in joining the system, but said the city is looking at its own multi-year update to its communications systems.

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