Not long after September 11, 2001 the Governor of Oregon decided that something had to be done about the state’s aging radio system. Oregonians couldn’t count on reliable public safety communications during a crisis. So he signed an Executive Order and set up the Statewide Interoperability Executive Council to improve public safety communications statewide.
In 2005 the State Legislature passed HB 2101 to consolidate and upgrade the radio systems used by the Department of Transportation, State Police, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Forestry. Lawmakers also called for the creation of an interoperable communications infrastructure that would allow all state, local, federal and tribal public safety agencies to share information instantly. OWIN (Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network) was established and funded to manage the multi-faceted project.
Adding to the urgency of the project is a mandate from the Federal Communications Commission to abandon wideband and switch all public safety radio systems to narrowband by 2013. This will allow greater use of the radio spectrum as analog systems are replaced by digital systems. For the first responder, it will mean confidence in mission critical communications.
Initially, the OWIN project was managed by the Oregon State Police, and then transferred to the Oregon Department of Transportation in April 2010.
In February 2011, Governor Kitzhaber released his proposed 2011-2013 budget. The Governor’s proposal called for a revision to OWIN’s purpose and budget. ODOT began restructuring the project in response to the proposal, developing a new delivery schedule and restructuring the project budget.
The revised project, renamed the State Radio Project, will meet the Governor’s objectives and fulfill the legislative mandate to update Oregon’s emergency communications system.
At the direction of the legislature, and in an effort to lower the overall cost of the project, the radio project has actively engaged potential partners, at both the county and city levels, to take advantage of existing infrastructure. The project is also working with private system operators to determine what specific infrastructure opportunities can serve the system coverage and functionality, as well as the good of the public.
In its first year, the project worked to meet the federal narrowbanding deadline of Jan. 1, 2013. Because of issues with the installation of mobile radios, however, the project applied to the Federal Communications Commission for an extension of the deadline; approval was granted and the new deadline for narrowbanding is Nov. 1, 2013. The Oregon Narrowbanding waiver can be found in the following links: