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Background
Introduction

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:
STATE OF OREGON - Granted the Request for Waiver. (Dkt No.  99-87).
Action by:  Deputy Chief, Policy and Licensing Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
Adopted:  08/20/2012 by ORDER. (DA No. 12-1357).
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-12-1357A1.doc
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-12-1357A1.pdf
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-12-1357A1.txt
  

 

Relevant Legislative Documents
Executive Order Number EO 02-17
Established the Statewide Interoperability Executive Council. September 10, 2002
 
House Bill 2101
Section 1 acknowledges the need for an updated, interoperable communication system in the State of Oregon. August, 2005
  1. The Oregon Legislative Assembly finds that:
    1. The public safety communications infrastructure of the State of Oregon is rapidly aging, outdated and at severe risk of failure;
    2. The adopted policies and standards and specific deadlines mandated by the Federal Communications Commission will require replacement of statewide public safety communications infrastructure in the State of Oregon;
    3. The reliability of mission-critical public safety communications infrastructure during a man-made or natural disaster is crucial to saving lives and property and to protecting the public during an emergency;
    4. The deteriorating condition of our public safety radio system is of immediate concern because it compromises the safety and well-being of the citizens of the State of Oregon who depend upon lifesaving communications systems used by first responders;
    5. The majority of communications systems in the State of Oregon are unreliable, greatly increasing the danger to first responders and law enforcement officers in carrying out their duty to protect the citizens and property of the State of Oregon;
    6. It is in the public interest of Oregonians to plan for improvement of the public safety communications infrastructure to ensure long-term stability; and
    7. Federal funding for homeland security may be available to facilitate all or part of the development and implementation of a plan for improvement of the public safety communications infrastructure in the State of Oregon.
  2. It is the policy of the State of Oregon:
    1. To develop, finance, maintain and operate a single emergency response wireless communications infrastructure that supports both the communications needs of all state agencies and ensures communications interoperability among all state, local tribal and federal public safety agencies, thereby maximizing shared use of this invaluable public asset.
    2. To meet Federal Communications Commission mandates for the conversion of public safety communications frequencies and spectrum allocation by 2013.

Federal Communications Commission Mandate
January 1, 2013 Narrowband Deadline
"Due to the increased demand for bandwidth, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has undertaken efforts to increase the available communications channels within the limited radio spectrum bands.
 
Narrow banding can been used to improve spectrum efficiency. Reducing the single voice channel bandwidth from the traditional analog value of 25 kHz to a value 12.5 kHz and further down to 6.25 kHz. The availability of usable channels is effectively doubled or quadrupled in the same equivalent bandwidth.
 
In 2004 the Commission ruled that all private land mobile radio users operating below the 512 MHz must move to 12.5 kHz narrowband voice channels and highly efficient data channel operations by January 1, 2013.
 
The rule implies mandatory narrow banding implementation by not allowing any new licenses for devices and equipment with 25 kHz wide channels after January 1, 2011. by the end of 2012, all legacy communications systems below 512 MHz should convert to narrowband operation.
 
To migrate to narrowband operations, public safety agencies must apply for new narrowband licenses or modify existing licenses while justifying channel requirements by that deadline."
 
Information taken from "Tech Topics: Topic 16 - Narrow banding Public Safety Communication Channels," written by Bill Lane, Chief Engineer and Acting Chief of the Public Communications Outreach and Operations Division of the Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
 
All Tech Topics can be found on the FCC website: http://www.fcc.gov/pshs/techtopics
 
Read the complete "Tech Topic 16: Narrow banding Public Safety Communication Channels" in PDF.

9-11 Commission
Command and Control within First Responder Agencies
"The task of accounting for and coordinating the units was rendered difficult, if not impossible, by internal communications breakdowns resulting from the limited capabilities of radios in the high-rise environment of the World Trade Center and from confusion over which personnel were assigned to which frequency.
 
Furthermore when the South Tower collapsed, the overall FDNY command post ceased to operate, which compromised the FDNY's ability to understand the situation; an FDNY marine unit's immediate radio communication to FDNY dispatch that the South Tower had fully collapsed was not conveyed to chiefs at the scene.
 
The FDNY's inability to coordinate and account for the different radio channels that would be used in an emergency of this scale contributed to the early lack of units in the South Tower, whose lobby chief initially could not communicate with anyone outside that tower."
 
Information taken from The 9/11 Commission Report, Section 9 - Heroism and Horror. Written under the direction of Commission Chair Thomas H. Kean and Commission Vice Chair Lee H. Hamilton.
 
The complete 9/11 Commission Report can be viewed on the archived National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States website: http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/index.htm
 
Read Section 9.4 of The 9/11 Commission Reportin its entirety.