Emergency Upgrade

The City of Houston will soon authorize lease agreements to pay for radio tower space across the region. The 20 to 30 year leases are part of the city's overall radio communications upgrade. Laurie Johnson reports.

Houston Councilmembers will vote this week on nearly $9.4 million dollars worth of contracts to lease space on
more than a dozen radio towers. The leases are one of the first steps in a comprehensive overhaul of the city's emergency response radio system.

Houston's IT Deputy Director Tom Sorley is in charge of the radio communications project. He says they just finished finalizing the project design.

"We are putting up roughly 48 sites of radio equipment, or different locations if you will of radio equipment around the city. And most of those are existing facilities, or facilities that we're leasing from someone else. We were given instructions to minimize any new towers, so we have very, very few of those in the design."

Sorley says the new system will allow emergency responders to communicate between departments and jurisdictions.

"We have three distinct radio systems now that are reaching the end of their life cycle. And so we're building one big system that will provide communications for police, fire, public works and other area public safety responders."

More tower lease agreements will follow in the next few weeks.

The city will begin installing and testing equipment next year. The goal is to have the new radio system functional by 2012.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...