Small Town, Big Festival and Radio Communications

The following story came to me from an officer at a Sheriff’s Department.

Background on the Festival

Oyster Festival

A small town, very small in fact, hosts an annual oyster festival. This town has only a handful of
full-time and part-time sheriffs and deputies. During the festival, the town population swells to over 100,000. In order to accommodate the influx of tourists, sheriff departments from the surrounding jurisdictions are called in to supply additional manpower. However, establishing radio communications between these agencies is quite difficult.

The Problem of Dissimilar Radio Systems

Agencies from these surrounding areas do not typically work together, and do not have the same radios; some have 800 MHz radios, some even have old UHF radios. To supply radios to every officer, for communications during the festival, would be extremely expensive. For example, one agency brought a bike team of 20 officers.

A Solution Using the ICRI – Radio Interoperability Gateway

Cross Band Repeater for Inter-Jurisdiction Communications During Big Festivals

Cross Band Repeater for Inter-Jurisdiction Communications During Big Festivals

We were requested by this small town to supply the a repeater, in order to bridge the dissimilar radios systems of the participating agencies. The cross-band repeater would allow the visiting departments to use their own radios, during the 3-day-long event.

To deploy the ICRI, as a repeater, we located it on highest point in the town. This happened to be the top of a water tower. We connected two radios to the ICRI, and positioned the system in the interior of the structure.  Two remote antennas, one for each radio, were placed on the top of the tower, and were separated as far as possible. We plugged in power, and turned on the ICRI, and “walked away.”, knowing that we could leave it unattended.

When I got back to my hotel room, I was almost 20 miles from the ICRI, and turned my mobile radio onto the channel of one of the radios connected to the ICRI. I could still monitor communications during the festival, even from that distance. No maintenance of the ICRI was required for duration of the 3 day festival.

Lessons Learned from the Event

To extend the range of a radio, you don’t necessarily need more power, you need more height. The 5 watt portable radios, that typically have a range of just a few miles, can cover significantly more area,  if they are located on a high point.

Planning a large festival and need inter-jurisdiction or inter-agency communications?



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