R23m pumped into disaster preparedness plan

2015-08-27 17:59

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has pumped R23m into the upgrade of a digital radio communications network as part of its disaster strategy.

It said on Thursday the network will assist in handling a major disaster.

The system improves intercommunications, response times and provides reliable and effective communications during special events, emergencies and disasters, said mayoral committee member for corporate services Xanthea Limberg.

Initially commissioned in 2001, the system has to be upgraded every five to seven years, she said.

The system has proved its reliability in the past 14 years.

"The system has never failed and continually meets our user’s needs.

"Over and above the public safety functionality, reliability, availability and the essential intercommunication during peak times that the system offers, it has proved to be financially feasible in that the total cost of ownership per radio is less than, for instance, the cost to operate other private radio or cellphone networks."

This network replaced the "obsolete and inadequate" analogue radio systems previously used, allowing for total intercommunication between all the service departments in the city, Limberg said.

"In the event of a major disaster, what would happen if all communication channels broke down?

"While some may argue that this money could be better spent on other services, the city sees its preparedness to effectively handle a major disaster as a highly essential service," she said.

Service provider Motorola Solutions managing director Vikela Rankin said the system is now better able to continue operating, despite power outages or major incidents such as floods and mountain fires.

Rankin said the system is set up so that all the public safety agencies' communications across a range of radio groups remain secure and private.

This ensures that those with police radio scanners cannot listen in on communications, while GPS location tracking and mapping allows the command centre to monitor users, such as police officers, and instantly dispatch services to their exact location.

The recent upgrade is the largest public service and safety communications network in the country, Limberg said.

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