Dane County Moving Forward with Development of New Emergency Communications Network

January 25, 2012
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive

Most Cities, Villages, Towns Authorize Agreements to Partner with County on "DaneCom"

After securing intergovernmental agreements from most of the cities, villages, and towns in Dane County, the county is moving forward to develop a new emergency communications radio network, County Executive Joe Parisi and County Board Chair Scott McDonell announced today.


The project, known as "DaneCom," will seamlessly link emergency responders and public works officials across Dane County.  The result will be a system that greatly improves radio coverage in rural, outlying areas, keeping responders and citizens safe.


Under the terms of agreements signed by 55 of 59 municipalities participating in the network, Dane County will pay the capital costs of constructing the new system – about $18 million.  After the network is up and running, the county, cities, villages, and towns will share the ongoing cost to operate and maintain the network, estimated at $825,000 annually.


"Our fire departments, emergency medical service (EMS) providers, and law enforcement agencies partner together to keep us safe,” said County Executive Joe Parisi.  “Now the county is doing the same with its communities – teaming together in the interest of public safety.”


"This project has gone through many iterations, but thanks to the collaborative efforts of our locally elected officials, and diligence of County Board Chair Scott McDonell, we are now moving forward on a radio system to keep our responders and citizens safe," Parisi added.


“The county had a choice when faced with new federal regulations: either meet the letter of the law which would have actually decreased the quality of our emergency communications system, or develop an improved system with reliance on communities as partners to help shoulder the on-going operations cost of the system along with the county,” said Dane County Board Chair Scott McDonell. “ I am proud that, together, we have made the choice to invest in a 21st century radio system to serve our citizens.”


 “I am glad that the DaneCom System is finally moving along and it has been a long time in coming,” said Gary Ziegler of the Dane County Emergency Medical Services Association and member of the DaneCom Governnance Board.  “This System, although probably not everything we wanted, will go along way towards meeting the interoperability needs of the emergency responders in Dane County.  It will also help to keep our responders safer when performing their duties.”


"We have worked with the County to improve public safety and make this system happen and will continue to work with the County to identify long-term funding," said Jerry Derr, Dane County Towns Association President.


The new digital communications system includes a variety of state of the art features including expanded coverage to rural areas, enhanced technology to assist firefighters communicate on the scenes of fires, and communication bridges allowing responders using different networks to talk with one another.  This will be particularly helpful in improving communication on incidents that involve a regional response.


"DaneCom" will be managed in the years ahead by the "DaneCom Governance Board " comprised of representatives of Dane County, the Dane County Cities and Villages and Dane County Towns Associations, the Dane County Chiefs of Police, Dane County EMS Association, and Dane County Fire Chiefs Associations.


In the weeks ahead, the County Board will review a resolution authorizing the County Executive to sign the dozens of intergovernmental agreements from cities, villages, and towns.


Once that process is complete, construction of "DaneCom" will begin shortly thereafter, with an estimated completion and implementation in 2013.


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