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 Rebuild Florida Critical Hardening Program (CFHP)
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Lake County Site Connectivity and Reliability Justification

Overview

Diagram A: 2009 Simulcast Coverage Design (Map)
Diagram A: 2009 Simulcast Coverage Design

Over the last several years Lake County has invested significant resources to improve public safety throughout the County with a particular focus on improving first responder communication in low to moderate income communities. The build out of the Lake County Public Safety Radio System, began in 2009 utilizing many lessons learned from a 2007 tornado that occurred resulting in significant degradation of the performance of the County’s Public Safety Radio System as multiple sites, across the County, were impacted as a direct result of the storms thereby placing a significant burden on public safety and jeopardizing the ability to effectively communicate. Of primary concern are the higher crime areas which historically have occurred in our communities populated by low to moderate income households. The County subsequently built a 95% radio coverage design throughout the County. (See Diagram A)

Several years later, though progress has been made, the County remains in need. By using CHFP Lake County will address the urgent need to significantly improve the level of interoperability (allowing disparate first responders to communicate with one another). Without these improvements, public safety will be compromised and areas of concentrated crime, primarily low to moderate income communities where seventy percent of the aggregate area served average at least 70% low to moderate income, will be impacted most severely.

Two critical factors impacted Lake County during and as a result of this storm:

  1. Lake County Public Safety Radio System Site Connectivity & Redundancy
  2. Lake County Public Safety Radio System Critical Facilities Hardening

Site Connectivity & Redundancy - $3,850,227

North and South Loop Microwave & Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)
North and South Loop Microwave & Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)

North and South Loop Microwave & Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) –An underbuild of the current microwave system for Lake County, consisting of two loops (North and South) with 10 hops on the north and 9 hops on the south loop following the below system layout.

The first area that significantly degraded the performance of Lake communications was a loss of high capacity data/voice lines that are used to connect each individual site to the County network. Each time a high capacity line goes down for a particular site, that site is no longer able to communicate with the rest of the system or County. As an example, if a first responder is using the Countywide Radio System in the city of Astor, during normal operations (referred to as Wide-Area Trunking), that individual can talk to anyone else in the state where there is coverage. However, if a site loses its connectivity, that site is restricted to operating as an individual site (referred to as Site-Area Trunking) and that person in Astor can no longer talk to anyone outside the coverage area of the Astor tower. If county first responders needed to talk to the County Emergency Operations Center and Emergency Dispatch Center in Tavares and that line was down, they would not be able to communicate to Tavares or the responders in that area. This significantly degrades the capability of the first responder to request resources, ask for assistance, and provide situational awareness back to those agencies that are in need of the information.

During the Groundhog Day tornadoes, there were a significant number of sites that lost all communication capabilities due to damaged high capacity data / voice lines or even worse went offline all together. Out of the then six sites that were operational during, three of them were significantly degraded as a result of high capacity line loss. Diagram C provides a visual on the impact of the system during this event. Areas in yellow are sites that were in Site-Area trunking and areas in red are sites that went completely offline as a result of connectivity issues and loss of power.

Diagram C: Impact of the system during as a result of connectivity issues and loss of power.
Diagram C: Impact of the system during as a result of connectivity issues and loss of power.

In order to prevent such a failure of function / reduction in operational capacity for future events, Lake County is proposing adding an underbuild of robust Microwave connectivity with MPLS between towers. In addition, to simultaneously support all mission-critical and non mission-critical traffic an IP/MPLS-based communications network is needed to support traffic that requires QoS levels beyond best-effort.

Through funding provided by the Rebuild Florida Critical Facility Hardening Program (CHFP), it is the desire of Lake County to add this crucial microwave functionality at sites where we have experienced problems and also at sites where we know we are likely to experience problems with significant public safety impact to our communities. Again, the greatest impact of addressing this urgent need will most critically be felt in areas primarily made up of low & moderate income households based on studies that have historically shown higher level of crime activity in areas of low & moderate income households.

Adding this Microwave functionality will enable Lake County to significantly reduce and minimize the threat of disrupted public safety communications which in turn will translate into greatly improving the general welfare of our communities within Lake County and the safety of our First Responders.

Site Critical Facilities Hardening - $492,925 per site, or all 18 Sites, $8,872,650

Scope Includes per Site: 1 Generator with Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS); 2 Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS); 1 dual heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); Antenna and line (3 Transmit and 1 Receive); Tower Top Amplifier (TTA); Dehydrator; and all services required for Installation and Project Management.

Item Cost
Generator w ATS $116,232
UPS $82,906
HVAC $49,327
Tower Inspections $8,863
TTA $12,240
TX antenna and line $67,829
RX antenna and line $31,229
MW antenna and waveguide $113,958
Dehydrator $10,341
Total $492,925

Mission-critical systems are built to be resilient, but a natural disaster or even a planned major event can cause a part or your entire network to be stressed, impacting your mission-critical operations. Therefore, it is critical to identify our critical facilities that need hardening and/or update or replace existing power sources to mitigate emergency-related challenges. Best practice approaches to site resilience are back-up power source/s – generators and batteries, temperature regulation, antenna system engineering, using multiple antennas, combiners and multicouplers at large sites. During natural disasters, it is most often lack of power, back-up power, and/or controlled environmental elements that brings radio systems down.

The ANSI/APCO Public Safety Grade Site Hardening Requirements compiled by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, represents site requirements with the specific future intention to establish “hardening” standards, which create public safety grade sites. This standard represents public safety requirements regarding various characteristics to make mission critical communications network sites sufficiently robust to meet the service availability requirements of public safety. In other words, what it takes to make network sites “public safety grade” or the extent to which they are “hardened.” Lake County desires their Public Safety Communications Sites to withstand the onslaught of natural or manmade potential weather conditions in Florida, including the likelihood to be subject to hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disasters.

Funding

The initial funding of the Lake Countywide Radio Communications System was accomplished with County General Fund revenues. FEMA assistance was used to rebuild lost infrastructure from the Groundhog Day tornadoes as well as a onetime Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Grant participation. The P25 Countywide system rebuild utilized these sites and components and integrated them into the new design. In addition, the County has participated over time in the homeland security grants (State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSP) and Urban Area Security Initiative [UASI]) and a onetime Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant to build security and efficiencies into the system to serve Lake County and the Central Florida Region 5 Domestic Security Task Force. Lake County has accepted grant funding, implemented, and has been able to integrate the support and maintenance of these items into its General Fund Revenue budget requiring no sustainment from state, federal grants, or other sources.

Lake County implemented and has maintained the system since 2007. The radio system was optimized by continual maintenance enhancements that replaced obsolescence and created efficiencies. The current Maintenance budget is $1,843,811 annually which goes to support the day to day operation as well as keeping the system current to developed technologies and free of obsolescence. The facility hardening components are not included in this and are maintained in-house or by other contracts. This equipment has reached its useable life expectancy and requires replacement. No funding source is available to address. Funding from the CHFP grant is critical to support public safety efforts in areas low to moderate income families and to the county as a whole.

Summary

In summary, the funding sought by Lake County towards providing uninterrupted communications is very much aligned with the national objectives defined by the CHFP program. Fundamentally, by ensuring the safety net of public safety communications we will directly be impacting our low and moderate Income housing areas throughout our communities to ensure that the overall welfare of our communities are enhanced by improved first responder response.

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