Radio 911 Concerns
Dear Editor: The County published a RFP (Request For Proposals) for the 800 MHz Public Safety Communications System. This project is to replace all the equipment at the tower sites and the microwave system that connects the sites to the 911 center. This is not an upgrade as it states in the RFP; it is a wholesale replacement of the infrastructure.
There are some problematic issues which will impact the citizens of Rockdale County in a number of ways. Foremost, the RFP does not make mandate in-building coverage. This instructs the vendors to engineer the radio coverage to a sheriff's deputy in a car or on the street. The unintended consequences will be lack of reliable coverage in the schools, hospitals, government buildings and the jails. Without good coverage in these critical buildings, our public safety personnel will not be able to call for assistance when they need it the most.
In order to achieve in-building coverage, it will require more tower sites that will cost far more than the $4.5 million budget set aside by the SPLOST committee.
There is questionable guidance given to the vendors. For example, why does the RFP require interoperability with Cobb County yet does not require it to be interoperable with Henry or Rockdale County?
The RFP leans heavily in favor of the incumbent vendor. The scoring system that has been created gives the incumbent vendor a 40 percent lead as the capricious requirements can only be met by the incumbent vendor. For example, it gives high scores for being able to be interoperable with Cobb County and other jurisdictions that the incumbent vendor has as customers.
One would also need to know why the incumbent vendor is mentioned in the RFP.
The issue here is the non-incumbent vendors do not have the inside track and their questions need to be answered so they can perform the engineering needed to design the system.
Now comes the question what will you do to ensure your family will get the best 911 system for the dollars you are going to spend?
I ask that our local Board of Education members and all teachers begin to look closely to what product you will get if we continue this purchase as it is now headed. We all remember the past events at our schools and do you want an inferior system at an inflated cost that may NOT perform at the most critical times needed.
The radio system will be addressed during the next meeting of the Fire/911 subcommittee on Oct. 17, 5 p.m. at the Rockdale County Rescue and Fire Department headquarters on 1496 Rockbridge Road. I urge you to ask time off of work and be there by 5 p.m. to ask your questions.
I have posted material on the www.BOCwatch.org in a discussion group named Public Safety Radio RFP 4.5 million and you can begin quickly to get the basics why we need to question closely and ask the RFP of this system be redone before we cannot turn back. The biggest question now is "What is the rush?"
Just remember the fiasco with the software for the water and sewer department. It was so bad it sat on the shelf for years before we were forced to use it and we are still paying huge dollars and will be for years to come.
This kind of error can be avoided again if we require our elected officials to stop the process and begin again with the correctly written RFP.