County’s Proposed Radio System Raises Issues with ICIS

A Los Angeles County plan to build a system that would allow emergency response teams in different cities to communicate across jurisdictional lines could pose problems for a system already in place in Burbank and Glendale.

Burbank, Glendale, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Montebello and Pomona have already invested in a system of their own, called the Interagency Communications Interoperability System, or ICIS. But officials from those cities are concerned that the county’s version will not take into account the progress that cities like Burbank and Glendale have made, Burbank City Manager Mary Alvord said.

“We truly believe that L.A. on a countywide basis should have one system,” she said. “But there has to be a level playing field in that we don’t lose the ground that we’ve made.”

Burbank officials will bring their concerns to a meeting Wednesday with County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, encouraging county organizers to bring their plan to a forum where city managers across the county can discuss potential details of a regional communication system.

If Burbank decides to join the county’s plans for a regional system, officials want to make sure they still have a say in how a countywide system might be governed, she said. In addition, officials want to assure that funding sources sought through federal legislators will be distributed evenly between participating jurisdictions, she said.

For example, as a part of building the infrastructure for ICIS, Burbank updated all the hand-held radios used by public safety and public works officials in the field — at a cost of between $2,000 to $5,000 per unit, said Ron Davis, general manager of Burbank Water
and Power.

Since county officials will have to spend money to update hand-held radios countywide, issues emerge as to what would happen to Burbank’s share of that money, he said.

“The question is not that we don’t want to collaborate, but how to make it fair for all parties,” he said.

Alvord said she was encouraged by participation in a Monday conference with city managers from other municipalities and the heads of public safety departments.

“Initially, the reaction was that, ‘Oh my gosh we’re going to get swallowed by the county and they’re not going to play fair,'” she said. “But at the end of the day, there are funding issues to deal with here.”

By Chris Wiebe (Published March 1, 2007)

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