Bulletin Reports

Radio Interoperability

The U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, presents Wisconsin State Patrol Tests New Path to Radio Interoperability, which highlights a strategy for adopting the Project 25 radio interoperability standards. Project 25 refers to a suite of standards for digital, two-way wireless communications products. A committee of manufacturers, public safety agencies, and state and federal communications professionals launched Project 25 in 1989 to provide detailed standards for interoperable radios.

The Wisconsin State Patrol ran a four-site pilot program that created P25 capabilities across the network. The agency tested a P25 channel controller, a new product that converts conventional analog repeaters into P25 repeaters across multiple sites and in support of multiple frequencies. Although participants ran into various problems related to programming, the pilot experience showed the extent of the cooperation needed between the vendor and law enforcement communities to achieve the best and most cost-effective solution.

Law enforcement agencies considering adopting the P25 may benefit from reduced technology and labor costs. They can convert existing analog channels to P25 digital signaling without changing base stations. The Wisconsin State Patrol P25 pilot exposed several pitfalls that agencies should consider when migrating to P25, namely the varying terminology, settings, and software provided by the manufacturers. Through this pilot experience, practitioners and vendors alike gained a better understanding of the outstanding issues and identified ways to improve the implementation of P25-compliant technology. For additional information, access the report (NCJ 229517) at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s website, http://www.ncjrs.gov.