DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – Quad City first responders in Illinois and Iowa are going digital, upgrading their old analog radio system earlier this month.
The system was officially launched Nov. 9 and is expected to be fully implemented in Rock Island and Scott counties by the end of the month.
The new digital system brings a few different features to the Public Safety Department radio frequencies. Among the most crucial, it has the potential to reduce response times in situations where seconds matter.
“It’s fractional, but every fraction counts,” said David Donavan, director of the Scott Emergency Communications Center.
Going digital is changing the way many volunteer fire departments are notified of a call.
“It streamlines some functions that used to be maybe two or three different clicks,” Donavan said. “When we called a fire department, we had to direct them to several different towers, the new system allows that to be done with just one click.”
The process of change began four years ago. Agencies on either side of the river used different analog equipment, which made it more difficult to communicate during ongoing situations.
The new radios will help agencies coordinate more quickly in the two states.
“Although the river separates Iowa from Illinois, Scott from Rock Island County, we know our first responders work together a lot, they help each other,” Donavan said. “It will put all of these agencies on the same system. This will allow native interoperability between these, we all carry the same types of radios.
The encryption brought to the system protects information on ongoing investigations or medical information. These are not just life-threatening situations, but also normal daily traffic stops.
“Speaking, [about] people’s driver’s licenses, names, birth dates and things like that,” Donavan said. “Encrypted channels will help us keep this information private.”
Digital radios will also allow agencies to create different channels for community events like the Bix 7 in Iowa or the John Deere Classic in Illinois. This will once again simplify communication for agencies working on an event.
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