Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Citing aging equipment and shifting technology, Missoula County on Thursday approved two contracts related to emergency communications totaling just over $2.3 million.

The largest of the two contracts includes an agreement with Motorola for equipment needed for the county's public safety radio system, along with engineering and instillation for $1.8 million.

Andrian Beck, director of the Disaster and Emergency Services for Missoula County, said the approved contract with Motorola is $500,000 less the company's initial quote.

“We have a very unique radio system here in Missoula County,” she said. “Looking at several vendors, we believe the Motorola solution is what's going to be best for us, not only today, but also as we look to transition to future technologies and to address the real problems we have in the urban core by being able to support both VHF and the 800MHz system in our complex simulcast system.”

Chris Lounsbury, the county's Chief Administrative Officer, said the new system will enable the greatest flexibility as technology changes.

“We've been working on the Office of Emergency Management radio project, which involves all of our mountaintops here in Missoula County, of which there are six,” Lounsbury said. “This is the design from Motorola and the equipment breakdown for each of those mountaintops to move them to equipment for the next 10 to 20 years.”

Missoula County also was awarded a grant to update its existing 9-1-1 call-talking equipment. The new equipment will replace current equipment that has exceeded the industry standard for replacement.

The new equipment, estimated at $515,000, also will enable the county to introduce new technology while remaining compatible with future enhancements.