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Public officials continue to scramble for answers on why multi-million dollar digital trunked radio systems are perceived as failures. Today’s example is a new $37 million Motorola P25 system operated by the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Agency (MECA) in Marion County Indiana. Police officers and firefighters have raised potentially life-threatening safety concerns over the county’s digital radio system, and the MECA board of directors has called off two monthly meetings in a row. It appears that the MECA board has no satisfactory answers for the concerns raised.

You would think that the numerous examples of such failures throughout the country would lead reasonable and prudent decision makers to change direction. Digital trunked radio technology is clearly problematic in numerous ways, but Motorola and other vendors continue to aggressively sell the technology and unwitting government bureaucrats commit hundreds of millions of dollars to buy it. It will be interesting to see how Motorola, other system vendors and government agencies prevail when lawsuits stemming from lives that are lost because of radio communications problems become commonplace. The burden of settling the lawsuits may make the cost of the deficient equipment seem insignificant. Can Homeland Security grant money be used to pay judgments or settle lawsuits?

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