Oak Bay Fire Chief Darren Hughes gets a demonstration of portable radios as fire officials from around the region, including the Saanich Peninsula, received training on the digital vehicular repeater system. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

New system aims to increase coverage, cut costs for Greater Victoria first responders

Local fire crews continue switch to new system

On the surface, it looks like a medium-sized suitcase. However, what’s inside the digital vehicular repeater system (DVRS) can save money and ultimately lives.

Fire officials from across Greater Victoria gathered in Central Saanich Wednesday morning to receive training on the DVRS, which roughly amounts to be being a portable WiFi booster that improves digital communication for firefighters while on scene.

Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST) is currently migrating to an all-digital platform and the Project 25 technology presented Wednesday promises to offer many improved system features that will strengthen public and emergency responder safety, not to mention help people in need of assistance.

Following a comprehensive testing and training period, Greater Victoria’s core area went ‘live’ for police agencies in January. Fire agencies in the core (minus the Victoria Fire Department) moved onto the new P25 network over the summer. Peninsula agencies have been testing the new system and are poised to follow.

Taso Barous, a communication technologist with CREST, said communication channels in analogue mode are subject to interference that can make it difficult to receive and transmit information. Digital-mode communication clears up the audio but requires expensive towers and new building techniques among other factors such as distance impair wireless communication.

RELATED: CREST technology goes digital

Wireless public safety networks have been deployed on the premise that an “outdoor network of high sites” would provide the necessary coverage, according to a background briefing provided at Wednesday’s event. But this approach leaves many individuals working in high-rise office buildings, shopping malls, hospitals, government buildings and tunnels with severely limited coverage for emergency services. To fill this in would be impractical economically.

This is where the DVRS kicks in noted Barous. “You bring the coverage with you.”

The distance a DVRS can boost a signal depends on a number of factors, including terrain, vegetation and buildings. It costs about $20,000, which is far below the cost of a wireless tower.

According to the briefing, all emergency and public service agencies in the Capital Region support the transition towards Project 25 as part of CREST’s technology infrastructure, which includes 30 transmission sites, more than 50 in-vehicle repeaters, and 2,500 mobile and portable radios.

Preparation to launch the Project 25 system in core communities started in 2017. In 2018, new infrastructure/transmission sites appeared in High Rock Park in Esquimalt and in View Royal to fill coverage gaps.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: A morning in a physically-distanced Victoria

Residents commute in a pandemic-changed city

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Saanich bylaw sparks EV charging infrastructure requirements in new builds

All new developments to be EV-charger compatible starting Sept. 1

Summer program helps Greater Victoria teens sharpen writing skills

Registration for the program runs until Aug. 17

Langford cuts red tape, engages in random acts of kindness to uplift spirits

‘I Am Langford’ campaign promotes supporting local

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Most Read