Words of Wisdom


by The Sage



Downsville: I can't swear it was because of that "rookie" TV commercial bro-haha, but Kellogg Co. reported their earnings declined 84% in the fourth fiscal quarter. They claim it was caused by weak currencies in Asia, and swear they'll meet their annual 10% growth goal. Yea, well lay off the public safety dispatchers and you might be right!

Dear Sage,
My agency is getting ready to put together a proposal for bids on a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system. But what's the best way to find out what companies to send it to?
The CAD Man

Dear Man,
Excellent question! But first, did you know that you can actually get companies to write the RFP for you? Yup, they'd be happy to spec the whole thing. On the other hand, guess which company will be the only one that can fill the specs? Oh, the list. Check out the February issue of RadioResource magazine, the only publication to actually try compiling a list of CAD vendors. It's an excellent start. On the other hand, guess what big-time company is completely missing? PRC.

Dear Sage,
What do you think was the news story of 1997?
D. Rather

Dear D.,
You're asking me? Well, the rag you're reading should know best. I vote for the FCC and all the action they took on 911, digital TV and the UHF television band. Yea, I know. It was all regulatory, all quiet and difficult to read, but it probably made more impact on more public safety dispatchers than we comprehend right now. Others: Northampton County gets 911, Motorola and Ericsson continue to face off over 800 MHz contracts, the meteoric rise of 311, and the Kellogg TV ad. Whew!

Whoa!: Ha! I was one of many that read in the last May-June issue of 911 Magazine about what a lovely place the Yosemite National Park dispatchers have. Well, a tourist just returned from a winter-time visit there and reports that, on warm evenings, they open the back door of the comm center to let the breezes blow in-from the public restrooms! They're just 10 feet away. With all that scenery, could we not find them a better location? Chee!

Dear Sage,
Who are you talking to, to get some of the information you print here?
No Source

Dear No,
Hey, like any good columnist, I have my sources, hidden deep within the structure of the proletariat government. Occasionally, TV gives me a clue. Did you get a look at the Secret Service Joint Operations Center on ABC's Behind the Scenes program with Joan Lunden? It is "so secret" that she couldn't tell her viewers where it was. (I hear it's below the Oval Office.) On the other hand, if you watched the program frame by frame-like I did, you could decipher a video screen clearly showing it was Motorola's "Centracom Elite Dispatch" system, presumably controlling the Secret Service's encrypted radio system, with channel designations "Charlie" and "Tango." Ha, not so secret anymore.

Attention: Dispatchers in Arlington (Mass.)-scannerists in your town say they heard an officer dispatched to a car blocking a driveway. The officer arrived, asked for a "forty-four" (turn off the repeater), and then radioed the dispatcher, "Could you call 555-1234 and tell my wife her car is blocking a driveway?" Oops! Yea, the car was moved and the caller was none the wiser. My advice: even your mobile-only frequency isn't safe from scanning.

Dear Sage,
Someone told me that you can have a trunked radio on any frequency band. If this is true, why are all the new ones on 800 MHz?

Dear T.,
Your source is correct-any band has the potential for trunking. It's just that you need a handful of frequency pairs, with some separation between transmit and receive. Just so happens the 800 MHz band was mapped out just for that purpose. The rest of the spectrum is such a jumble of assignments that finding enough pairs is almost impossible. On the other hand, South Australia is going trunked soon in the 400 MHz band with a Motorola SmartZone system. Hey, they're an island that doesn't interfere with anyone, so they can carve up the airwaves any way they want.

Dear Sage,
I hear that APCO is inviting a very special person to this year's conference in Albuquerque to be the keynote speaker. Am I right?

Dear Tony,
I hear that Tony Hillerman will be no where in sight, even though he lives just up the road from the convention center. Instead, APCO has invited one of the FCC commissioners who lives in New Mexico to speak.

Memo: To the president of a big CAD software firm-remember that telephone conversation you had with a police chief last fall? It's taken months for word to reach me that you really pissed the chief off! There's nothing wrong with your system, but the chief is now ready to kick your butt into the street. The chief attended the IACP conference later, hooked up with another firm and is ready to spend-gulp!-almost $1 million on another system. My usual advice of kiss-and-make-up won't work here. You're out.

Lastly: Boy was I wrong about AMR and Florida! Turns out they just closed a deal in Argentina! I was just a few thousand miles off!

More The Sage