History of PSERN

Historically in King County, there were many separate public safety radio systems, maintained and operated by multiple entities, such as fire districts or cities. In the 1980’s, there were approximately 170 disparate systems and operators with differing operational standards, repair philosophies, maintenance response times, and budget cycles.

By 1990, greater cross-jurisdictional coordination needs and technology evolution led to consolidation of the 170 systems. In 1997 the King County Emergency Radio Communications System (KCERCS) became one of approximately 7 major systems. Until 2023, four sub-regional KCERCS System Operators owned and operated KCERCS:

  • Eastside Public Safety Communications Authority (EPSCA)
  • King County
  • City of Seattle
  • Valley Communications Center (Valley Com)

In 2015, King County passed Proposition No. 1, a Regular Property Tax Levy, by a two-thirds majority. This vote established funding for the PSERN Project, the primary objective of which was the transition from the KCERCS analog system to a state-of-the-art, digital radio system. The PSERN Implementation Period Interlocal Cooperation Agreement was executed in 2015 and assigned responsibility for contracting and implementation of PSERN to King County. PSERN is projected to serve the County for at least 20 years following the project’s completion.

One responsibility of the PSERN Project was the establishment of the PSERN Operator. The first step was the execution of the PSERN Operator Interlocal Cooperation Agreement in December, 2020, between 12 partners, including King County and the cities of Auburn, Bellevue, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Redmond, Renton, Seattle, and Tukwila, following. The PSERN Operator was formally incorporated in April 2021 and in December 2023, it became the sole entity responsible for the radio system following the execution and closing of a Transfer Agreement with King County.

The PSERN Operator Board of Directors held its first meeting on March 25, 2021, and the first PSERN Operator Executive Director was hired in November 2021.

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