What is PSERN?
PSERN is the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network, which will fully replace the existing King County Emergency Communications System (KCERCS) when the PSERN Project is complete in 2023. When the Project is complete, the PSERN Operator will operate the emergency radio system.
Why is a new Operator being created?
The current emergency radio system owners – City of Seattle, ValleyCom Cities, EPSCA Cities, and King County – agree that emergency radio communications are a regional service and centralization is needed. To that end, they determined that the best model is to operate and own PSERN under a new nonprofit entity, the PSERN Operator.
What emergency radio system have King County agencies been using prior to PSERN?
The King County Emergency Communications System (KCERCS) was created in the late 1990s and is provided by four separate radio operators who jointly maintain the system, separately maintaining the equipment and managing the staff.
What radio technology does the PSERN system use?
PSERN is a simulcast 800MHz trunked radio system, utilizing P25 Phase II digital technology.
Why does King County need a whole new system rather than just replacing a few parts?
A whole new emergency radio system is needed because the current network is over 25 years old and manufacturer support for equipment is no-longer available.
How much does PSERN cost and how is it funded?
The PSERN Project budget is $293M, which pays for just under 40 new radio sites, digital infrastructure, replacement of over 18,000 radios, staffing, and associated administrative expenses, including start-up costs for the new PSERN Operator. The cost is paid for by a levy that was approved by nearly two-thirds of King County voters in April 2015. The levy is assessed to property owners at a millage rate of $0.07/$1000 of assessed value for 9 years from 2016 – 2024.
Is PSERN safe?
Yes, PSERN uses radio technology that has been proven to be safe and reliable. The system has been developed to meet the national safety limits for radiofrequency (RF) energy that have been adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Data has shown that there is no reason to believe that a radio site could constitute a health hazard to nearby residents. Many telecommunications applications make use of RF energy, including television broadcasting, cellphones, and other emergency radio networks throughout the United States. According to the FCC, studies have shown that environmental levels of RF energy routinely encountered by the general public are typically far below the levels that could affect health.
Why can’t first responders use their cellphones instead of radios?
Cellphones inherently lack the reliability that first responders need during emergencies. Most cellphone frequencies are shared with the general public and have a tendency to become bogged down by the volume of calls occurring during major emergencies. PSERN radio channels are dedicated to first responder usage. Additionally, PSERN will provide coverage in areas that cellphones currently do not.