Wilton emergency radio project needs another $89,000

The cell tower off Deer Run Road in Wilton.

The cell tower off Deer Run Road in Wilton.

Hearst File Photo

WILTON — The selectmen unanimously approved allocating another $89,000 to cover three new components of the long-anticipated emergency radio project.

Police Capt. Thomas Conlan requested the money come from the $240,000 contingency the selectmen approved for the $4.08 million project earlier this year. The $89,000 will cover adding encryption capabilities for the new radio server, 25 portable radios for public works and four uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) to be placed around town.

Conlan, who has headed the project, said encrypting the new radio server is important so that sensitive information remains private and is shared only with first responders in town.

"Encryption, which means that you can transmit over the radio and the general public, or those outside, couldn't hear it unless they had the encryption key," Conlan told the selectmen, adding most police radios use this feature. "It's very helpful if you have a domestic incident or a critical incident where you don't want other people hearing it, so it's important that it's encrypted."

The Wilton Fire Department requested some of their radios include the encryption feature. 

"That's for the capability to talk amongst each other, whether it be a critical incident they might be involved in, or a medical issue on a call where they might have to discuss some type of HIPAA-protected information," Conlan said. "Westport just had their radios upgrades and its one of the things they recommended to the Wilton guys to do. They found it very useful."

The cost to upgrade the fire department radios with encryption capabilities is $25,000.

The emergency communication service will be shared among the police, fire department and public works in town. Conlan said he considered providing public works with 22 portable radios to wear on-person, but the town will instead put 15 "portable radios" into the most used public works vehicles and get another 10 portable radios. Those radios are also included in the new allocation.

The $89,000 also includes the four uninterrupted power supplies that were installed at three cell towers in Wilton, as well as the communication center at police headquarters.

"What that does is, if power should go out or if there is a power glitch, there is a 10 or 20 minute backup before the generator would kick on where the UPS would stay running and we wouldn't lose connectivity at all," Conlan said. The current radios use UPS, but the current technology is old and at the end of its life span. "That was one of the things that was overlooked that we'll need to add to this project."

Conlan will now coordinate with the project's vendor Motorola to enact the changes.