In the world of communications, diversity means increased reliability. The city of Asheville uses a number of telecommunication tools to ensure public safety communications are in line with making Asheville the safest city in America when compared to cities of similar size.
Information about the city’s public safety delivery systems is highly sensitive due to its nature as a critical public safety asset. Generally, however, the city’s telecommunication assets can be classified in three ways:
Wireless infrastructure: The City owns and operates its own infrastructure as well as a number of telecommunication sites. Ownership ensures radio and other wireless transmissions have a dedicated and safe pathway, ensuring the fastest and safest possible relay of information.
Fiber optic infrastructure: Fiber optic infrastructure is another tool that relays information extremely fast, only the information passes along a wire as opposed to through the air.
Mobile field units: The City uses commercial service to outfit patrol cars, fire trucks, and non-public safety field units with data services. The City also provisions its own public safety radio units, which have a higher degree of reliability and are not susceptible to common mobile telephone service issues such as dropped calls, “dead zones,” or access overload during catastrophic events.
A good example of a public safety delivery system would be the fire station alerting systems. New telecommunications technology allowed these alerting systems to improve cardiac survival rate from 7% to 24%; Asheville Fire Department’s success in confining a fire to the room in which it started increased from 24% to 90%.
Field radio systems are another example of a public safety delivery system, as they are critical communication assets during a crisis. It is important, especially during emergencies, that different agencies are able to communicate. The City partners with Buncombe County and state agencies to ensure communications between all agencies are seamless in times of need.
One solid step in that direction occurred in 2009 when the Asheville Police Department’s communication unit moved into a new combined communications facility in the Buncombe County Emergency Services Center. The move increased interagency communication and cooperation and decreased response times to critical incidents.