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Muskegon County Central Dispatch makes successful switch to digital

The move from an old analog dispatch system to a new digital 800 MHz system took place without issues early Tuesday morning in Muskegon County.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — Muskegon County Central Dispatch has successfully gone digital. The move from an analog dispatch system to the new digital 800 MHz system took place without issues early Tuesday morning.

The approximately $30 million project started with planning back in 2016. In May 2019, Muskegon County voters approved an increase in the monthly 911 surcharge that will remain in place until 2032. The new surcharge rate per line is $2.75. 

Currently 850 of the Motorola portable units are in service. Those radios have been distributed to every police and fire department in the county and also to ambulance providers. 

Over the next six months, fixed dash mount radios will be placed in every ambulance, fire truck and police cruiser in the county. 

"We're very thankful to be on the air today," said Muskegon County Central Dispatch Executive Director Jason Wolford. "The public relies on us 24/7 to get it right every time. This radio system will help us to do that."

The digital dispatch system improves the strength, reliability and clarity of communications for public safety departments across the county.

The project included erecting four new radio towers strategically placed around Muskegon County. 

"They're all up and running today," said Wolford. "We just got our testing back from Motorola and we're at about a 99% coverage rate in the county."

"It's a big day for us in Muskegon County," said Muskegon Charter Township Fire Chief David Glotzbach. "It's been a long time coming."

Glotzbach says the new portable radios have larger dials and knobs so firefighters can use them with ease while wearing gloves. That alone is a safety improvement over the analog radios. 

Glotzbach says the big benefit of the digital system will be the ability for multiple agencies in the county to communicate information on dedicated channels. 

"It will literally work across the entire county seamlessly and clear," said Glotzbach. "It's just an awesome upgrade. It's going to improve our citizens' safety and honestly all of our responders' safety at the same time."

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