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Gainesville, Georgia links city phones with mobile radio.

Car 54, where are you? In Gainesville, Georgia, the police chief doesn't need a mobile radio set on his desk to get the answer to that question. He just picks up his telephone, dials a two-digit code assigned to the police department, and tracks down the officer he needs to speak to himself.

Gainesville's water department clerks don't need to trudge to the radio room to order service restoration, or relay cut-off orders to the city's roving utilities trucks. When a customer pays an overdue bill in person at city hall, or the utilities department answers a citizen's call about trouble with the water system, the utilities clerk simply picks up the phone and dials the two-digit utilities department code. Using the two-way radio, the clerks are then in touch with the field service people they need, and help is on its way to restore normal service.

Gainesville is moving into its second year of a simple, yet unique system using a radio interface to link 50 selected extensions of its 140 telephone desk sets with two-way mobile radio sets mounted in the city's utilities service vehicles, police cars and fire trucks.

The system was developed by Comdial dealer Cox Communications & Electronics of Gainesville, which installed the interface at the same time the city started replacing its old 1A2 telephones with ExecuTech 2000 key systems. The systems are installed behind the city's PBX, a Harris 20-20M.

The inspiration for the telephone-radio link dates back nearly 20 years when Cox first started experimenting with a way to reduce desk clutter for city employees. While recognizing that some people have to stay in constant touch with both in-field and office-based employees, Cox still wanted to get rid of the bulky two-way radio and microphone. His first effort was linking a line key with a push-to-talk handset.

The current system that evolved from his early efforts is simpler, but allows for virtually unlimited growth. As many telephones as necessary to perform city services can be programmed to recognize the code that activates the interface.

The only limiting factor to efficiency of the system is the amount of two-way radio traffic being generated by all the departments. Gainesville limits this problem by assigning all police and fire traffic to one code access that is not accessible by the utilities department, which operates with a different code. The police and fire radio channels are also different than the one used by utilities.

Cox says the beauty of the system is that it works successfully with both old tech and high tech telephones. Gainesville uses a Selectone radio interface to link both Comdial ExecuTech 2000s and the 1A2s to talk to Motorola two-way sets through the Harris 20-20M switch. The interface has no trouble recognizing either the new feature phones or the basic telephones.

Gainesville limits system access to selected managers and essential employees such as water department clerks. If employees have no need to ever talk to anyone on the mobile radio, their phones are programmed to reject the two-digit code link.

The interface itself is assigned its own trunk line. After the second ring, if no one is talking on the air at the moment the code is entered by the employee, the system is voice activated and opened. Whoever is calling from the telephone then requests the person they want. Once the requested party answers the radio call, the conversation is conducted just as if the call is being made by a dispatcher. If a conversation is already in progress on the channel when the code is punched in, the telephone caller hears a busy signal and hangs up.

Conversations on the channel are usually very business oriented once the clerks realize that their conversations using the system are not private, and open to everyone with a two-way radio. The lack of privacy found with telephone has not been missed. The cost savings on new equipment more than makes up for any inconvenience.

"The range of any similar system will be determined by the strength of the transmitter's signal. The system controls the transmitter from a telephone, but it saves tremendously on equipment. Remotes can cost anywhere from $300 to $1600, so we've given the city the equivalent of 50 remotes just by programming their phones to access their radio base station," says Pete Cox, owner of Cox Communications and Electronics.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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