Kentucky recently tested the first network traffic on its new high-capacity, digital wireless information network designed to support public safety communications and a wide range of voice, video and data services. Harris Stratex Networks, Inc. is under contract to upgrade the Kentucky Emergency Warning System (KEWS), currently an analog microwave system. Funding in the amount of $28.3 million has been allocated since the contract was awarded in February 2006.
Built in 1976, Kentucky's KEWS public safety network is one of the country's largest and most successful statewide networks for emergency services. The new digital KEWS network will provide statewide public safety communications interoperability, allowing agency personnel to communicate over a secure, highly survivable system that supports law enforcement agencies, fire fighters and other emergency service organizations. It will also enable statewide mobile data solutions for the public sector and 911 interconnectivity of land-based and cellular phone environments.
"Public safety remains our top priority and this project is key and essential for the protection of life and property for every community in the commonwealth. Upgrading the KEWS system allows us to use advanced, future-ready technologies to meet national and state homeland security objectives," said Alecia Webb-Edgington, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. "With this upgrade, KEWS will continue to be the cornerstone of our interoperability strategies by supplying a secure and redundant communication system and enable our public safety agencies to meet Gov. Fletcher's charge of protecting the commonwealth."
"Today we usher in a new era for our public safety agencies as we lay the foundation for their technology future," said Mark Rutledge, commissioner of the Commonwealth Office of Technology. "With Gov. Fletcher championing this project, collaboration between state, local and federal entities has been a success. The digital network will allow us to provide our first responders with modern technologies and continue the commonwealth's leadership position in public safety infrastructure."
The new KEWS network is based on digital microwave radio equipment capable of carrying both IP and time-division multiplexing (TDM) traffic simultaneously. This will enable easy migration of TDM traffic to IP, and the addition of new bandwidth-intensive IP-based services, including mobile data traffic and video, as the network evolves.
The new system's management capabilities will provide continuous oversight and control of the statewide microwave radio components, and monitor all environmental and site alarms, a function essential to the 24/7 operation of the emergency system. KEWS personnel will be able to manage all aspects of the network from a single location, including the following components and considerations:
- Advanced IP/Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) backbone;
- Wireless communications equipment;
- Environmental elements; and
- Contact closures.
Harris Stridex Networks engineers worked with KEWS engineers to codesign the new network. The company is also serving as systems integrator for the project, including site planning and the installation of all network facilities, equipment and technologies.
For more information, visit the KEWS upgrade Web site.