Incident management requires dependable communications capabilities; response actions, resource allocation and command and control functions rely on the ability to communicate effectively. For many years, Western Maryland counties have grappled with interoperability issues exacerbated by geographic and technological challenges. WAGIN was designed and developed to resolve interoperability issues by providing a communications platform that provides disparate equipment and systems the ability to talk to one another utilizing an IPICS (Internet Protocol Interoperability and Collaboration System) solution. The following press release provides more information describing the WAGIN concept.

Three Maryland Counties and State of Maryland Sign ARINC to Build Public Safety Interoperable Communications Network

October 28, 2009
Annapolis, Maryland—Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties, in partnership with the State of Maryland, have announced plans to build a 3-county radio interoperability network connecting their public safety land mobile radio systems together, and linking them with the radio systems of three State agencies.

Local and State authorities have awarded a federally-funded contract to ARINC Incorporated to deploy the new 3-county system, known as WAGIN (Washington-Allegany-Garrett Interoperable Network). A project kickoff was held October 1, 2009, and the system is expected to be operational as early as January 2010.

“Several serious events, including the recent helicopter crash on Route 70, have shown that interoperable communications are imperative, particularly in rural areas where we often rely on each other for mutual aid,” stated Kevin Lewis, a Director in the Division of Emergency Services, Washington County, who heads the WAGIN Operations Committee. “Up to now, we’ve had independent systems that hindered coordination among agencies. This project will connect the systems, providing open communications.”

“ARINC’s proposal took into account the most pressing needs we have in Western Maryland for coordination in public safety,” stated Brad Frantz, Director, Garrett County Public Safety & Emergency Management, and a member of the WAGIN team. “With the many different types of radio systems now in use throughout the region, a seamless communications solution will be a great improvement.”

“Recognizing that State and Local budgets are tight, we coordinated efforts to obtain funding for the project under a U.S. Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Grant. This maximizes the value to the Counties while minimizing our capital investment,” stated Richard DeVore, Chief, Allegany County Department of Public Safety/Emergency Management Division, also a member of the WAGIN team.
The WAGIN network will connect to the current radio systems of the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Maryland State Police. It will also provide access to all radios of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency operations center, located near Reisterstown.

“This network will provide robust radio communications and backup dispatch between these counties and their local and State agencies. It is a great example of multi-jurisdictional cooperation, and it will create a whole new level of emergency responsiveness through improved interoperable communications,” said Craig Fetzer, Chief of Communications for the Maryland State Highway Administration. Fetzer is the interim Chair for WAGIN and Project Manager for the deployment. “In addition to being a great partnership between the State and local governments,
and an effective use of Grant funds, this open standards based system is consistent with the Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan.”

“ARINC has already started the network deployment with site surveys, and we are now staging the system in preparation for implementation,” stated Marvin Ingram, Director, ARINC Public Safety Solutions. “Since 2005 we have delivered several similar networks that provide radio interoperability among multiple jurisdictions in Massachusetts, Florida, and Washington State.”

ARINC is a national leader in designing interoperable land mobile radio networks that utilize existing radio systems. The WAGIN system will be built using IPICSTM technology from Cisco. It will accommodate physical radio connections, personal computers, IP Phone users, and PSTN connections.
Procurement of equipment, staging, implementation, and testing are expected to take about two months. The WAGIN network is expected to be operational by January, and ARINC will provide training for county and state agencies who will use the network.

ARINC Incorporated, a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group, provides communications, engineering and integration solutions for commercial, defense and government customers worldwide. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland with regional headquarters in London and Singapore, ARINC is ISO 9001:2008 certified.

Release: 09-111
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