In the year 2000, San Francisco police, fire, and other public safety agencies got a brand spanking new communications system. 14 years later, they're all still using that same ancient system, and they don't expect to replace it for four more years.
According to San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management, SF's 7,500 public safety radios are still using an analog 800 MHz Public Safety Land Mobile Radio System that, they say, "uses proprietary analog technology that has now reached end of life, with no replacement parts available." That's right—when one of those public safety radios breaks, there's apparently no way to fix it.
Last month, DEM says, they finally got approval and funding to replace the aging system used by their unit, as well as by SFPD, SFFD, the SF Sheriff's department, the SFMTA's Parking and Traffic units, and Recreation and Park.
The new radios, DEM says, will do such space-age things as offer "critical push-to-talk communications that connects instantly with the 9-1-1 dispatch center for dispatch to emergencies, or calling for backup from other officers in the field" and "will be interoperable across the Bay Area, so when a San Francisco police officer goes over to Oakland, her radio will still work." They will also "provide better coverage, like underground in BART stations, as well as down to the Airport."
Which seems to suggest that our current system does none of these things! That's certainly comforting. Guess we should just hope that no public safety officers need those abilities for the next four years, as the DEM says that they estimate that a full system replacement will not be complete until mid-2018. Until then, there's always this.