One Network to Run Them All

When the City of Richardson invested in a fiber optic network nearly 15 years ago, it charted a course to create an infrastructure that would support all phases of the City’s technology needs, including mission critical public safety systems. Today the City’s vision places it within a group of pioneers who are approaching communications investments differently and realizing significant cost and operational efficiencies.

“Airbus DS Communications was a breath of fresh air, working with us to pick the best option at the best price,” said Steve Graves, CIO of Richardson. “To me, having one network for all of our systems is a win-win-win all the way through—for the city, for our residents and for our partners.”

Richardson’s VESTA® 9-1-1 Solution
Completed implementation in 2014
NG9-1-1® with robust features
250,000 911 calls annually, 10 positions

Richardson’s VESTA™ Radio Solution
Completed implementation in 2012
P25 open, standards compliant
3,500 Users on the system

Like many cities and counties across the country, Richardson had been operating its 9-1-1 call-taking land mobile radio (LMR) systems on separate networks. This is the classic approach to mission critical communications that advocates the use of dedicated networks for each public safety application—one for 9-1-1 and another for LMR. This method also maintains that public safety networks must be kept separate from all non-critical communications networks and was thought to be the only way to achieve the level of reliability required of public safety networks.

Richardson’s decision more than a decade ago to invest in a single IP network capable of supporting all its communications applications, including public safety, has provided cost savings that continue to multiply to this day. For example, rather than building multiple networks for each public safety communication system, leveraging a single network has saved the City time, money and resources.

Richardson selected Airbus DS Communications’ VESTA® 9-1-1 and VESTA™ Radio solutions for their robust features and functionality and their ability to adapt to its IP network. Because the VESTA 9-1-1 and VESTA Radio solutions are built on open standards-compliant technology, Richardson was able to build the right systems at the right price. This meant they were able to select components to fit the city’s unique needs instead of being locked into proprietary components often mandated by other manufactures. Importantly, the city realized significant cost and operational efficiencies by leveraging its existing network infrastructure rather than building separate public safety networks for each system.

Richardson’s IP network includes more than 125 network switches, which cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 each. Multiple networks would increase costs significantly as they would require duplicate switches, routers, and other components. Adding to the cost of the components would be the ongoing maintenance costs and other fees that would be directly proportional to the number of networks.

Having a single communications backbone also brings efficiencies and benefits beyond just cost savings. Richardson’s technology staff is able to focus on a single network, which provides them the time and resources to make gains and improvements. For instance, the radio frequency experts are able to focus on improving signal coverage and quality instead of merely maintaining a separate network. Having the entire IT staff work on one system also breaks down traditional silos, improving workflow and increasing operational efficiency and security.

The key to realizing the benefits of a single network are systems built on open standards—ones that can easily adapt, scale, and meet a City’s evolving needs. This includes public safety communications systems, whether it’s LMR or 9-1-1—or in Richardson’s case, both. This ensures cities, counties, and municipalities have the mission critical communications systems and connectivity needed to support their first responders and emergency call takers during routine operations or critical emergencies.

For more information on the City of Richardson’s IP network, click here