On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Quad-City area public safety agencies will implement the final pieces of an interoperable, digital public safety radio system.

This change to encrypted radio means that scanners and other devices previously used to listen to public safety radio will no longer be compatible after Nov. 9, the release says.

The QC P-25 Radio System provides a new communications platform for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services agencies in Scott County and Rock Island County, according to a news release from David Donovan of the Scott Emergency Communications Center and Scott County Emergency Management Agency.

The QC P-25 System, as the name suggests, is fully compliant with Project 25 interoperability
standards developed by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO). The new communications system ensures that local agencies can easily communicate across all disciplines in both counties. The new system can easily interface with other digital systems, including the Iowa State Interoperable Communications System (ISICS) and Starcom21, the Illinois State Radio System, the release says.

The Quad City system is also part of the larger Shared Area Radio Agreement (SARA) system, a
coalition of networked radio systems in Iowa. SARA Counties in Iowa include Dubuque, Johnson,
Linn, Buchanan, Blackhawk, Tama, Story, Polk, Mahaska, Washington, Iowa, Benton, Poweshiek,
Marshall and Cedar.

In coordination with Quad City area law enforcement, radio encryption for all law enforcement and emergency medical radio transmissions will go into effect Nov. 9.

“Reliable communications are the backbone of public safety operations and are key to mission success. The ability for first responders to securely communicate and coordinate efforts across departments during routine and emergency operations is a key factor in saving lives and protecting property,” said Dave Donovan, director of the Scott Emergency Communications Center and the Scott County Emergency Management Agency. “By moving to the new communications system and transitioning to radio encryption, this not only protects community members personal information, but it enhances operational security for QC first responders.”

As the U. S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) states, the biggest emphasis for encryption is on privacy. Encryption allows safeguards for protected health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII) that is broadcast over radios to responders. Encryption also allows for the safeguarding of FBI Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) data, to better comply with the FBI security standards.

The new radio system also enhances public safety in the Quad Cities by introducing features that
automate or simplify dispatching tasks, like paging of volunteer fire agencies and combining or linking channels together for joint operations and mutual aid between agencies. Dispatchers (or
telecommunicators) soon will have new tools that will allow them to better adapt and respond to
complicated public safety responses, joint agency operations and multi-jurisdictional situations, the release says.

Questions regarding the new system may be directed to the Scott Emergency Communications
Center, 563-484-3000, or the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office, 309-794-1230.