Citizen David Alkire Smith's Questions on Deployment and Maintainability of the Monroe County 800 MHz Motorola Radio System

Preface: My concern is that the 800 MHz Motorola system appears to have problems meeting user and public expectations based on the promises given by staff and some Commissioners when the system was built without competitive bidding.  For example to get a simple task such as replacing a failed tower, mounted amplifier should not take more than several hours to detect and replace.  The citizens of the City of Monroe have had inadequate police radio coverage for weeks or months while the County Board of Commissioners dicker over a course of action.  It is the opinion of the writer that building the 800 MHz radio systems without competitive bidding and independent technical oversight was an irresponsible action by the county.  Here citizens, firemen and public safety officers have their lives and those of the citizens they protect apparently put at risk by a failure prone system and one lacking compliance with coverage requirements.

I asked a number of questions of the County Commissioners last Tuesday August 9, 2005.  None were answered and it was suggested that I submit them in writing.  I hereby am submitting the questions in writing and expect the questions to be answered or a good reason why the question cannot be answered given.  The answers give me will be made available to any other person having similar questions to save duplicate effort on the part of the county.  Individual commissioners contacted me after the meeting and some of them in addition to Dale Zorn wish to know the answers as well.  This, citizens questions are of general interest.  The questions have been couched in non-technical language and should be easy to answer because only simple facts are sought.

      (1) What are the radio engineering or allied technical qualifications of Lt. Thompson who is said to be in charge of the project’s completion?  If his qualifications are strictly administrative, whom does he rely on for technical advice on radio engineering matters?

      (2) Two persons are said to work with Lt. Thompson on this project.  Who are they and what are their radio engineering or allied technical qualifications?  If their qualifications are strictly administrative, whom do they rely on for technical advice on radio engineering matters?

     (3) What provision is provided to alarm a failed tower mounted 800 MHz amplifiers to central Dispatch?

     (4)   If no provision is provided to alarm a failure condition of an 800 MHZ tower top amplifier what provision exists to test at a site for a failed amplifier based on system user complaints?

   (5)   How long does it take to replace a failed tower top 800 MHz amplifiers if one is suspected.

   (6)   Is there a capability by any entity in Monroe County to do complete diagnostic and repair work on the 800 MHz system including stocking of needed spares such as tower top amplifiers and other critical components?

    (7)   A repair contractor normally furnishes their own working tools such as spectrum analyzers, test sets, network analyzers, etc.  Who are the repairpersons or commercial entity and do they have all needed test equipment and spares to maintain the system?  Are they providing their own equipment?

   (8)  If it is lawful to simulcast paging on the present paging frequency from both the Monroe Dispatch location and Ida tower, is this capability now functional and if not why not?

    (9) Are scarce and valuable frequencies such as the county UHF frequencies and City UHF repeater repair remaining available?  If not have they be traded, bartered, or exchanged in any way and if they are salable, or sold, who gets the proceeds?

Click Images for Larger View

Figure 1.  A fragile network as planned.  Is this how it is deployed.  The red X indicates a point of failure that would take portions of the system out of service.  Is this how it was built?

Figure 2.  A professional radio engineer’s design for a robust system presented during the design stages.  This was dismissed as impractical given the superior expertise of Motorola engineers.  However, it would have functioned if any one-microwave link failed and provided reasonable service in the event of a tower loss.  Note this design addresses the weak signal problem in downtown Monroe as well as Bedford township problems failure.  Why was this design not built as suggested?

Unanswered Security Issues

On April 3, 4005, Argent Logan of the Michigan State police observed me taking photos of what she believed to be critical railroad infrastructure.  She noted my license plate and dispatched two officers to our home to ask what I was doing.  I explained that I considered the photos attached here to be the fiber optic cable from central dispatch to the Dunbar Road tower site.  This was at the intersection of Dunbar road and Laplaisance Bay Road where the cable makes an aerial crossing of two trunk line railroads.  The Officers were provided with a CD-ROM disk of my entire file on the project and asked to send it to higher headquarters, as a citizen was concerned about the security of the system.  Commissioner Zorn was notified before I took the photos from public rights of way in case questions should arise.  A copy of the disk was also provided to County Administrator Charles Londo. 

Two photos of the suspected cable crossing are appended as a part of this request. 

A Essential Cable Crossing Guarded with a Pasteboard Sign?


A Essential Cable Railroad Crossing?

Larger Image

The final questions are:

(10) Why was the robust design not built as suggested or a similar robust design built?

(11) If these photos are indeed the cable to the Dunbar site, why has action not been initiated to replace it with a microwave link or is it not the link cable?

Respectfully Yours

David Alkire Smith



The Monroe Evening News

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