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Washington College Adopts Digital Two-Way Radios for Public Safety

Washington College in Chestertown, MD has adopted a new digital two-way radio system from Motorola to replace an analog system that was cutting out on users as the campus grew. The college has distributed Mototrbo portable radios to public safety officers, as well as others on campus that need to communicate from a distance, such as the athletics department and building and grounds crew.

The police officers found that as new buildings rose at the 180-acre campus, their legacy radios were unable to penetrate the new buildings because of structural and electronic interference. While they also carried cell phones, sometimes those devices suffered signal gaps too.

"We understood that there were certain places on campus where we wouldn't have communications," said Jerry Roderick, director of public safety. "That created a safety concern for all of us because once the officer is out of radio contact, their own security is at risk as well."

Magnum Electronics, a Motorola reseller, did a proof of concept of the new digital radios, including the XPR 6500 and 6350 lines, which confirmed that they increased coverage and reliability and also extended reach beyond the borders, where off-campus activities took place.

The radios feature emergency signaling to send a help signal or text to a person or group; location tracking through a built-in GPS modem; a talk-around function that lets the user speak through a dispatcher or from unit to unit; and transmit interrupt, which allows the user to interrupt another conversation.

"Budgets are always somewhat limited, so we've learned to work Smarter," said Roderick. "The tools we've invested in, including surveillance cameras, the Mototrbo radios and an emergency broadcast system, allow us to utilize resources that help us maintain a secure environment on campus."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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