Shire to revisit radio upgrade

The Shire of Collie voted against upgrading to a new high-band radio system across all shire vehicles and buildings at the latest council meeting. 

The cost of the upgrade was $236,176, with half of the expense coming from a grant from the federal government under the Smart Cities and Suburbs program. 

The shire’s contribution would be $30,000 per year over the next four years.

Director of Development Services Andrew Dover said during the meeting the new digital system was marginally better than the analogue system, as the current one was about 15 years old and requires an upgrade in the future as replacement parts were no longer being made. 

Councillors expressed concern over the cost to rate payers if the new system was only slightly better.

Mr Dover said the new system would be a valuable asset to rate payers in emergencies and the shire has the means to pay for the new system now, instead of upgrading a few years down the track. 

He said other benefits to the new system included extending radio coverage, removing black spots and connection to the WA Emergency Radio Network.

The plan included upgrading 36 shire vehicles, along with five new mobile suitcase radios which can be moved from vehicle to vehicle in times of emergency.

The shire were already considering purchasing a separate GPS system for their vehicles, which would no longer be necessary with the radio system upgrade.

The new GPS tracking system would allow more coverage than using a mobile phone connection to only one cell tower, whereas the new radio system would connect to two towers. 

Councillors had concern about the system becoming outdated quickly, yet Mr Dover said the interface of the handset wouldn’t need updating for 20 years but the software would.  

The motion was lost seven to three with councillors Scoffern, Woods and King voting for the plan.

The issue has been referred back to the planning committee and it will be discussed at the March 27 council meeting.