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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 — Houston, TX

RUPD launches new radio system

By Michelle Tran     9/17/14 5:22pm

The Rice University Police Department launched a new digital two-way radio communications system, marking the end of an extensive two-year collaborative endeavor between RUPD, Facilities Engineering and Planning and Rice IT. According to RUPD Chief Johnny Whitehead, the changes seek to improve communication across campus and with Houston’s Police and Fire Departments.

Before the switch, which occurred on Sept. 9, the same radio communications system had been implemented for more than 15 years and presented multiple challenges for RUPD, according to Whitehead.

“We had been experiencing some issues with scratchy transmissions and dead spots on campus,” Whitehead said. “[The old system] presented a safety issue to our officers.”

According to Whitehead, the switch was also prompted by the City of Houston’s Police Department’s radio communications upgrade that went live last October.

“In the past, we had communications with [HPD], but when they went to their new radio system, we lost the ability to communicate with them,” Whitehead said.

The findings of a 2012 campus-wide radio study presented two options: building a new radio infrastructure on campus or going to a digital system. RUPD decided to join the city’s radio system, which was already in place, rather than begin an independent project.

“The radio project team met with all the radio users on campus including FE&P, Athletics, Housing and Dining, and Transportation to identify their needs,” Whitehead said. “There was a consensus that only the public safety agencies, RUPD, Rice [Emergency Medical Services] and Environmental Health and Safety, should go to the new digital radios.”

According to Deigaard, the new system also communication with on-campus departments as well as with off-campus public safety agencies such as the Houston Police and Fire Departments and the University of Texas Police in the Texas Medical Center.

“It used to be that dispatch could only listen to one radio channel,” Deigaard said. “[Rice] is not a little stand-alone island anymore. We are now part of a large collective.”

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