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Home arrow RAC Minutes arrow RAC Minutes November 15, 2007
RAC Minutes November 15, 2007 PDF Print
SE MN Regional Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes

Thursday, November 15th, 2007
1:00 – 3:00 pm
Olmsted County Government Center
151 4 St SE
Rochester, MN
  1. Meeting was called to order by Scott McNurlin.

    In Attendance:
    Committee Members Others In Attendance
    • Scott McNurlin, Goodhue County
    • Barb Brewington, Rice/Steele PSAP
    • Joel Hansen, Olmsted County
    • Dean Albers, Goodhue County
    • Terry Waletzki, Olmsted County
    • Scott Yeiter, Houston County
    • Daryl Jensen / Fillmore County
    • Rick Eggert, Dodge County
    • Gary Thompson, Dodge County
    • Terese Amazi, Mower County
    • Dave Brand, Winona County
    • Rodney Bartsch, Wabasha County
    • Steve Borchardt, Olmsted County
    • Mike Papke, City of Winona
    • Dave Pieczynski, Motorola
    • Sid Sanocki, Ancom Communications
    • Lee Smith, Whitewater Wireless
    • Ed Hazelwood, Elert & Associates
    • Shari Schmitz, Motorola
    • Neale Caflisch, Ancom Communications
    • Gene Mrozek, Whitewater Wireless
    • Randy Slinger, MN State Patrol
    • Tom Hannon
    • Andy Terry, Short-Elliott-Hendrickson
  2. Approval of Agenda:
    • Deletion: Item #4 - Tour of Olmsted Co Mobile Van -Dave Thomson not available today, will schedule that for another meeting.
    Motion by Albers to approve agenda with deletion, seconded by Jensen, motion carried.
  3. Approval of Minutes from October 18, 2007
    Motion by Yeiter to approve minutes, seconded by Bartsch, motion carried.
  4. Radio System Presentation / Discussion by Dave Pieczynski, Motorola
    • Scott McNurlin introduced Sherry Schmitz, Motorola Account Manager for the Metro Area and SE Minnesota.
    • Sherry explained that Wabasha, Winona, Houston and Fillmore Counties had asked Motorola to do apples to apples comparison of VHF coverage versus 800 MHz coverage. This presentation was given to those counties prior to this meeting, but they would use the same Power Point presentation today.
    • Sherry introduced Dave Pieczynski, a sales team leader for Motorola’s Minnesota engineers.
    • Dave stated that the Power Point presentation was developed by Dan Norr. He is the one who put together the coverage maps. Dave will use this presentation to help us understand the difference between VHF and 800.
    • Dan took the existing & proposed State of MN 800 MHz tower sites in Wabasha, Winona, Houston and Fillmore counties and completed a coverage map using exactly the same parameters to determine what the coverage differences were between the two technologies, if the equipment were placed at the same height as the 800 equipment.
    • There are 4 maps of the area.
      • Mobile coverage on VHF
      • Mobile coverage on 800 MHz
      • Portable coverage on VHF
      • Portable coverage on 800 MHz
    • Maps were developed utilizing the exact same height of the equipment on exactly the same towers that the State of MN is putting 800 MHz on in these four counties. It includes towers that have already been erected and the new proposed sites that the State of MN has added to their maps.
    • Differences between VHF and 800 MHz
      • VHF
        • Each user is dedicated to one particular frequency for transmit and receive.
        • One user can tx or rx at a time
        • VHF is not as organized as 800 MHz
        • High probability of interference
        • Would need to do a building penetration requirement vs. interference analysis
        • VHF talks out further
        • Difficult to design, you have to dedicate particular exact filters. Expensive and it adds more loss to the system.
        • You have to accommodate for every VHF frequency out there to reduce interference.
        • In extremely forested areas or valleys, VHF does have an edge.
        • When you get into building penetration, taking on a portable inside of a structure - 800 MHz has the advantage. That’s the tradeoff.
      • 800 MHz
        • All users sit on one control channel that assigns out dynamic channels throughout the system.
        • The dynamic channels are transparent to the end users.
        • You can go from one site to the next without worrying about what channel you are on.
        • Can accommodate large number of end users – if one talk group is not being utilized by one group, it can be utilized by another easily.
        • Can be permanently set up for logical discipline talk group assignments (i.e.: patch to MINSEF).
        • Has an emergency alarm.
        • Has caller ID.
        • Has multi-group call.
        • Can have a private conversation.
        • More flexibility for interoperability.
    • Multicast vs. Simulcast.
      • MULTI-CAST
        • Uses a handful of towers that are all stand alone towers.
        • For such a large area, it is going to take multiple tower sites (exact number unknown).
        • Broadcasts off their set of frequencies.
        • Each tower site requires a whole new set of frequencies.
        • There are a limited number of frequencies available for use.
        • Utilizes sites with the same frequencies.
        • Timing is calculated by how far apart the towers are and how you launch out the signal on that frequency so you don’t get interference.
        • 3 to 8 tower sites are typical with simulcast.
    • Other Information
      • We looked at the sites that are currently in the states plan. We should take a look at other possible locations, such as where your current towers are right now locally.
      • The state is allowing VHF equipment to be installed on the state’s 800 MHz towers, Mower Co just did it.
      • If these agencies go with VHF, they would have to be patched into an 800 MHz talk group for interoperability.
      • Patches can be set up by dispatchers on the fly OR for MINSEF, you can set it up as a permanent patch.
      • Fillmore Co was told their console is 800 MHz capable. They have a Gold Elite Console, you would have to add another link that ties into the ARMER system, but the console does allow you to set up those patches we are talking about.
      • If Winona Co goes with VHF, we were told we could use the 800 MHz controller in Rochester. Would that be a request that would need to be taken to the SE MN RAC or the State Radio Board?
      • There are several avenues to take this request to the State Radio Board; one avenue would be through the SE MN RAC with a recommendation to the State Board.
      • On VHF you absolutely have to have separation between RF and TX on that antenna.
      • Also need to consider if VHF frequencies will be available – they are extremely difficult to obtain in SE MN.
      • There is no difference in coverage on VHF analog vs. VHF digital. Your RF sites have to be closer together.
      • Dave Pagel is the frequency coordinator in MN.
      • 700 MHz due to be auctioned in January (for data).
      • Auction is for 12 MHz chunk of it for nationwide data system.
      • Mower Co had to go 800 for data, they were not allowed to go 700.
      • There is a statewide 700 MHz plan. Separate from ARMERS 800 MHz, uses completely different infrastructure. Terese Amazi was told it is in the FCC’s “in basket” and that’s where it will stay. Supposed to be decided this month whether it is going to stay where it’s at or be auctioned off.
      • The state tower placement was originally designed for 95% coverage outside the car, not inside the car. Hearing lately that NO, it is 95% coverage for mobiles.
      • Originally in 2001, discussion stated the design did have 95% mobile (in-vehicle) coverage - it didn’t talk to portable coverage. It was estimated that 80-85% portable coverage would be attained off that same design criteria. The idea was to try to push portable coverage to major population areas. When the state evaluated that, we were looking at a statewide reliability map. The Arrowhead and border areas, rough terrain had slightly less than 95% coverage. Back then we were looking at probability, stats, made some assumptions – it was basically a budgetary estimate and people took that as a stake of the map. In 2005 when DPS got involved, people looked at the original plan and said “we better make sure what we’re asking for here.” At that time the State hired a consultant to do a business analysis and needs assessment for financial planning, and the State was tasked to come out and talk to local units of government, discuss the states philosophy and the wide area terrain issues. From those discussions it was decided to try to develop partnerships in an effort to obtain 95% portable coverage, which was the expectation of the local governments. Upwards of another 30-50 sites would need to be installed to obtain 95% portable coverage. A detailed evaluation would need to be done, so we would know what kind of improvement that would bring to these local counties.
      • Assuming that we are going to have a transitional area, it doesn’t matter if it’s the border between IA/MN - or the border between Olmsted/Winona. If a county goes VHF so they can talk to IA or WI, we will still need interoperability. If we create 800 MHz robustly enough on a state level, then we can push that transitional area out of the state. Is their receptivity to make the system efficiently robust to encourage our more questionable areas to come on board?
      • Chasing that transitional point - it’s a point you’ll never catch.
      • Tom Hannon: If you try to do it ad hoc, you are going to chase it forever and not catch it. You need to look at what the relationships are between all of your users. State Radio Board has an ability to make changes. State Radio Board is changing on a meeting by meeting basis. Their Goals/Objectives have changed. Now they are looking at what we really need to do to build the interoperability level. How do we pull it all together?
      • Discussion ended, as time was running out and will be put on a future agenda for further discussion.
  5. Old Business
    Planning Committee
    • Scott McNurlin suggested hearing from Terry Waletzki before he needed to leave the meeting. He represented the RAC at the Emergency Management Meeting that was held in Albert Lea on November 9th.
    • Terry:
      • The $65,000 grant’s fiscal agent is Olmsted County. It is a little less than $65,000 as Olmsted is requiring a 3% fiscal agent fee.
      • GRANT ONE is in the amount of $375,000. It is the 2006 Homeland Security Emergency Management Grant.
        • This is the amount that the state had put into planning and equipment.
        • There is still $100,000 of that money allocated toward planning – but there is not a lot of consensus that this money should go toward planning. They want to pull that money out of planning and use it for emergency management items.
        • The rest is already committed to radio subscriber equipment expenditures.
        • Scott McNurlin to Sheriff’s: The Emergency Management people are your people and you need to talk to them about it if you want to use that money for planning. Even if we were able to solidify that money for planning, we would have to find an equitable division of the money. There are a total of 16 counties in Region 1’s Emergency Management area, and 5 of those counties are outside of the SE MN RAC region. This will be relevant in a sense that the funds available are for REGIONAL funding, and the funding will not be to the extent that Scott Wiggins indicated.
      • GRANT TWO is not out yet. It will be coming out in a couple of weeks for emergency managers to apply for. Olmsted County will also act as the fiscal agent on this grant for a 3% fee. The emergency managers will have to review the legal obligations for the grant and make application. We will look at what kind of adjustments need to be made for how much could or would go toward planning and how much toward equipment. We need to see more of the details of the grant itself before we can do that.
      • There are 3 more additional grants coming out in 2007 that Scott Wiggins referred to in his e-mail.
    • Scott McNurlin
    • Tom Hannon sent me the NW Region’s document on requesting funds for studies. It was sent out to the Planning Committee for editing and to the Policy Committee for review.
    • The Planning Committee met for lunch today to discuss it, but have not yet done any of our editing. We will do that over the next two weeks and then get it to the Policy Committee for their review.
    • The Policy Committee will bring a final document to the whole group for final approval.
    • Once that is done, we will then have to discuss what we are going to do on a regional planning level to equitably distribute the funding to those who really need it.
    • You need to consider what is in your county’s best interest from a business perspective and on a bigger level, how we are going to handle interoperability regionally.
    • We also need to consider how counties within our region will interoperate with Iowa and Wisconsin.
    • In talking to Scott Wiggins, we have two options:
      • Proposition the Homeland Security Region 1 Directors to say we know you have money for planning set aside and we are in need of that money for propagation studies.
      • Wait for ARMER to develop an RFP for a regional study – This option cannot be spent on VHF studies.
    • The Sheriffs need to tell their Emergency Managers to vote on this for the RAC. We need to leverage that idea. McNurlin has talked to Craig Strand on two different occasions asking for his help to make this appeal and garner as much of that money as possible.
    • It is going to cost roughly $240,000 to fund looking at VHF vs. 800 MHz between the 8 counties. We cannot even begin to do regional planning until these studies are completed. If we can use the Homeland Security planning money, we could fund the VHF/800 MHz study ourselves and not wait for the State of MN’s RFP.
    Technical & Operations Committee
    Have not had a reason to meet yet.

    Policy Committee
    Waiting for a document from the Planning Committee so we have a purpose to meet.

    JPB Agreement Committee
    Scott McNurlin:
    • Barb Brewington, Sheriff Jenson and Scott McNurlin are on Committee.
    • We have one Commissioner willing to sit on the committee (Tom Shea/Steele Co).
    • We have one County Attorney willing to sit on the committee (Meredith Erickson/Rice Co).
    • We have one Sheriff willing to sit on the committee (Sheriff Borchardt/Olmsted Co).
    • We are still in need of a few more commissioners and at least one more county attorney.
    • We would also like to see at least two County Administrators on the committee.
    • PLEASE TALK TO YOUR COUNTY LEVEL FOLKS AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO GET INVOLVED. Send names of those people to Scott McNurlin within the next week.
    • First meeting will be scheduled for sometime in December, once we know who all the players will be, we will schedule it.
    • First meeting will be a face to face meeting, so that everyone can meet each other and put a face to the name.
    • Further meetings will be handled by teleconference.
    • Further needed communication amongst committee will be addressed through e-mail if needed.
  6. Next Meeting
    The next meeting will be held at the Rochester Public Utilities Conference Room on Thursday, December 20th, 2007 at 1:00 p.m.
  7. Adjournment
    Motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Terese Amazi, seconded by Rodney Bartsch. Motion carried.
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