Houston P25 Network Withstands Harvey
Wednesday, September 06, 2017 | Comments

Only one LMR site in Houston’s Project 25 (P25) Phase 2 network went down completely during Hurricane Harvey, said Tom Sorley, deputy chief information officer (CIO) – public safety for the city of Houston Information Technology Services (HITS).

Sorley said the site was flooded over the roof so all equipment must be replaced. The city also lost main electrical service in one site, but otherwise, the 57-site network, initially deployed in stages beginning in 2012, held up well. He is responsible for direct oversight of radio communications and IT services for the Houston Emergency Center, the city’s combined dispatch and emergency operations center.

Houston turned on all the generators in advance of the storm to avoid generator over cranks. “One thing I learned is they used about a quart of oil a day, which isn’t good when they hold five quarts of oil,” Sorley said. “By the fourth day, we were in high water vehicles going to sites to add oil. We had plenty of fuel but oil became the issue. … We learn something new every time.”

He is talking with the manufacturer about why the generators burned so much oil.

Sorley said he is fortunate that his family and home are fine. He said about five of the 50 emergency center employees had significant damage to their property. “The big thing from down here is none of my employees were injured,” he said during a National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) meeting.

The Harris County LMR and Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks also withstood the storm with just two sites going down and no loss of communications.

More details on the Houston P25 network are available here and in the March 2012 issue of MissionCritical Communications magazine.

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On 9/12/17, Stephen Whitaker said:
I'd like to see more information on the Houston systems' public-safety-grade hardening standards and contrast those to what AT&T/FirstNet is proposing for the state buildouts.

On 9/8/17, Mike Christie said:
Regarding the generators using a quart of oil a day, what type of generators were these and were they gas, diesel or propane? It was a very good point about starting the generators ahead of time. Thank you for publishing information on how well these infrastructures hold up in disasters. I think we can all learn from these lessons.

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