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QC Emergency Dispatching Switching to Digital

Public safety agencies in the Quad Cities are preparing to start using a digital radio system for all their dispatching.

new portable digital radios
new portable digital radios

Dave Donovan, Director of the Scott Emergency Communications Center and the county's Emergency Management Agency, says digital technology will allow all communications for police, fire, and ambulances to be encrypted.

"Which are like encryption on a computer - it scrambles the signal and then re-assembles the signal on the other end to prevent anyone from intercepting that."

The current dispatching centers, one for all of Scott County and the three serving agencies in Rock Island County, will continue to operate. But they'll be better able to communicate with each other, and can easily talk to both the Iowa State Patrol and Illinois State Police.

"I think the new system will obviously make our responses better for the community, especially those that involve multiple jurisdictions and it'll be more seamless for mutual aid between the two counties as well."

Planning for the new system started several years ago, and it cost 18 million dollars.

The change to digital encryption also means that listening to emergency communications in the Quad Cities with a scanner will no longer be possible.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.