Clallam considers wireless network expansion with satellite technology

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners today will consider approving a contract amendment with a private company to enhance a satellite communications network that could be used in a disaster.

No commissioner objected to the amended personal services agreement when it was discussed in a work session Monday.

The county received a $382,785 port security grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to protect the Port of Port Angeles.

The grant is being used to build a portable mesh network to ensure communications after a shipwreck, oil spill or terrorist incident.

“If the phones and Internet blow out, we'll have an opportunity to communicate throughout the county by satellite,” said Penelope Linterman, Clallam County emergency management program coordinator.

While the total amount of the grant is unchanged, the contract amendment would add $100,000 to the $275,000 that was originally going to the Fall City-based Last Mile Networks.

If approved, Last Mile Networks will add wireless communications equipment to the county's incident command vehicle, two communications trailers and Emergency Operations Center at the Clallam County Courthouse.

Linterman said the technology is “truly cutting edge.”

The money for the added communications equipment was previously earmarked for an armored van.

“We're no longer going to purchase that,” Sheriff's Office Chief Civil Deputy Alice Hoffman told commissioners Monday.

“So we moved that money into communications equipment.”

County officials said the armored van did not meet the needs of the Sheriff's Office.

Undersheriff Ron Peregrin said the contract amendment would provide a satellite link between the incident command vehicle and Emergency Operations Center.

“It's given us a little more latitude to flesh out our product a little more,” Linterman said of the mesh network.

The county has been developing a portable communications network for the past three years.

“The technology has changed very rapidly,” Linterman said.

“That's enabled us to get better stuff for the same money.”

Clallam County received the no-match Port Security grant because it sits on an international border.

A portion of the grant will be used to outfit the incident command vehicle with solar and wind generators to operate without fuel, Linterman said.

Once completed later this year, the network would be available to other law enforcement agencies within the county.

“It's the region's equipment,” Linterman said.

“We're going to manage it, but its for the protection of the port.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 10. 2014 9:32PM
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