ETHS District 202 becomes model school for public safety communications
Jan 25, 2018 3:28pm CT
In an effort to improve cellular coverage in its 94-year-old building, Evanston Township High School District 202 worked with Cobham Wireless and a number of partners to implement a new Distributed Antenna System (DAS) that showcases the future of public safety communications. The DAS project that launched in the 2017-18 school year has addressed the problem of cellular coverage in the older core of the ETHS building, including the historic Heritage Hall.
“Communications is now considered the fourth utility,” said Keith Radousky, president of Radvisory 5G, explaining the basic necessity of cellular technology today with 80 percent of 9-1-1 calls made over wireless. The DAS system at ETHS serves Evanston’s first responders as well as ETHS staff who rely on in-building communication during critical situations. This could be the beginning of a trend as more institutions like schools, hospitals, and courthouses expand their public safety cellular coverage.
A tour of ETHS’s DAS space highlights the technology used at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and other public buildings where public safety is a top priority.
The DAS project was designed and installed at no cost to ETHS thanks to Cobham’s partnership with Radvisory 5G, RFS, Galtronics, Graybar, Chicago Communications, and Fullerton Engineering. Testing and engineering time was contributed by AT&T. The cost of the DAS maintenance is covered for the first five years, and the school district expects an overall reduction in operational costs over time since the DAS uses 30 percent less electricity than traditional systems.
As a result of the broad partnership, the most advanced distributed antenna system in the world now exists at ETHS. Radousky noted that Chicagoland has a history of technology firsts and ETHS may be the first public high school anywhere to have a pure hybrid public safety and cellular digital system.
ETHS departments such as Safety and Operations provided critical support for the DAS project, and staff members involved have been impressed with faster, more clear, and more accurate cellular coverage throughout the high school as a result of the DAS launch. “With this implementation, we’ve been able to surmount a number of wireless challenges as well as take steps to remain at the forefront of the best technology in public safety communications,” remarked Terrence Doby, ETHS Assistant Director of Safety.
Representing the broad partnership of the DAS project at ETHS are (from left): Keith Radousky (Radvisory 5G), Brian Scott (Evanston Fire Department), Matt Thompson (Cobham Wireless), Richard Eddington (Evanston Police Department), Perry Polinski (Evanston Police Department), and Rami Hasarchi (Cobham Wireless).
The benefit of the DAS project to the Evanston community is notable as well. In addition to strengthening “good public safety” in the community, cellular service around the perimeter of the ETHS building is improved.