A change is coming in the way most city of Hannibal departments communicate, which will enhance safety and cut costs.

A change is coming in the way most city of Hannibal departments communicate, which will enhance safety and cut costs. Those benefits will be provided by new microwave radio technology the City Council approved spending just under $45,000 for on Tuesday night.

At the top of the list of benefits is enhanced public safety, according to HPD Chief Lyndell Davis.

“Due to the geography of Hannibal, public safety radio communications with portable radios are often plagued with interference or ‘dead’ spots where communication is difficult or non-existent,” said Davis in an e-mail to the Courier-Post. “The fourth antenna site should improve our ability to communicate while using portable radios when out by the hospital, clinic, community college, etc. There already has been significant development on the western part of the community with more to come so the fourth antenna site is a necessary step to insure the city can provide the best service possible by improving our ability to communicate.”

Improved communication will also make the job of officers a bit safer.

“Adequate ability to provide radio communication for our personnel when away from their vehicle allows officers to request assistance when needed and allows for dispatchers and supervisors to conduct verbal status/safety checks with public safety personnel,” said Davis. “It is not uncommon for incidents that might at first be stabilized to escalate in intensity instantly and the need for additional staffing or assistance from other agencies is required. Plus it is our practice to check those we make contact with for any outstanding warrants or any known violent tendencies.”

Another significant benefit the new system will provide is a cash savings for the fiscally stressed city. Because “multiple telephone land lines” will no longer be necessary to help provide radio communications, it is estimated the city will see a savings of $700 per month, according to City Clerk Angel Vance.

“This (microwave technology) will eliminate the need for point-to-point circuits,” she said. “It will definitely pay for itself in not too awful long based on our calculations, which will free up additional revenue.”

The change will not require updates or modifications to the overall radio system’s hardware – desk-mounted, hand-held and vehicle radio gear.

“We are not replacing the entire communication equipment, only the need for multiple telephone landlines,” said Davis. “The microwave technology will be used at all three of the current tower sites and the additional fourth site.”

The new fourth antenna site will be a Board of Public Works water tower. Davis thanked the BPW for its cooperation.

The radio system upgrade will not just benefit the HPD. According to Davis, the radio communications of the Fire, Parks & Recreation, Code Enforcement and Street departments will also be affected by the upcoming change, which will take place in the next month.

One thing that won’t be impacted by the change is one of the most popular pastimes in Hannibal – the monitoring of police and fire calls by the public.

“There should be no change to scanner traffic by the implementation of the microwave technology. The radio transmission heard by the scanner is received from the main tower after it has been sent there by the microwave antenna. Currently this is done by phone line,” said Davis.