Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the partnership between the State of Florida and L3Harris to build, operate and maintain the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS). Completed by L3Harris in 2001, the system connected disparate state agencies into one communications network and enabled law enforcement agencies across the state to join the network. For the last 20 years, the state and company have worked together to ensure the effectiveness of communications, not only for first responders, but also the citizens they serve.
That has been especially important for Florida as a hurricane-prone state. Since SLERS went online, 15 hurricanes and 10 tropical storms have taken aim at the state. During those storms, as well as numerous large-venue events, the system has maintained a 99.96 percent uptime rate – often in treacherous conditions.
The states most active hurricane seasons, including 2004 and 2005, as well as 2017’s Hurricane Irma and 2018’s Hurricane Michael have demonstrated the immense destruction large storms can bring, but also the integrity of the SLERS system.
Following Hurricane Michael, law enforcement and first responders in impacted areas that were without operable communications systems were brought on to the SLERS system to help them with their response and recovery efforts. Even with the damage Hurricane Michael brought to infrastructure and technology systems, SLERS sites that lost connectivity were completely brought back online within 96 hours of the storm’s landfall.
The system has been proven to be resilient and reliable even through major events, such as hurricanes. Throughout the current partnership, L3Harris has continued to strength the system by adding upgrades, including upgraded the SLERS aircraft system and a push-to-talk mobile application.
The full article is below.
SLERS: 20 YEARS OF UNINTERRUPTED STATE AGENCY SUPPORT
L3Harris and the State of Florida will enter the 20th year of the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) partnership in 2021. Over the last two decades, the state and company have worked together to ensure the effectiveness of communications, not only for first responders, but also the citizens they serve.
In the face of 15 hurricanes, 10 named tropical storms and numerous large-venue events, the system has maintained a 99.96 percent uptime rate in some of the region’s most-treacherous conditions.
“We have a proven track record showing we can provide the state of Florida’s emergency personnel uninterrupted connectivity during critical operations,” Steve Williams, L3Harris’ SLERS director, said. “The technology we incorporate into SLERS would be light years ahead of other companies’. When you talk about resiliency and redundancy, you can lose a control site and even the next one, and any other site can become the control point, assuring communications for the network. That in itself is a solution you need in Florida, given its nature as a hot bed of hurricane targets.”
Florida’s SLERS was conceived in 1987 to connect disparate state agencies into one communications network. The system became operational in 1992 – with counties coming online in stages – and, in 2000, the state awarded L3Harris a contract to finish the system, retrofit the existing infrastructure, and own and maintain the network.
“We work in concert with the state to ensure that all of their unplanned and planned events go well,” Williams said.
SLERS leverages “microwave communications with diversity,” Williams said, adding resiliency and redundancy into the network so communications can be restored quickly if a site goes off network temporarily due to damage or failure during storms.
Hurricanes of recent memory – notably the 2004 hurricane season, where four storms took aim at Florida in quick succession, 2017’s Irma and 2018’s Michael – have shown the immense destruction large storms can bring, but also the integrity of L3Harris’ system. During Michael, for instance, when counties and cities were without communications due to catastrophic loss of infrastructure, SLERS sites that lost connectivity were completely brought back online within 96 hours of the storm’s landfall. Agencies without communications were brought on to SLERS to support their storm response and day-to-day operations.
Ensuring connectivity and facilitating upgrades
When entering into the 20-year contract, the Melbourne-based business was cognizant of possible parts obsolescence issues and proactively procured hardware to ensure the network’s integrity for the entirety of the program. Further, the company stocks up on supplies before every storm season.
L3Harris has incorporated upgrades to the system over the years. In 2011, the company upgraded the SLERS aircraft system to include P25 capability. In 2014, P25 and the BeOn push-to-talk mobile application were also incorporated into SLERS’ Mobile Radio System.
“This system can move in its current configuration to the newer technologies – you don’t have to start from scratch,” Williams said. “When you’ve already made the investment in the current system, you can build off of it to meet new requirements in a cost-effective manner.”
To date, L3Harris still has agencies within the state that are looking to join the network, he added.
“It’s very cost-effective, and they don’t have to manage the system themselves,” Williams said. “From a user impact perspective, we have the only radio that can work on EDACS-EA and P25. It allows you to migrate the system to with nominal or no user impact and not require officers to carry two radios.”
About L3Harris Technologies
L3Harris Technologies is an agile global aerospace and defense technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs. The company provides advanced defense and commercial technologies across air, land, sea, space and cyber domains. L3Harris has approximately $18 billion in annual revenue and 48,000 employees, with customers in more than 100 countries. L3Harris.com.