Monday, April 26, 2010


The Daley administration got the go-ahead today to build “wireless communications towers” — as high as 15-story buildings — adjacent to police and fire stations to improve radio communications and pave the way for more surveillance cameras

“The reason we need this 150-foot height is because it provides a clear line of sight for our communications towers over trees and existing buildings,” said Deputy Fire Commissioner Michael Callahan.

“Some of the areas of the city right now — we don’t have as robust communications capability as we’d like. Specifically, the Southwest and South Sides of the city as far as radio transmission.”

Ald. Ginger Rugai (19th) acknowledged that the 150-foot towers “are not going to be pretty.” But, she’s willing to tolerate the eyesore if it paves the way for surveillance cameras at schools, parks and playlots that can’t get them.

“If you go up our hills off Longwood Drive to get up to West Beverly and Mount Greenwood, we can’t get cameras. The radio tower we have at 104th and Vincennes, which is outside our ward, can’t reach up the hills through all the trees. There’s no line of sight,” Rugai said.

Currently, the Police and Fire Departments operate separate radio systems. That can require towers to be located in close proximity.

But, work has begun on a “City of Chicago radio system” that would someday consolidate all the radio systems.

“It’s a very, very large job. We’re trying to find out what all of the other agencies need — what their requirements are — so we can meet their operational needs,” one official said.

I hope this new system is better than the one they installed in zone 4. I bet the city will lease space on these towers to cell phone companies. Probably just another way to give out contracts to connected people. They never seemed to give a damn about fire or police radios in the past. Why now? Someone will get rich off this. And the radios won't get any better.

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