New tech to help Nevada County authorities during emergencies |

New tech to help Nevada County authorities during emergencies

Nevada County has purchased equipment that will help it deliver reliable high-speed internet to remote locations during emergency situations.

According to Office of Emergency Services Program Manager Paul Cummings, the office along with the Sheriff’s Office jointly bought a mobile satellite communications systems, or SatRunner, that will be operated and maintained by the sheriff’s search and rescue team.

“It’ll provide connectivity where there is none in our very rural county in support of law enforcement, search and rescue, and evacuations,” Cummings told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Cummings said the equipment, costing around $60,000, was purchased using Homeland Security money and was received by the county this week.

The device establishes a local area voice and data network that would allow for cell phone service and internet access.

The equipment was in particular need as Comcast Director of Government Affairs Phillip Arndt told Supervisors Tuesday that their network — which can often be resident’s only line of communication in an emergency ­— is at the whim of PG&E’s discretion during a Public Safety Power Shut-off.

“We need commercial power to run our vast network, and without that commercial power we’re unable to provide all our suite of services to our customers, unfortunately,” Arndt said. “We can usually stay up for a few hours afterward.”

Arndt said some customers have been frustrated when their power is on, but their Comcast service is not due to the company transmitting service from an area without power. While he’s heard suggestions that Comcast could use generators to keep service uninterrupted during power shut-offs, he said that wouldn’t be a feasible large-scale solution, and there isn’t one in the short term.

“To keep a system up, not just in Nevada County but throughout Northern California, requires hundreds of thousands of generators, even Nevada County would be hundreds of generators,” he said.

“We are at the mercy of PG&E.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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