August 27, 2010
Broadband Wireless Data Network Grant Approved
The City of Charlotte was notified on August 17, 2010 by the U.S. Department of Commerce that it is being awarded $16.7 million in economic stimulus funds to develop CharMeck Connect. CharMeck Connect is a broadband infrastructure project that will provide enhanced communications services to public safety agencies. This grant was endorsed by the Board at its March 2, 2010 meeting.
The City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the Towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville are partnering to develop a state-of-the-art broadband interoperable network based on 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. This network will enable 21st century tools such as wireless broadband, multimedia applications, enhanced voice and data interoperability. The project will bring more than 11,000 public safety end users onto the 700 MHz broadband network.
The new LTE technology to be deployed will significantly improve public safety response to incidents through: mobile data and high speed internet connection in every police and fire vehicle; Live Incident Video that streams directly to responding units and communication centers; Broadband Data Dispatch, which has the ability to transmit data to field units; Automatic Vehicle Location, which allows dispatch to monitor the exact locations of each vehicle; transmission of suspect/vehicle photographs; broadcast of blueprints and building plans; transmission of patient data to medical personnel; and enhanced surveillance and monitoring capabilities.
CharMeck Connect also will serve as the foundation for a future regional public safety wireless broadband network throughout the Charlotte Urban Area Security Initiative region. This region comprises 10 counties surrounding Charlotte in North and South Carolina.
At the time the Board endorsed this grant, the original intent of the grant was to build a broadband wireless data network to provide communication services for public safety, other government agencies, education, and low-income housing customers through the Charlotte Housing Authority. However, the FCC restricted the use of the wireless frequencies that will be used in the network to only public safety agencies. Therefore, the City had to accept this condition to be eligible for the grant. The FCC and Department of Commerce plan to revisit this restriction and the City anticipates the restriction will be lifted by the time the network is operational in about two years. The long-term plan is to serve all the customers cited in the original intent, subject to approval by the Federal government.
Board members with questions should contact IST Director Jerry Pinkard, email or 704-336-2891.
YMCA Program Consolidation
Earlier this summer after the adoption of the FY11 budget, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte approached the County Manager’s Office about transferring the County’s funding from the YMCA’s Strengthening Families program to its Starfish Academy program. During a recent strategic planning process, the YMCA identified Starfish Academy as a higher priority program. We support this shift in funding because the Starfish Academy program is a higher performing service and is part of the Education Support Services Program Category, which is within the Board’s number one priority level.
For FY11, the County will transfer Strengthening Families funding totaling $78,375 to Starfish Academy, resulting in total funding of $148,375 for the Starfish Academy program. Starfish Academy provides summer and afterschool literacy education to at-risk first and second graders. YMCA Strengthening Families has provided intensive case management to low-income families.
Based on this shift of funds, YMCA will focus on providing wraparound services to families of children participating in Starfish Academy. Expanded services will include case management and referrals to other services, including programs and activities at YMCA branches. The additional County funding will support a YMCA Family Advocate position that will offer Starfish Academy participating families additional support and access to additional family development and educational opportunities.
Board members with questions should contact Management and Budget Director Hyong Yi, email or 704-336-6945.
Commisioner Leake Appointed to NACO Steering Committee
On August 6, 2010, Commissioner Vilma Leake was appointed to NACo’s Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) Steering Committee. LUUC’s charge is to identify urban challenges and provide input in developing national solutions to assist metropolitan communities nationwide.
Each year LUCC establishes key lobbying priorities that have national scope and importance to metropolitan counties. LUCC advocates these key lobbying priorities with the assistance of NACo's eleven policy steering committees.
Each year the caucus leadership meets at its annual retreat and develops LUCC’s legislative priorities for the upcoming year and deliberates on many critical legislative issues impacting the nations’ urban counties. This year’s annual retreat is scheduled to take place October 13-15 in Palm Beach County, Florida.
General Manager Appointed to ASCE Committee
General Manager Bobbie Shields has been appointed to serve a three-year term on the Committee on Professional Practice for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This is a national level committee charged with providing vision, leadership and direction to ASCE and its members.
Founded in 1852, ASCE represents more than 144,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. Its primary mission is to advocate for infrastructure and environmental stewardship.
-- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager