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Brewster Bevis: Florida leaders best serve our state by placing a high value on superior technology for first responders

It’s not always a bad thing to start over.

It was decided years ago that Florida’s public safety communications system, known as the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS), needed to be upgraded to the latest standards-based technology, designed for interoperable communications across public safety agencies.

The resulting procurement process included a number of experienced vendors who showcased their technologies and ability to bring connectivity to first responders and law enforcement in the state.

Ultimately, a 15-year contract was awarded to take Florida into the next generation of state-of-the-art, mission-critical radio communications.

Unfortunately, the multi-bid, multiyear process, coupled with the complexity of the project, which involved significant build-out requirements and legal delays, stymied the ultimate execution of the contract.

Today, we find ourselves back at the beginning, likely starting the procurement process all over again. However, the optimistic among those of us with experience in both business and government, know it’s not always a bad thing to start over.

Consider what we learned during the initial procurement process.

We know upfront investments and risks are expected from the winning vendor of the long-term contract. We also know that technology evolves and improves over time. The state has an opportunity to update the requirements outlined more than five years ago to reflect today’s technology advancements.

Competitive procurements encourage bidders to up their games, demanding they provide their best product offerings at the most economical value to the customer, and the state of Florida stands to benefit.

As the Department of Management Services looks at a new timeline and process for selecting a company to build and run the new radio network, we encourage vendors seeking the contract to respond swiftly with competitive bids for a network that will provide the reliability and seamless interoperability that our state expects and our law enforcement community deserves.

On behalf of the Associated Industries of Florida’s Technology Council, we thank the state for its efforts to deliver superior technology and advanced connectivity. Florida will be better served as a result.

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Brewster Bevis is senior vice president of state and federal affairs of the Associated Industries of Florida.

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