The Missouri Department of Public Safety’s quest to improve its communication coverage is expected to go live this week.

A communications antenna was installed on the Crestview water tower Friday, May 12. Washington Communications Director Lisa Moffitt said after the installation the Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network (MOSWIN) system is expected to be up and running sometime later this week.

Last year the city and the Missouri Department of Public Safety agreed to a deal that would allow the state to lease space on top of the water tower. As part of the deal, the city will get $15,000 annually and the state will get help improving communications coverage.

The antenna is intended to fix a “dead zone” in northern Franklin County. Last year the state said Missouri State Highway Patrol officers have reported problems communicating in this area and have to switch to an older frequency.

The state public safety department brought a mobile communications tower to Washington last fall to study if the Crestview site would help improve coverage in the northern Franklin County MOSWIN system.

The MOSWIN system allows multiple agencies and jurisdictions to communicate throughout the state on the same network.

The test showed the new antenna would help, so the city and state worked out a deal. The initial term of the proposed lease would be from Jan. 1, 2017, through June 30, 2017, the end of the state’s fiscal year.

After that, the lease could be renewed annually for a 20-year period, with the final renewal period expiring on June 30, 2037, according to the agreement.

The Crestview water tower is scheduled to get repainted within the next year. Water/Wastewater Superintendent Kevin Quaethem said when the painting project starts, all the equipment on the top of the tower will be removed.

During that time, Quaethem said the state will bring in a mobile trailer to the site to keep the system running.

The equipment will be reinstalled back on the tower once the painting is finished.

Moffitt and the city are paying attention to the MOSWIN system. Having the capabilities in town could allow the city to hook up to the system and see some savings.

The city is currently discussing ways to save money. One of the areas targeted has been reducing fees spent on phone services with AT&T.

At the city’s administration/operations committee meeting in March, Moffitt said once the system is up and running, the city could jump on board and eliminate AT&T fees altogether. The MOSWIN option would have yearly fees of close to $50,000, she said. The downside is the costly initial outlay.

Moffitt said it would cost an estimated $775,000 to hook up to the system. The cost would be for equipment and upgrades — a bulk of the expense would go toward replacing every single radio used by police and fire personnel.

The city can hook up to MOSWIN at any time, or not at all. Moffitt said the city wants to be sure it would help its own officers to see if it’s worth the cost of making the switch.