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To Improve Emergency Response, City Will Place Antenna Atop Ryan Field

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November 2, 2006

During a recent review of its city-wide emergency communications network, the City of Evanston discovered “dead spots,” or areas where wireless phone service cuts out. This causes serious problems when firefighters and police are unable to communicate with the City’s 911 dispatch center.

The City had planned to improve coverage by erecting a radio tower at the municipal service center at 2020 Asbury Ave. However, when the bid came in higher than expected, Ald. Edmund Moran and Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky approached Northwestern about placing an antenna atop Ryan Field.

University officials determined appropriate locations for the antenna and accompanying power equipment and also provided connections between Northwestern and the City fiber optic cable system.

According to Ron Nayler, associate vice president for facilities management, Northwestern offered the City a renewable 10-year lease, free of charge.

The lease agreement is significant in that the University normally charges commercial vendors an annual fee to utilize campus locations for similar communication purposes.

City officials estimate the Northwestern deal will be worth as much as $200,000.

Evanston has agreed to pay all capital costs and installation fees for the work, which is scheduled to take place this year.

“We were happy to help because improved emergency response benefits not only the residents of these affected areas but the entire Evanston community, which obviously includes Northwestern students, faculty and staff,” Nayler said.