Suppose there were an emergency at Evanston Township High School and first-responders were unable to talk with each other. A system was recently installed to ensure that such a thing is unlikely to happen.

While it has not yet been a problem, police and fire officials have noticed that there are certain areas of the school where, because of the vastness of the building, radio communications might not be as effective as it needs to be.

It is similar to what happens when you’re listening to the radio in your car, and the signal drops off as you pull into a large parking garage.

Imagine if that should happen to police or firefighters who are dealing with an emergency at the high school where lives are at stake.

An engineering firm, Cobham Wireless, based in the United Kingdom, has joined forces with a number of high-tech organizations, as well as Evanston fire and police departments, to install what they call an intelligent digital distributed antenna system at the school which connects to a nearby AT&T cell tower.

All parties contributed equipment and services, with AT&T donating a significant amount of testing and engineering time, so that the system, including maintenance for five years, was fully paid for at no cost to the school.

“The safety and well-being of our staff and students,” says Mary Rodino, the chief financial officer at ETHS, “is our primary concern, and communication between emergency service teams plays a major part in this.”

Evanston Police Department Communication Coordinator Perry Polinski added that the department was “very pleased with the improvement in radio coverage, and it was a pleasure working with the high school and many companies involved.”

A Cobham Wireless sales official, Matt Thompson, noted that “we’ve provided equipment for the likes of the Pentagon, the 2016 World Cup stadiums, and the World Trade Center, so we’re excited to now add Evanston to that list.”

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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