A new digital emergency communication system in Lexington allows interagency communication throughout the county — even inside buildings.
The system, designed by Cassidian Communications, allows police, firefighters, and corrections and airport officials to communicate with one another.
Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said the system will greatly help officials stay interconnected during a disaster or big city events, such as the Fourth of July festival.
"Let's say something was going on at the sheriff's department that they wanted us to know about," Roberts said. "Under the old system, they would have had to pick up the phone and call us. This way they just have to use their radio."
The radios are already being used by police, corrections, emergency dispatchers and airport officials. The fire department is expected to join the system later this year.
The federally mandated improvements cost the city $10.1 million, a big drop from the expected cost of $17 million. Lexington was able to save money by using pre-existing radio towers and buying the radios in a reverse-auction process.
In a news release Monday, Mayor Jim Gray said he was excited about the new system, which will cover 98 percent of the county.
"This is a first for our city," he said. "The first time in our history we've had seamless emergency radio communication among first-responder agencies; the first time we've been able to communicate across this much of the county; the first time we've had good radio access inside buildings."