Virginia Statewide Agencies Radio Systems (VA STARS)

The Statewide Agencies Radio System (STARS) Program facilitates the communications of 21 participating state agencies by upgrading the existing Virginia State Police land mobile and microwave radio networks. STARS creates an integrated, seamless, statewide, wireless voice and data communications system designed to meet the needs of these agencies. The system is shared by agencies engaged in public safety, protection, and service; and includes federal users and allows interoperability with their facilities within the Commonwealth. To accomplish this, the program will: increase capacity, upgrade the technology, and enhance coverage of the land mobile radio network; upgrade the technology of, and create disaster recovery alternate paths for the microwave radio network; and implement statewide law enforcement mobile data.

Virginia is one of the first states to employ an Integrated Voice and Data (IV&D) land mobile radio architecture, which uses the same mobile radio for both voice and law enforcement computer communications. Virginia will have statewide mobile data coverage far greater than what could be obtained commercially.

The Commonwealth selected Motorola Communications as the program manager for the project and awarded them a contract of $329,895,699 for the design and construction of the facilities required, as well as the supply and integration of the fixed and mobile communications equipment. The project included facility upgrades at eight sites as well as hundreds of communication towers and installations in thousands of vehicles.

Native Sons was awarded the design-construct general contract for the modifications and additions to two of the fixed locations; Virginia State Police Headquarters, Richmond Division and Virginia State Police Headquarters, Tidewater Division.

Richmond – Communications Center -renovated and increased from five dispatch consoles to eight. The work included a 440 square foot addition to and renovations of the existing dispatch center. This location serves as the primary network operations dispatch center for the district. Modifications were made to the electrical and mechanical systems to provide support for the 24/7 911 and police dispatch operation. Also housed in the renovated facility was the fixed radio equipment that was the heart of the STARS program. The scope included facility hardening to protect the equipment and personnel that would be vital in the event of any type of catastrophe. The custom precast and masonry work was accomplished in far less time than expected due to design and material innovations recommended by Native Sons. Although Richmond has a relatively temperate climate, the structure was constructed to sustain extremes of wind, cold, heat and water, with structure, insulation, and run-off control that exceeded the area norm. The dispatch room included raised access flooring to facilitate the installation of the radio and dispatch interconnecting cabling. The equipment is protected by a clean agent system. ADA upgrades were required for access to the dispatch center.

All construction was accomplished while the existing dispatch center was fully operational without any down-time or loss of functionality. The Division went operational December 21, 2005.

Tidewater – Communications Center -renovated and increased from five dispatch consoles to eight. The construction scope was similar to Richmond but with the added requirements of meeting FEMA hurricane standards and relocation of the existing entrance driveway and parking areas. The Division went operational June 12, 2007.

The owner is the Commonwealth of Virginia, Captain Michael E. Bolton, STARS Director, Virginia State Police. The program manager was Motorola Communications, Dean Hart. Native Sons Ltd Project Manager was Troy Stratakes.