Each school district has a slightly different listing of talkgroups (channels). But the layout is more or less the same. The radio models are not all the same with each district.
Coverage: most of the state is covered, when you are outdoors. There are a few places that there is poor or no coverage. In building coverage is not usually very good- especially in Houghton and Hancock because the towers are up on the hills. This will change by the end of the summer as there is a new tower going up (at Michigan Tech) that will drastically improve coverage down in the valley.
I’m not quite sure what you mean by “just between two radios”. Any radio on that talk group will hear the traffic. I’m not sure if those radiosare setup to do private calls- I doubt it.
Employees may use them traveling to remote sites. Home visits would be another idea (I’m not sure if you have employees that make home visits). For example, the truant officer has been assigned a radio by the sheriff’s office when he makes visits to homes.
The radios do not have any “law enforcement” talkgroups in them. However, the Negaunee Regional (Station 80) can be reached on STATW8 at any time.
Here is description of the talkgroups you should have in your radios:
31CCISD: shared with all of the school districts/schools in the CCISD. The emergency manager, the sheriff’s offices (both Houghton and Keweenaw) have this talkgroup as well, but do not actively monitor it. I believe this is enabled state wide. Meaning if you have a trip downstate, you should be able to use this talkgroup and be able to talk back to someone here.
31ISD: only the two radios the ISD has has this talkgroup. So it is for your internal use. Each school district has an internal use only talkgroup (they are called 31 something).
STATW8: Referred to as State Wide 8. This is a talkgroup that (is supposed to be) in all of the radios in the state. It is for District 8 interoperable communications with Negaunee Regional (I’m not sure if the other dispatch centers in other counties monitor this or not). This is the only talkgroup in your radios that Negaunee Regional monitors 24/7.
31COM: interoperable talkgroup. All radios in Houghton County have this talkgroup (law, first responders, EMS, fire). Again, it is not monitored actively but some people may scan it. If you need to talk to another agency, this is what you could all switch to. For example, if you have the fire department come during a fire drill, you could talk with them on 31COM *if you have that worked out ahead of time* (otherwise they likely won’t know to switch to that talkgroup).
31EMER: an another interoperable talkgroup used during emergencies or exercises.
31SPEV2: interoperable talkgroup used for events in the county
Then there are the Event talk groups (1~30). Those can be requested to be activated by the Network Control Center in Lansing. We do this if we have an event/incident where we have people that don’t have any of the same talkgroups in their radios. For example, for the Copper Dog 150 race, we use radios from Gogebic and Marquette counties. Since they don’t have our common talkgroups (from the county) we use an event channel that is also in those radios.
The short version: you should feel free to use 31ISD for anything you want and only your radios will hear it. 31CCISD can be used for whatever the school districts feel is appropriate as a group (they will all hear it). The other talkgroups are shared with others and can be used when you have to work with another agency (fire, law, ems, etc). STATW8 is for you to contact Negaunee Regional.
If there is interest, I’d be happy to come over and we can walkthrough using the radios and practice switching through the talkgroups. If you have any other questions, please let me know.