Trustworthy: It’s about integrity and accountability

By Nicole Eaton, Charlotte Communications & Marketing

At the top of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center building, there’s a tiny room that looks something out of a tech movie with devices from floor to ceiling, complete with blinking lights. These devices are a part of a larger system that sends critical messages over an integrated radio system to first responders in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area and beyond. Paul Wilkerson is the Public Safety Communications Manager in the Innovation & Technology department. Several city departments and counties trust him to keep their equipment working.

Wilkerson has worked over 17 years with the city, but his work with radio communications repair started a lot earlier. He started working on radio systems when he was in the Army. As he was leaving the Army, he started asking police officers or others with radios where they got their equipment serviced. He saw an ad in the newspaper shortly after for the City of Charlotte in radio communications and his career with the city started.

Since then, he’s held various positions in the city and worked his way up to his current role. Wilkerson currently coordinates, administers and implements the necessary technology planning and infrastructure deployment required for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Urban Area Strategic Initiative (UASI) Radio Communications Network. The network provides reliable two-way radio communications every minute of every day. His role covers the entire UASI Radio Communications Network, which provides two-way radio service to more than 1.4 million citizens covering 1,923 square miles, made up of over 100 public safety agencies, 12 public service answering points, 29 remote tower sites and more than 26,000 radios throughout the region. In the public safety field, these radios could mean life or death.

“We receive blind trust from every individual that uses a radio across the six UASI counties that their voice will be transmitted and received whether it’s a routine call or a life and death situation.” — Paul Wilkerson, Innovation & Technology

Every day Wilkerson relies on his managers below him and their technicians to analyze risks as they perform their duties so they can inform users of potential impacts. He works daily with customers to develop solutions that enhance communications needs throughout the UASI region. The system needs to be able to perform under any circumstance, including large events like the Democratic National Convention, protests and severe weather events like hurricanes. Communications centers put trust in radio communications to not interrupt their operations and make sure the lines are secure and working. Wilkerson says, “The trust we receive from every local government, public safety and service agency is what allows us to perform our jobs.”

Trustworthy is a value that has been ingrained in Wilkerson since he was young and in Boy Scouts. He says, “Trustworthy is the building block of my own core values. It includes integrity, meaning, doing what I say and meaning what I say. It’s also being accountable for my actions. Trust is the base to every successful relationship.”

It helps that Wilkerson is surrounded by hardworking individuals on his team. They work together to provide a service that impacts every person who lives in, visits or passes through the City of Charlotte and the UASI region.

“We are partners with the UASI network which is forged with collaboration, inclusiveness, accountability and creativity across many county and city lines. I love what I do for the City of Charlotte and I’m grateful for the opportunities I have been challenged with.”