MADISON, Wis. -

After securing intergovernmental agreements from most of the cities, villages and towns in Dane County, the county is moving forward to develop a new emergency communications radio network, County Executive Joe Parisi and County Board Chair Scott McDonell announced Wednesday.

The project, known as "DaneCom," will link emergency responders and public works officials across Dane County.

Parisi said the countywide emergency communications network for police, fire and emergency medical services will greatly improve radio coverage in rural, outlying areas, keeping responders and citizens safe.

Under the terms of agreements signed by 55 of 59 municipalities participating in the network, Dane County will pay the capital costs of constructing the new system -- about $18 million, according to a news release from the Dane County executive's office.

After the network is up and running, the county, cities, villages and towns will share the ongoing cost to operate and maintain the network, estimated at $825,000 annually.

"Our fire departments, emergency medical service providers, and law enforcement agencies partner together to keep us safe," Parisi said in a news release. "Now the county is doing the same with its communities -- teaming together in the interest of public safety."

The new digital communications system includes a variety of state-of-the-art features including expanded coverage to rural areas, enhanced technology to assist firefighters communicate on the scenes of fires and communication bridges allowing responders using different networks to talk with one another. Parisi said this will be particularly helpful in improving communication on incidents that involve a regional response.

"DaneCom" will be managed in the years ahead by the "DaneCom Governance Board " composed of representatives of Dane County, the Dane County Cities and Villages and Dane County Towns Associations, the Dane County Chiefs of Police, Dane County EMS Association, and Dane County Fire Chiefs Associations, according to the release.

In the weeks ahead, the Dane County Board will review a resolution authorizing the county executive to sign the dozens of intergovernmental agreements from cities, villages and towns.

Once that process is complete, construction of "DaneCom" will begin shortly thereafter, with an estimated completion and implementation in 2013.