Today's E9-1-1 call-taking equipment, often referred to as CPE (Customer Premise Equipment), was designed to deliver three pieces of information to 9-1-1 call takers: the caller's voice, telephone number, and address.
In the early 9-1-1 world, that was all that was available. But today, citizens are using smartphones, Wi-Fi® connected iPads ®, and Voice over IP (VoIP). They are accustomed to sending text and video and graphics. They expect public safety answering points (PSAPs) to be able to handle such things, because they assume that PSAPs have kept up with ongoing 21st century technology revolution. There's simply a greater expectation of service today than there was just 10 or even five years ago.
Unfortunately, the outdated 9-1-1 call-taking equipment in use in most PSAPs is still only able to handle the basics: voice, telephone number and address. In most, but not all, areas, a cellular caller's geographic coordinates as provided by their wireless service provider also can be displayed, but location accuracy varies widely, affecting the ability of first responders to find callers quickly in case of an emergency.
Thankfully, new PSAP capabilities are on the horizon and the next generation of 9-1-1, or NG9-1-1 for short, is intended to close the technology gap and allow citizens to easily contact 9-1-1 from any networked device. In the NG9-1-1 world, new call-taking equipment will have the ability to accept caller text messages, photos, and even videos. In fact, 9-1-1 call takers will not only be able to access and use all of the multimedia input that callers send to them, they'll also be able to pass this highly relevant and timely information on to first responders for improved responses, collaboration and decisions.
The potential curve in the road is the reality of tight government budgets, as well as legacy 9-1-1 funding models that may prove inadequate for supporting a nationwide transition to NG9-1-1. Today's legacy 9-1-1 call-taking equipment can look like cutting-edge technology when compared to some of the out-of-date funding models used to pay for 9-1-1 services. In some jurisdictions, for instance, landlines may be charged at a much higher rate of perhaps several dollars each, than cell phones at 50 cents each. While some state and local governments are beginning to address this disparity, it's easy to see how budget deficits can occur with landline use generally decreasing.
Further compounding funding concerns, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Third Annual Report to Congress on State Collection and Distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 Fees and Charges, found that seven states used 9-1-1 fees for non-9-1-1 purposes in 2010. While this was a decline from the 13 states reported the prior year, it highlights the fact that 9-1-1 funding isn't always secure. This makes it even harder to effectively plan and implement the near- and long term investments needed to make NG9-1-1 a reality.
Citizen expectations, the technology revolution and the unmet needs of first responders mean that NG9-1-1 can't arrive fast enough and work is taking place in such places as the Department of Transportation, the FCC the National 9-1-1 Office, and on multiple levels throughout the public safety community to bring it to life. However, unless the policy and fiscal guidance required for a smooth national transition to NG9-1-1 is in place, this exciting future will come to pass in a staggered, delayed and fragmented fashion. We'll see some PSAPs quickly realize the benefits of a next generation system, while underfunded PSAPs will continue to make do with their outdated technology. Recognizing this possibility, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has announced a five-step action plan with step four specifically outlining the requirement for the FCC to "develop an NG911 Funding Model focused on the cost-effectiveness of the NG911 network infrastructure linking PSAPs and carriers…"
While there are hurdles from a technology standpoint to implement a new cutting-edge 9-1-1 system in PSAPs nationwide, they can be overcome. The real challenge then is to secure adequate and ongoing funding aimed at upgrading and maintaining PSAP infrastructure in step with technological progress, so that all citizens and first responders alike have access to critical services and information. Be an active part in this process and let your voice and expertise be heard. Watch for opportunities to provide your feedback to the FCC and others.
Jerry Theuns is a Product Manager for NG9-1-1 Solutions for Motorola Solutions.
Countless articles have been written with advice on becoming "greener" – more eco-friendly at home and at work. We’ve all heard about the impact of changing from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents (CFLs), turning our thermostats up in the summer and down in the winter, driving more fuel-efficient cars, telecommuting and recycling everything we can.
Here are a few thoughts on ways to make your organization more eco-friendly that you might not have heard or thought of before.
First of all, do you need help convincing management or employees that environmental sustainability is important? What are your customers saying?
Several years ago, we started tracking how many customer requests for proposals (RFPs) or requests for quotes (RFQs) contained a "green" question. Ten years ago, we’d get two or three per year, typically along the lines of "Please indicate you comply with all environmental laws." Today we get two to three per day, and the questions go into considerable specific detail. Creating a graph to show the number of requests over time – even just a few years – will be powerful evidence of customer interest.
Company management can show employees and visitors that it cares about the environment by providing reserved parking for electric or hybrid vehicles. Companies with a multi-building campus may provide bicycles for people to travel between buildings. Motorola Solutions transitioned mowed grass lawns to native landscape, which saved gasoline from lawnmowers and provided wildlife habitat.
Electrical power savings offer a huge opportunity for most companies. Not only is reduction in electricity use good for the environment, it also cuts costs. Motion-activated lighting in conference rooms, lavatories and other occasionally used spaces will reduce electricity use, as will being certain that personal computer energy savings modes are implemented company-wide.
One of the biggest savings we’ve seen came from a transition from nighttime to daytime cleaning of our facilities. We started this program in 2008 in Schaumburg, followed by other major facilities. Previously, the cleaning crew came in after hours, with daytime support for heavy-use areas. Much of each facility was illuminated for 6 hours per night. After switching to daytime cleaning, some custodial staff was added during daytime hours. We scheduled noisy activities such as vacuuming in the early morning hours. Upright vacuums with long power cords were a tripping hazard for employees, so we switched to battery-powered backpack vacs with a HEPA filter for air quality. When required, shampooing, vinyl floor buffing and any noisy tasks are still done at night, but areas are illuminated one-by-one. By transitioning to daytime cleaning, our cost savings in electricity was about $250,000 annually. There was also a 10 percent savings in janitorial services based on fewer supervisors needed.
On this journey to make your organization more eco-friendly, be humble, but let your stakeholders know how you’re doing. How hard is it to find your environmental sustainability story on your website? Rolling your cursor over "About Us" on our homepage allows one click on "Environment" to get to our page.
In the end, it will not be one action that makes your organization more eco-friendly. After all, it is a journey, not a destination. The sum of many actions, along with culture change, will propel any organization on a path towards greater sustainability.
Don Bartell is Senior Director of Corporate Sustainability for Motorola Solutions, Inc. Read additional blogs by Don Bartell here; or visit Motorola's environmental website for more on our green initiatives.
We have seen how communications and the capability to access information at an instant’s notice can transform lives – from providing better customer service in department stores with tablets to connecting two people living on opposites sides of the world. For public safety, communications is critically important, as it allows police officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel to make split-second decisions that ultimately help save lives.
Within recent weeks, the BayRICS Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and San Francisco Board of Supervisors both approved the BayWEB program, which will be one of the first next generation public safety 4G LTE networks in the nation. What does this mean? Public safety is about to transform for the San Francisco Bay Area.
The positive vote on BayWEB paves the way for Motorola Solutions to advance the successful implementation of a fast and reliable broadband network that provides true interoperable communications for Bay Area first responders. BayWEB will change how police, fire, and other emergency services agencies do their jobs and communicate in emergency situations. The goal is to increase real-time situational awareness so that each member of the team has a unique perspective on the crisis situation and can collect and share information.
For instance, some first responders are still using 19.2 kilobit per second data systems, but a 4G/LTE network can provide an average of 4-5 megabits. A helicopter will be able to take video of a crime scene and, in real-time, send that video to the first responders onsite. Concurrently, the mission control and command center can immediately send building plans and tactical plans to first responders as they make decisions regarding the coordinated response. This collaborative effort makes it possible for everyone on the team to have an important role as a real-time communicator. Arming our first responders with this prompt access in those critical moments will revolutionize the way they operate and provide citizens with a safer community.
Some may ask why there is a need to create a dedicated network for public safety. If you have ever experienced a "network busy" signal during an NFL game where thousands of people are sending the game-winning video and photos, imagine public safety personnel experiencing the same problem when responding to an incident, particularly when lives are at stake. It’s dangerous and compromises the safety of officers and communities. By having a private network, public safety officials will no longer need to compete with citizens for bandwidth and can concentrate on addressing the situation at hand, versus whether they have access to the mission critical information.
The success of this program is crucial as other cities are looking at San Francisco as a blueprint for a possible nationwide fabric of interoperable public safety broadband network. The BayWEB program will serve as a model and a key driver for the build-out of similar public safety broadband networks throughout the United States.
While there is much work to be done over the next 12 months as we work to complete this next generation LTE network, it is a key step toward a vision of transforming public safety through broadband innovation that delivers new and unprecedented benefits to the public safety community.
Debora Courtright is Vice President of North America Government Markets for Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Learn more about Public Safety LTE at www.motorolasolutions.com/publicsafetylte.
We had the opportunity to attend the International Forum Design, or iF, award ceremony held at BMW World in Munich, Germany.
Now in its 59th year, iF recognizes excellence in product design in a variety of categories and is considered by many to be the "Academy Awards" of the global design world. More than 1,600 people were in attendance at the reception and ceremony, which involved design, business, and government leaders from around the world.
Located adjacent to the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, the newly completed BMW World is a spectacular architectural monument dedicated to the art and science of engineering and design. Few other venues in the world could compare to such a fitting backdrop for a celebration of excellence in design. Although I have to add – it was really cold for us from the Florida delegation!
The iF competition has always appealed to us as developers of mission critical communication devices due to its equitable judging philosophy. Whether an entry is a cleverly designed furniture caster, a function-driven water supply valve, a massive grain harvester, or a fashionable porcelain tableware set, it is judged on its own merits and how it improves the lives of end users. Motorola Solutions has been recognized with several iF awards for various products over the years.
Best of the Best
The top honor is the iF Gold Award. This year, 100 gold awards were given from a field of 4,322 entries from 48 countries. Such diverse products as the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG roadster, Apple iPad2, and Shimano XTR mountain bike pedals were recognized with Gold awards for their excellence in Design and execution. You can view all of the 2012 winning iF entries, including gold winners, here.
Mariah Levitt, senior design researcher, and I were delighted to be invited to the podium to accept a first-ever iF Gold Award for Motorola Solutions and the newly released APX XE Remote Speaker microphone. iF Managing Director Ralph Wiegmann presented the trophy to us as Frauke Ludowig, a popular German media personality, shared the jury's reaction to the XE RSM with the audience:
"Green as grass and extremely robust, this speaker-microphone was developed especially for firefighter communication. With its bright color and meaty design, this product signals what it is needed for. An extreme color for extreme situations."
Ever since we developed the functional "Impact Green" color for our fire-specific devices, we've mused that it might be an effective way to capture the attention of design juries lost in an endless sea of black, and near-black, products. As evidenced by the previous award success of the APX XE series radios and now this APX XE RSM, the juries seem to be responding.The main factor contributing to this success, however, lies beneath that
Impact Green exterior. Development teams worked long and hard to enable the design of this device to remain intact and true to our original research findings and design intent. We are honored to receive this award for Motorola Solutions and we recognize the incredible efforts invested by the Motorola accessory team to make it possible.
The XE RSM will be displayed along with all other Gold winning entries in the BMW Museum through the month of March, as well as at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany. Motorola Solutions is now eligible to use the exclusive iF Gold identification in advertising and promotion for the product. Companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of good design as a strategic differentiator. Awards such as this validate that need.
Congratulations again to all of the team members that made the APX XE RSM a design success. Now it's time for us to get back to work on the next winner!
Scott Richards is Senior Manager of Industrial Design for ASTRO Radio Products at Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Read another blog about design innovation by Scott Richards here.