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      • 3 Reasons Cops Shouldn't Rely on Consumer Smartphones

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:16 PM by Motorola Solutions

        You wouldn't send officers on patrol in the family minivan. You wouldn't ask them to respond to a riot with a trashcan lid and a football helmet. Your Crime Scene Unit wouldn't go into the field with a junior-high chemistry set. Yet every day, thousands of police officers go on patrol with the same smartphone as their teenage daughters.

        It's certainly cheaper, but it can be very costly. Here's why:

        1. Consumer phones are not built for everyday street use. It's long been said: "If you want to break something, give it to a cop." Police officers are as tough on their equipment as their job is tough on them. They need equipment that can survive cold, heat, rain, dust, and being dropped. A consumer cell phone is great at falling birds; it's not so great after falling to the sidewalk.
        2. A lost phone is a gateway into your network. Actually, breaking from a fall is not the worst thing that can happen to an officer's smartphone. Far worse is if it lies there, still working. Police officers keep lots of sensitive data on private phones: from names, addresses and photos of family members (or informants!), to emails and sensitive department documents. What happens if the officer can't find it again? Who will find it? How will they use the information on the device? Tracking a lost consumer phone is very difficult; locking down its information, nearly impossible.
        3. Just when you need it most …..the call fails. Have you ever tried using your cell phone in a huge crowd, like at a football game? Sometimes it's nearly impossible to get a signal: thousands of people in a small area, all competing for a limited slice of wireless bandwidth. Consumer networks are likely to be saturated at precisely the time law enforcement needs reliable access. A fight breaks out at a crowded beach, dozens of people whip out their cell phones to stream video to their friends – and suddenly, no bandwidth is available for responding officers.

        Police officers often require the power and versatility of smartphones to effectively do their job, but they need them to be rugged, managed and secure data devices with a network that doesn't quit when lives are on the line. That's why we built the LEX 700 Mission Critical Handheld. For more information, check out a quick demo of the LEX 700 handheld device. And leave the trashcan lid at home.

        Ryan Seick is Motorola Solutions Product Manager for the LEX 700 Mission Critical Handheld.

        Read about how the LEX 700's design evolved, and explore additional Fresh Ideas in Public Safety here.

      • Walking Off a Narrowbanding Hero

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:16 PM by Motorola Solutions

        Even if you're not a baseball fanatic like me, I bet you've seen video of Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run in the 1988 World Series. As Kirk pumped his fist while hobbling around the bases, the announcers shouted "I don't believe what I just saw!" and "the impossible has happened!" But this famous home run in fact wasn't all that unbelievable or impossible. The Los Angeles Dodgers did something months before the series to give their team an advantage. They did the same thing you need to do now, before the ninth inning of your narrowbanding implementation is over.

        Here's a quick rundown on how thinking outside the batter's box can keep everyone on your team safe once the FCC narrowbanding deadline arrives on January 1, 2013.

        As Sure as I'm Standing Here Breathing

        The Dodgers were losing 4 – 3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Gibson pinch hit against Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics, the best closer in the game that year. The first two pitches were strikes, but Gibson hung in there and worked the count to three balls and two strikes. Kirk then stepped out of the batter's box and said to himself, "As sure as I'm standing here breathing, Eckersley's going to throw me a backdoor slider on a 3 – 2 count." Gibson stepped back in and pulled the next pitch into the right field stands of Dodger Stadium for a game-winning home run.

        Why was he so sure what the next pitch would be?

        Scouting the Other Teams

        During the regular season, the Dodgers' scouts studied the top teams in the American League, including the Oakland A's. They compiled a book on what every man on each team's roster did in different game situations. Mel Didier, one of their most experienced scouts, analyzed every pitch Eckersley threw during the season and when he briefed the team before the series, told them "As sure as I'm standing here breathing, you're gonna see a 3 – 2 backdoor slider from Eckersley if you get in that situation." Gibson remembered the exact words of Mel's advice. Kirk was sure the next pitch would be a slider instead of a fastball because of situational awareness.

        Situational awareness is what first responders, public service, and commercial radio users need to help them make informed split-second decisions. When it comes to critical radio communications, scouting interoperability and roaming situations in advance could determine the success of your mission. Having an up-to-date scouting report may make the difference between hitting it out of the park and striking out with the game on the line.

        Don't Let Narrowbanding Throw You a Curveball

        If you work with other radio users in your area, you need to designate someone in your lineup to scout the other teams. Your neighbors may be switching their radio networks from analog to digital (see Narrowbanding and the Two-Party System), or they could be relocating their system to another frequency band. It's up to you to determine if a neighboring town made a deal last month to trade their old wide-band conventional equipment for a trunked system to be installed later. You should have backup radio equipment on your bench to get you out of a jam in case a new situation throws you a curveball.

        Keeping Your Team Safe at Home and Away

        Maintaining interoperable communications during the final innings of narrowbanding isn't unbelievable or impossible if you're prepared. You need to designate someone to think outside the box of your home network and look at other venues. Accurate information will give your team the situational awareness they need to be safe at home and away. If you need help, we hope you look at the resources on Motorola's Narrowbanding Web site.

        If you do your advance scouting and keep your information up-to-date, as sure as I'm standing here breathing, you'll walk off a hero.

        Rick Pollak is a Business Development Manager for Motorola Solutions, Inc.

        Read Narrowbanding and the Two-Party System and other blogs on Narrowbanding by Rick Pollak now.

      • Serving Public Safety's Demand for Data

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:16 PM by Motorola Solutions

        Wireless data is exploding around every corner. So what does this mean for public safety agencies? Data is becoming just as critical as voice to doing the job of protecting lives and property.

        In fact, a Motorola survey found that 89 percent of public safety professionals said data is just as important as voice. There's a need for ultra-reliable broadband networks, applications and devices to deliver real-time information to the men and women serving as our country's first responders. This means solutions that are built from the ground up for public safety, not consumer-grade products using consumer-grade applications.

        We know that public safety agencies rely on purpose-built mission critical communication systems and devices to stand up to the rigors of their work – like a firefighter entering a burning building or a police officer situated on watch in a back alley. As the wireless world moves to broadband technology, we are building public safety-grade LTE networks and finding ways to interoperate and interconnect our P25 mission critical voice systems for a holistic public safety-grade communication network, including a portfolio of right-built devices.

        Before building the next generation broadband handheld device, the LEX700, we went out and talked to firefighters and police officers, detectives and administrators to understand the requirements. They told us it needs to provide media-intense applications, have a shared view and provide up-to-the-minute location information. It needs to help with daily activities like report writing, and it needs to interoperate with the P25 voice system. It needs to be a virtual partner for my radio.

        So as mobile broadband data becomes a reality for public safety agencies, helping them to do their job better, there will be public safety-grade devices such as the LEX 700 to connect first responders, share information and collaborate, and be ready for the street when the unexpected happens.

        Darren McQueen is Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Wireless Private Broadband and iDEN Products and Solutions for Motorola Solutions.

        To learn more, view the "The Art and Science of Mission Critical Design" video.
        Explore our archives of Fresh Ideas in Public Safety blogs.

      • 4 Steps to Designing Devices with Innovation in Mind

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:16 PM by Motorola Solutions

        Innovation and design research is a very structured process, consisting of four phases: baseline research, generative research, product definition and validation research.


        During the product definition phase, engineers and designers create a research toolkit using block models and early conceptual designs to see how well they suit the needs of the users. Take the product tour to see the results in detail.

        Motorola Solutions has years of experience in meeting the needs of the public safety community, developing radios and other tools to meet their unique requirements. So the first step – baseline research – lets us understand what we already know as an organization by collecting our relevant internal knowledge before we reach out to our customers.

        For our generative research phase, we immerse ourselves in the end user’s routines – for example, a police officer’s routine, to understand every aspect of their role, their concerns and opportunities. We organized meetings and site visits and met with a number of police officers and decision-makers to hear their feedback.

        I was involved in the research team that developed the LEX700 Mission Critical Handheld Device. The research team was able to observe work environments and see how patrol officers carry and manage devices. Rather than just focusing on device features, we studied device deployment, management and usage – all issues critical to developing the right end-to-end solution for public safety agencies. Officers shared their real-life experiences and explained how situations can get especially dangerous when they are away from their vehicles without critical pieces of information violent nature of a potential suspect that can potentially determine life or death. We then talked about must-have portable capabilities of an ideal public safety device.

        To help us define the right product solution during the product definition phase, the team used a research toolkit consisting of block models and early concepts (see image above). This allowed end users to consider their new device’s form factor as well as features and functionality. Some officers said it was critical to have a compact and light device since there was absolutely no space to put any additional items on their belt. Other officers said it was more important to view information as easy as possible hence the device needed to have a maximized display size. Officers were able to better articulate their thinking with these toolkit models in hand, and the research team learned critical factors that influenced the final device.

        Finally, during the course of the product development process, the research team continually validated development decisions with key customers (validation research). In addition, our human factors team ran usability tests with officers from the field to ensure that both product design decisions and software user interface decisions were meeting the final solution needs.

        This deep understanding of the officers' critical information needs and their daily routine, as well as challenges and opportunities, allowed us to identify opportunities for innovation in the development of the LEX 700 handheld device.

        SunMee Kim is Manager of Business Innovation Research for Motorola Solutions, Inc.

        Explore the LEX 700 in more detail here, and see the video about the design process here.