The chaos of a raging fire. The complexity of a multi-agency response. The need to make quick on-scene decisions as the situation unfolds. In the heat of the action, coordination is critical. At any moment, an incident commander needs to know which firefighters are battling the blaze, what task each one is doing, where they are located, how long they’ve been working and what their personal health status is: Are they OK?
Yet many will tell you while battling a fire where every second matters, they are inundated with tasks, distractions and information from many disparate sources – all of which can impact their decision-making. Even more daunting is keeping track of firefighters so they don’t get lost, injured, placed in a dangerous situation, or worse. It’s a main reason why personnel accountability systems are one of the most important safety measures on the fireground today.
Until recently, accounting for the firefighters on scene didn’t help organize the onslaught of information. They merely told you if a firefighter was in the fire or outside of it, using manual tools such as tag boards.
Today's accountability solutions integrate better roll call tools, Personnel Accountability Reports (PAR), timers that indicate when a company arrives on scene and evacuation notifications. These types of capabilities on a simple, easy-to-use tool are helping incident commanders improve their effectiveness, coordinate responses and command the fireground.
Simple commands such as "roll call alerts" and "Mayday assistance" can now be automated, significantly reducing cycle time on PAR checks. For example, with Motorola's accountability solution, when a roll call alert goes out on an APX™ radio, each firefighter hears a tone request and presses the push-to-talk (PTT) button to acknowledge. The incident commander receives a confirmation of who has acknowledged the roll call and who has not. If a firefighter does not acknowledge the alert, it may mean there is a problem and help can be sent.
For the thousands of firefighters who put themselves on the line each year, having a way to automate the accounting of all personnel on the fireground can be a lifesaver – in the moments that matter.
Mike Petersen is Director of ASTRO Subscriber Product Management at Motorola Solutions.
Read a past blog on firefighter safety by Mike Petersen here.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, as proclaimed by President Obama. Cyber security only exists if our personnel, our organizations and our institutions are aware of the threats and take steps to secure our infrastructure.
We might know that threats exist in the abstract. But we need to make a cultural shift when it comes to IT security. Threats are everywhere, and a successful attack can have a substantial impact on the operational, managerial and financial integrity of an organization. For many organizations, though, the loss of public trust from a security breach may be far more detrimental.
In many of today’s networks, the concept of stand-alone devices is outdated. Technology convergence between communication and IT networks is improving operational capability while simultaneously introducing vulnerabilities and creating a need for stronger security. Converged networks create a web of interconnection, which means that a security breach could have a wider impact than it might have on a closed network. This convergence is evident in both public safety and enterprise networks, where the intersection of voice and data is giving rise to all kinds of new devices, operating systems, apps and tools – many mission-critical and, in many instances, interdependent.
The possibilities for good are endless. But, we should recognize that the possibilities for mayhem in the absence of security awareness are increasing almost as fast.
So during National Cyber Security Awareness Month, let’s raise our focus on security and recognize that although we may continue to add layers of protection, awareness remains key because it addresses both the technologies deployed and the behavior of the people who use them. The number of potential vulnerabilities is exploding. IT departments have to somehow protect each and every avenue of attack. The bad guys only have to find one way in to compromise a network.
Bruce Brda is senior vice president, Global Solutions and Services, Motorola Solutions.
Watch now: Managing the Complexity of Securing Networks.
Did you ever try to make a model rocket kit? Remember those? You’d follow the complicated instructions (never could figure out the booster) for the glory of shooting your creation into the atmosphere. Imagine how much easier those tricky rocket kits would have been had the instructions been on a tablet instead of those flimsy manuals. Getting the decals to stick in the right place would have been a lot easier if there was a video showing how to do it correctly. Even still, looking away from what you’re doing to see the video on the tablet would have proved distracting. And considering the fact that this was a rocket, not looking at your work might have been potentially dangerous.
Don’t worry, this isn’t another hobby blog. Just imagine that instead of rockets you launched from your backyard, you were working on an actual rocket. Or maybe something slightly less complex like fixing an engine. And imagine that this task is very complicated, so much so that you not only need to reference documents and manuals, but you need to speak with someone, too. Big deal, right? Bring up the materials you need on your tablet and dial your contact on your smartphone. Of course you’ve just doubled your devices, and even if you have a large screen smartphone, you’d still have to find a place to put it so you could see it clearly. And even after that, you’d have to reach up and touch the tablet or smartphone to change documents, let alone find a new one. Hands-free? Hardly.
What you need is a computer with a screen you can see without turning your head. You need a device that allows you to keep your eyes on your work.
The answer is a headset computer. It’s useful for people in the field who need to be completely hands-on with their equipment. Of course, to be truly innovative, it would need to provide wireless, hands-free access to data, video and voice, and be flexible enough to be used in different industries that require the use of the hands.
Whether it’s fixing machines, helping civilians or treating patients, a head-mounted mobile computer would need to be an adaptable enough device to add real value and assistance. A few examples include avionics technicians who would need to be able to repair military aircraft and update electronic sub-systems while simultaneously reading field manuals, law enforcement specialists running scenario-based training simulations who would have better experiences in responsive, dynamic virtual environments, and emergency medics who would need to view procedural videos while linking with remote surgeons to deliver onsite trauma care.
Motorola Solutions has developed such a headset computer. The HC1 can do what its users need it to do. This mobile device is a practical form of a wearable computer that can be used in many field situations by businesses and government organizations.
The HC1 uses simple voice commands and head gesture controls. It has a virtual 15-inch display, which lets you see the “screen” without turning your head. This allows a telephone lineman to access a repair manual while working high up a telephone pole, a field technician to pan, zoom and scroll through specifications and diagrams, and an engineer to connect with a remote expert over a WAN gateway. More robust data and detailed content can be accessed, helping to increase productivity and efficiency. And if you really wanted to, you could certainly use it to help your niece build a sweet rocket to launch from the backyard.
You can see more of the HC1 Headset Computer from Motorola Solutions here.
Nicole Daphne Tricoukes is the Senior Maverick, Office of the CTO, Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Interoperability is a hot topic in the healthcare industry. Check any emerging trends list of topics in healthcare, and interoperability is sure to be a top contender. Yet the word has so many loose interpretations, and it is often hard to determine what healthcare stakeholders mean when using the term. What does interoperability mean when it comes to the continuum of healthcare, and how does it affect the quality of care?
The HIMSS Integration and Interoperability Steering Committee defines interoperability as "the ability of health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities."
Furthermore, interoperability within healthcare can be broken into four categories: patient safety at the point of care, operational efficiency within the healthcare staff, secure communications and seamless connectivity. Across each of these categories, the ultimate goal is to improve outcomes, align to the strategic plan of the healthcare environment and build best practices for quality improvement and measurement.
For first responders, secure and seamless communications is a must. Imagine the chaos of an emergency medical technician (EMT) trying to call in the details of a patient en route to the hospital without the ability to securely and seamlessly communicate with the hospital staff ready to receive the patient in the emergency room. In this case, interoperability breaks through the traditional four walls of the healthcare environment and extends to the on-the-scene responses and communications needed to provide exceptional patient care.
Inside the Hospital
One crucial part of quality healthcare is superior asset and material management. From the surgeon who needs access to the proper inventory of surgical equipment to the nurse who needs to accurately document the collected patient vitals, patients' safety at the point of care is greatly affected by interoperability and the healthcare providers’ ability to track and manage assets.
At the Clinic
Operational efficiency is extremely relevant at the clinical level. Clinics see hundreds of patients every day and therefore must master the skill of workflow management. Clinical staffs demand a tightly knit communications channel that seamlessly communicates information from the patient to the healthcare provider and ultimately to the medical records. Interoperability plays a fundamental role in every step of the clinical process.
With the plethora of mobile communication devices – both personal and worker-issued, healthcare systems struggle to protect patient data in order to comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations while sharing that data with caregivers across the continuum of care. As the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and Health Information Exchange (HIE) standards evolve, they will further pressure IT staff to address this dichotomy of protecting and sharing patient data.
Furthermore, as facilities chase federal funding and race to adopt technology, they should consider a mobility strategy that aligns with their strategic plan. This strategy should lift tactical projects such as Electronic Medical Records (EMR), Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) and staff communications out of their separated project statuses and into a consistent mobility strategy that reaches beyond the four walls and out into the community. Aligning to the strategic plan will envelop the quality of patient interaction at the point of care (POC), regardless of where that care occurs. Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) is not just another lofty acronym; it can be achieved with a mobility strategy that supports POC caregivers wherever they are and interacts with patients in the community.
Vivian J. Funkhouser is Global Healthcare Solutions Principal with Motorola Solutions, Inc.
In the movie Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood pointed his empty .44 Magnum handgun at a bank robber and said "You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?" If you’ve procrastinated too long on narrowbanding your radio system, you’re probably asking yourself the question: “What happens if I don’t meet the January 1, 2013 deadline?” Your luck won’t keep your system on the air if you’re operating in the wideband mode next year. The FCC is getting ready to pull the trigger on violators of the new rules and they’re not bluffing.
Here are three questions VHF and UHF license holders are asking about the approaching deadline. The answers show that good, bad, and ugly things can happen depending on which actions you take.
Will the FCC Really Enforce Narrowbanding?
David Furth, the Deputy Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, means business. At the APCO conference in August he said “Let me reiterate what the commission has said all along: We are not moving the narrowbanding deadline. It is, and will be, Jan. 1, 2013.” He also mentioned the “commission’s intent to aggressively enforce the narrowband mandate.”
Aggressive enforcement doesn’t mean an FCC agent will be knocking at your door when you wake up on New Year’s Day. But the Commission has said it will audit their database sometime after the deadline to identify the VHF and UHF license holders who haven’t switched to narrowband operation. Are you planning to rely on your luck next year and hope the FCC doesn’t catch up with you? If you’re superstitious at all, ignoring the narrowbanding mandate could bring you worse luck than walking under a ladder on Friday the 13th.
What Are the Penalties For Non-Compliance?
The FCC’s enforcement advisory published in August 2012 is very clear – you can be fined a fistful of dollars if you’re operating in the wideband mode in 2013. The document states “Penalties for non-compliance may include license revocation and/or monetary forfeitures of up to $16,000 for each such violation or each day of a continuing violation, and up to $112,500 for any single act or failure to act.”
Getting fined is bad but having your license cancelled is really ugly. Your system might be shut down and your channel could be reassigned to another agency or business. That lucky rabbit’s foot you carry won’t prevent the FCC from penalizing you if you’re non-compliant.
I’ve Decided to Stop Procrastinating – What Should I Do Now?
Here’s the good news – you’re not too late to dodge the enforcement bullet. You still have until the end of this year to reprogram your existing equipment and purchase new radios to bring your system into compliance. If you’re not sure of the next steps to take, look at the narrowbanding resources on the Motorola Solutions Web site.
If you can’t finish the transition to narrowband technology by the end of this year, you can apply to the FCC for a waiver. This waiver is an extension, not an exemption. When you apply for an extension from the IRS, you get extra time to work on your return. The extension doesn’t waive your obligation to pay your income taxes. If you have a VHF or UHF license, you’re still required to narrowband. The waiver just gives you more time to comply with the rules.
Deputy Chief Furth said in August, “In order to obtain a waiver, you need to make a timely request — that means now, if you have not filed a waiver. I cannot overemphasize that waiver requests that are filed at the 11th hour before the deadline will be viewed with skepticism and are very likely not to be granted.”
Go Ahead, Take Action Now!
The 11th hour Mr. Furth refers to is almost here. If your narrowbanding won’t be completed by the end of December, you need to request a waiver now. The FCC’s waiver guidance public notice has instructions on how to apply for an extension to the deadline. You need to show the progress you’ve made so far, and tell the FCC when you’ll comply with the new rules. If you submit a detailed plan by the end of October, you have a chance of getting your extension granted. But if you turn in your request on Christmas Eve, all of your lucky pennies, horseshoes, and four-leaf clovers won’t likely help get your waiver approved.
So with all of the excitement of the approaching deadline, don’t lose track of the time. You’ll be subject to fines and license revocation if you keep procrastinating. If your waiver request is approved, or your system is in compliance by the end of December, you won’t need good luck charms to keep your system on the air in 2013. Go ahead and take action now – it will make your day.
Rick Pollak is a Business Development Manager for Motorola Solutions, Inc.
For most consumers, recycling is a way of life. We collect our newspapers, cardboard, metal and glass items, and put them out on the scheduled pick-up day. We return our empty beverage containers when we do our weekly grocery shopping. There are even programs that let us safely recycle unused prescription medicines.
But for companies with old or non-used equipment, things aren’t always that straightforward. This is where product “take-back” programs take charge. Sponsored by a multitude of companies, these programs provide customers with a convenient and cost-effective way to dispose of old and obsolete equipment which helps the customer protect the environment, as well as meet government guidelines.
Take-back programs are generating impressive results. And we at Motorola Solutions are proud to be a part of it. In 2011, for example, Motorola Solutions collected more than 100 tons of electronic equipment waste (e-waste) for recycling, with a significant part of that amount resulting from our North America Product Take-back Program. We designed our program to make it easy for customers to recycle retired radios, mobile computers, scanners and infrastructure equipment. All that a customer needs to do is submit an online request. Then, Motorola’s recycling partner contacts them to schedule a pick up or to tell them where to send the equipment. And, once the equipment is received, the customer can access the site to download a Certificate of Destruction for their records and for compliance with federal, state and local regulations. It’s that simple.
Customers are responding very positively to the program. Many have expressed a thankfulness that Motorola offers the program, as they want to be environmentally responsible, but aren’t sure how to get started. Our program gives them a jump-start on their own efforts by providing a simple way to dispose of their old e-waste at little to no cost to them.
In addition to the strides we are making with e-waste, we are also making headway in all types of recycling. Check out some of these numbers from our 2011 worldwide sustainability efforts:
In another example, in early 2012, we collected approximately 21.9 tons of e-waste in five weeks, recycled 13.25 tons of cardboard in a single month and recycled 16.2 tons of white paper in a single day from a single location.
Recycling is just one part of Motorola Solutions’ environmental efforts. Our sustainability journey is comprised of three parallel paths: designing and building products that are more environmentally friendly; running our own operations to minimize our carbon footprint; and helping our customers to reduce their environment. To find out more about our programs and to learn more about environmental issues, visit http://responsibility.motorolasolutions.com/
Jodi Shapiro is Vice President, Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) for Motorola Solutions, and is responsible for the company’s global EHS efforts, which encompass: protecting the environment, safety and health of company employees; compliance and audit functions; environmental remediation; regulatory intelligence; and supply chain corporate responsibility.