As Thanksgiving approaches, I can’t help but remember one of the funniest calls we received when I was managing a 3-1-1 Call Center in Windsor, Ontario.
We had a citizen call for instructions on how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. While this certainly wasn’t a typical 3-1-1 call, it was intriguing. I recall the operator sharing how she provided general instructions on ensuring the turkey was cooked to the proper temperature and was safe to consume. Our citizen’s question was satisfactorily answered.
While “how to cook a turkey” is an odd request of your local city, the fact of the matter is that citizens are asking local government to do more, and do it quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. Citizens are demanding more access and accountability from local government, too.
Since its inception in Baltimore in October of 1996, “3-1-1” has quickly grown in popularity. Today millions of people across the United States and Canada know to dial 3-1-1 to get help with non-emergency problems in their community, ranging from burned-out traffic lights to graffiti in parks to an annoying dog barking next door.
In cities that have implemented 3-1-1 – such as Baltimore, Chicago, Austin and Calgary – the number of calls to 9-1-1 have been substantially reduced, freeing up time for 9-1-1 operators to handle “real” emergencies. These cities have also implemented robust enterprise software systems to handle all the detailed business processes and workflow associated with handling such calls. Citizens can access 3-1-1 centers by phone, email, text, or even using downloadable mobile apps for their smartphones. Local government is more accessible than ever before.
These 3-1-1 call centers are also instrumental in providing non-emergency assistance to citizens during times of crisis and disaster. When Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast of the United States, numerous cities utilized their 3-1-1 call centers to direct secondary responders to assist residents with such issues as downed tree limbs, flooded streets, and safe shelters for evacuated homeowners and much more. In an Examiner.com article, “North Hempstead lays out recovery plan in aftermath of Superstorm Sandy”, Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman of North Hempstead, NY, talked about how their 3-1-1 system fielded 11,000 calls in the first three days after the storm with a variety of requests from shelter locations, to open gas stations to who to call to cut down a tree. The town’s 3-1-1 system was one of the few call centers up and responding to citizens 24 hours per day.
So the next time you have a question for your local government, whether it’s to find out when they are going to fix the swing at the local playground or cut down a limb from a fallen tree, contact 3-1-1. If you have a question about how to cook your turkey, you might want to try the Turkey Talk-Line®!
Tom Malanfant is a Senior Product Manager for Motorola Solutions and a former 211/311 Call Center Manager for the City of Windsor, Ontario.
Learn more about choices in providing 3-1-1 from Motorola Solutions.
Clones create tension and excitement in science fiction movies as we watch and wonder… which one is the original, and who's the copy? But clones in the real world can be a problem. In a P25 mission-critical system, you need to know with certainty exactly who has registered and is using your system.
Cloned radios pose a problem due to the way that the P25 standard requires radios to register as "users" on the system. All the system looks for is a valid Subscriber Unit Identity (SUID); then that radio unit is allowed to register and begin using system resources. Valid SUIDs can easily be obtained for any system by using inexpensive scanning equipment or by simply searching various websites dedicated to public safety radio.
So what exactly is a cloned radio? Quite simply, it is a P25-compliant subscriber unit that has been programmed to operate on a system with a legitimate SUID that belongs to a valid radio of that system. The issues posed by cloned radios can be broken down into three main threats:
To combat these threats, the Project 25 standards body has created the TIA102.AACE Link Layer Authentication Standard, which addresses the current issues and improves the registration process. Using a standard encryption algorithm, the standard adds a step in the registration process that forces the subscriber unit to answer a challenge. Only units that have been programmed with the correct encryption key will successfully answer the challenge and be allowed to register on the system. Advantages of the new P25 Link Layer standard are that it:
To make sure your radio system does not feel like a scary science fiction movie, leaving you wondering which radios are authorized and which are cloned, Motorola Solutions has developed a fully P25 TIA102.AACE standards compliant Radio Authentication solution that includes a robust registration process to remove the risk of service disruption from illegally cloned radios.
Michael Palmer is a Feature and Product Manager at Motorola Solutions.
Thankfully, officer fatalities are decreasing across the United States. According to recent reports, approximately 156 officers are killed in the line of duty each year. In the 1970’s, there were 230 line of duty deaths annually. While this is uplifting news for U.S. citizens and law enforcement, crime fighting is still a dangerous profession for law enforcement officers that serve and protect us, as recent incidents in New York have shown. More than 160 law enforcement officers gave their lives in 2011 alone. A total of 1,799 officers have died in the line of duty over the past decade, and even more have been injured.
We are all indebted to the brave men and women who wear the badge and walk the beat. For more than 84 years, Motorola Solutions has been committed to serving the U.S. law enforcement officers that keep our country safe. We believe that public awareness and remembrance help build safer cities and thriving communities. Offering our support to organizations that pay tribute to our fallen officers is one of the ways Motorola Solutions Foundation honors this commitment.
That is why the Motorola Solutions Foundation is proud to announce its most recent contribution to the National Law Enforcement Museum. The museum tells the story of American law enforcement through interactive exhibits, historical artifacts, research and interactive educational programming. The museum broke ground in 2010 and is scheduled to open in 2015. Over the next few years, the Foundation will contribute $10 million to support the museum’s construction and programming. In addition, Motorola Solutions is donating $5 million in product and services that will enhance and complement the communications, visitor experiences and staff capabilities at the museum.
The museum will provide access to a wealth of knowledge, history and conversation about law enforcement. Visiting schools, law enforcement officers and their families, as well as the general public will enjoy cutting-edge interactive exhibitions and state-of-the-art audio and visual programs that help tell the story law enforcement's past and present. The museum also will offer public forums for discussions, lectures and conferences, and conduct education programs. These events will chronicle the gripping accounts of the profession’s most defining moments in addition to offering in-depth research opportunities in law enforcement history and safety.
Today’s contribution continues a long-standing partnership between Motorola Solutions, the Motorola Solutions Foundation and the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund that dates back to 1988. Since that time, Motorola Solutions and the Foundation have contributed more than $18 million to support the memorial and museum’s educational programs.
Motorola Solutions partners with the law enforcement community not only through financial contributions, but also through public service. Many of our employees support law enforcement by volunteering with Community Emergency Response Teams, police athletic leagues and other philanthropic organizations.
I encourage you to visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s website to learn more about the museum and upcoming opportunities to donate time and resources to such a worthy cause. While officer deaths are decreasing, even one line of duty death or injury by the men and women who wear the badge is too many. This museum will help tell the story of law enforcement, educate the public on this important aspect of our society and hopefully inspire the next generation to answer the call.
In its report on how to protect the U.S. from future terrorist attacks, the 9-11 Commission recommended establishing a nationwide network dedicated to first responder communications. The report was issued eight years ago. Today, the board of the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, is in place and has started planning for the network that will enable first responders to better communicate with each other, improve response time and save lives.
At its first meeting in Washington last month, the FirstNet board reviewed concepts on the network’s design and applications for public safety. These are starting points for further discussions, and the board is seeking comment and input from those interested in the development of FirstNet.
The board includes 12 members who were appointed by the Acting Secretary of Commerce and will serve terms of one to three years. They are joined by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget who are permanent members of the board.
When the board was announced in August, Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank said, “Americans can’t wait any longer for effective emergency services that use available cutting-edge technology – it is part of what we need to support a 21st century economy that is built to last.”
I agree. Public safety needs a dedicated network with mobile broadband capabilities for applications that increase situational awareness, enhance tactical collaboration and enable greater in-field productivity, allowing first responders to remain available and visible to the communities they serve.
An effective and efficient way to begin deploying FirstNet would be for the board to support the completion of the public safety broadband systems that are already under way in certain localities and states.
These systems, which are partially funded by federal grants, were started in 2010 before Congress authorized the construction of FirstNet. However, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is part of the Commerce Department, temporarily suspended the projects earlier this year so the board could review them.
By allowing these local and state systems, as well as those being pursued by other jurisdictions, to continue moving forward and begin providing wireless broadband services to the public safety agencies in their communities, the board would gain valuable insight on deploying FirstNet. These systems would then be integrated into the nationwide network when it is operational.
FirstNet is certain to be a critical pillar of public safety communications infrastructure in the years ahead. However, the board needs to act deliberately, and in close coordination with state and local governments and other stakeholders, to develop a plan for the construction and deployment of the network, which our nation’s first responders urgently need.
Karen Tandy is senior vice president of Public Affairs at Motorola Solutions and is based in Washington, D.C.
In the past decade, the U.S. Army has been engaged primarily in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Throughout its 237-year history, the Army has worked to repair to fight large-scale wars. However, military leaders say the Army’s role is changing and that it will become increasingly focused on a wider and less predictable set of missions in the future.
This transition was the theme of the 2012 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition, which was held recently in Washington.
At a panel discussion on land warfare at the AUSA meeting, Lt. Gen. John F. Campbell, the Army's deputy chief of staff G-3/5/7, said homeland defense, cybersecurity, countering terrorism and deterring and defeating aggression are among the missions the Army will concentrate on in the years ahead.
“The Army has to perform a unique, broad set of roles and missions over this whole range of potential likely events,” Campbell said, according to an AUSA report. The Army also will perform these missions with a smaller force. During the next five years the size of the Army will be reduced from about 570,000 soldiers to 490,000.
Todd Harvey of the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Principal Director of Force Development, another AUSA panelist, said the cuts will require the Army to “stretch a shrinking force across at least as much mission as we've had to date.”
Advanced communications solutions will continue to play an integral part in supporting the Army, especially during this historic transition.
For example, two-way portable radios, which were introduced during World War II, remain essential for enhancing soldier safety and productivity. Today, two-way radios have advanced features that deliver full tactical and data capabilities with secure encrypted voice communications to support the mission wherever warfighters operate, whether in challenging geography or areas without networks.
Smartphones and tablets have also become an important component of the Army’s communications arsenal. New solutions are being introduced that overcome the security vulnerabilities found in the commercial versions of these devices that have previously impeded their adoption by the military.
Securing mobile devices will be essential as the military increases its adoption of data communications and related services, including mission-specific applications. This next generation of high-assurance devices will usher in a new era of collaboration for our armed forces.
And other innovations in mobile communications, including video, broadband, biometrics and RFID, will ensure that the management and deployment of multiple systems can provide solutions to any number of problems by securely connecting personnel, assets and data to support the variety and complexity of military operations.
As the Army continues its transition, communications will continue to provide soldiers with the information they need to make better, more informed decisions that will help them successfully accomplish their new missions.
Brett Kitchens focuses on the U.S. Federal Government Markets Division for Motorola Solutions.
Learn more about Motorola’s federal solutions here.