The future of LTE is very bright. The technologies and applications that are going to be possible are revolutionary and job changing; however, we are just not there yet. I have been watching LTE, and my big concern is that Congress, decision makers, managers and finance folks are all focusing on LTE. Some of them wonder why we are asking for additional funds to enhance, maintain and build out land mobile radio (LMR) systems when we are headed down this LTE path.
The two are distinctively different technologies – they serve distinctly different purposes. Someday they may converge, but we’re not there yet. I have a strong concern that people in decision-making positions and those that allocate funds don’t get it. At least for a certain period of time, you’re going to need both LMR and LTE.
LTE is a great data pipe, but it is missing key voice elements such as voice transmissions over LTE with public safety-grade reliability, conducting one-to-many voice transmissions and lastly and most importantly, voice transmissions conducted off-network. When there are coverage issues on a network or if a network failure occurs, an LTE device can’t connect and ceases to function as a communications tool. For emergency responders, this is not an acceptable situation. Traditional LMR systems are more flexible – they can fall back, talk unit to unit and continue to do the job.
According to a May 8 article in Public Safety Communications, state and local governments will have to continue paying for their existing LMR systems until broadband-based voice functions have been fully developed and proven reliable. According to a February 2012 Government Accountability Office report, that may take a decade or more.
The reality is that LTE voice technology is not mature yet. Not all public safety voice needs are met. I support a move in that direction because we need an integrated solution, but LTE is just not there yet. What can LTE do for public safety and what can it not do? It can provide a very large data pipe, but LTE currently cannot provide good voice management. Will it get there? I hope so, but until it does we need to maintain the basic safety of citizens and first responders for some time to come with traditional LMR systems.
Don Wright is Battalion Chief (retired) of the Glendale Fire Department, California, and President of Intelligent Communications Solutions Incorporated.
Read the Public Safety Communications article now: Communication Failure after Boston bombing reinforces network need.
The concept of safety is a powerful thing. Citizens expect to feel safe in their homes and out in the communities where they live. If there’s an emergency, we expect our call for help will always be answered and that police officers, firefighters or emergency medical technicians (EMTs) will arrive armed with the information we provided, even if it was a text with a photo or video attached. We all want to live, work and raise our families in safer cities. And we are not the only ones with expectations.
First responders expect secure access to the latest communications technology – technology we take for granted in our everyday lives – to help them work smarter and handle more tasks while they are on patrol or at the scene of a crime. In fact, 86 percent of respondents in a survey of U.S. government professionals are already using their own consumer-grade devices for work-related activities. To keep up with these challenges and the rapidly evolving operating environment, agencies need to build a strong mission critical foundation. One that helps them extract intelligence from existing and new sources of data, improve the way they work and make faster, smarter and safer decisions.
If they don’t? Studies show that a city’s economy can suffer significantly. And that’s something everyone can see. To keep officers informed and ready for what’s next takes visibility to what’s happening in the field at all times. It requires an architecture that makes it easy for public safety agencies to unify data sources, dynamically prioritize information and integrate broadband and radio networks. An operating environment that will help them deliver greater levels of service, safety and community prosperity.
Having that architecture means first responders will be armed with smart devices that bring real-time, often citizen-generated, information to their fingertips and better situational awareness so they can make fast, life-saving decisions. Firefighters’ progress can be monitored as they move through a burning building and their status continually verified with locationing and biometrics applications. And the public can instantly access services and systems to report and resolve community issues or say thanks for a job well done.
Sometimes it’s what we can’t see that makes a visible difference.
Alan Lopez is Director of Government Solutions Marketing for Motorola Solutions.
Learn more about the Mission Critical Operating Environment here.
Ron Siarnicki receives the Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award from Jim Estepp (left) of the Congressional Fire Service Institute and Domingo Herraiz of Motorola Solutions (right) at the award ceremonies in Washington, DC.
Mason Lankford was a career firefighter from Texas with a passion for making the fire and emergency service safer for the men and women who have worn the gear and responded to the call. In 1987, he was instrumental in persuading fellow Texan and then-House Speaker Jim Wright to support the idea of a Fire Caucus. Thanks to Lankford’s persistence and dedication, the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) was created in 1989. Today, CFSI continues to educate members of Congress about the needs and challenges of the nation's firefighters and emergency medical technicians, and to encourage the federal government’s continued support for the training and funding needed by first responders.
The Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award, sponsored by the CFSI and the Motorola Solutions Foundation, recognizes individuals who, like Lankford, have been proactive at the local, state or federal level to improve fire and emergency services and life-safety issues.
This year’s Lankford Award recipient: Chief Ron Siarnicki. Following a 24-year career with the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, Chief Siarnicki was named executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in 2001.
In this role with the Foundation, he conducted the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service in Emmitsburg, Md. Since becoming executive director, Siarnicki has expanded the Foundation’s work to include initiatives that address firefighter health and safety, as well as programs to help the survivors along on their difficult journeys. One of his many accomplishments was holding the 2004 National Firefighter Life Safety Summit, the first meeting of its kind, attended by representatives of the major fire service organizations. The culmination of the two-day event was the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives embraced by the national organizations to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in the fire service.
In Washington, Siarnicki has been an active leader on a number of federal initiatives, working closely with the major fire organizations, congressional leaders and administration officials. Many of his efforts have focused on the Public Safety Officers Benefit Program to ensure that the program is properly administered for survivors who file claims. He also has been actively involved in efforts to advance fire sprinkler initiatives and burn treatment research.
We salute Ron Siarnicki and the previous Lankford Award recipients for continuing the spirit of Mason Lankford with their own brand of leadership, perseverance and vision. Their legacies have profoundly impacted the fire service, as well as the health and safety of so many Americans who have been ably served by our nation’s fire and rescue services community.
Domingo Herraiz is Vice President of North American Government Affairs, Motorola Solutions Inc., and formerly the director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when personal and work lives were two separate things. A person worked at the office, went home, and usually had little to do with his or her employer until the next day. Since the advent of the home computer, the mobile phone, then telecommuting and social media, these lines have blurred. For better or for worse, our personal lives creep into our work, and we’re often working during our “off” hours. What many people don’t consider is the unprecedented security risk this poses to our employers. Our personal choices can impact the security of our organizations, and making the right choices can help deter attempts at theft and damage.
This is part one of a multi-part blog series.
There’s no question - social media has changed the world. There are nearly a billion active users of Facebook, and half a billion active Twitter users. Collectively, social networking websites store a massive amount of data about people. Much of this information is publicly visible. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other popular social networking websites provide privacy features that can restrict access to individuals’ information. Unfortunately, not everyone configures these features. The information we post publicly can pose a risk to our organizations and to ourselves, and nothing can be reliably erased once it’s posted to the internet.
First, let’s look at how social networking data can be used to make scams more believable. Many people are familiar with the concept of ”phishing” - scams sent via email. Imagine a phishing email specifically targeted to an individual or group. The term for this is ”spear phishing”. If Jane Hacker wants to trick you into clicking on an email attachment that contains a virus, or simply revealing your password, she will have significantly more success if she first researches your social networking profiles and identifies your interests, history, and connections. She can then tailor her emails to pique your interest, or to imitate a business or a colleague. A Trend Micro study showed that in 91% of targeted attacks, spear phishing was used to break into organizations’ networks. Be aware of the personal data you broadcast, and how it could be used to fool you.
Next, let’s consider the ‘security questions’ that are required for many accounts – for example, ‘birth date’, ‘mother’s maiden name’, or ‘favorite band’. Users must answer a combination of personal questions to access these accounts. Unfortunately, this security mechanism was developed before social networking was popular. If Jane Hacker is trying to access your account, she might find your birthday on your Amazon.com profile, your mother’s maiden name via your Facebook page, and (because Jane Hacker is rather clever), she might also note that you are following your favorite band on Twitter. Two-factor authentication is now offered by many providers as an alternate means to verify users’ identity. It is a smarter choice. Instead of relying on questions to which somebody else may find the answer, an external device such as your phone or a token is used to verify your identity.
Perhaps you avoid social sites like Facebook or Twitter altogether. What about LinkedIn? Online résumé websites are great tools for us to market our professional skills and network. However, they can also impact security. Let’s imagine that the maleficent Jane Hacker is planning to launch an attack against your organization’s network. She’ll need to evaluate what software, security, and systems are in use by your organization before she can begin. However, Jane Hacker is a bit lazy. She does a quick search on LinkedIn for technical, procurement, or management staff from your organization. Several of their résumés contain detailed descriptions of systems in use, as well as your organization’s processes and procedures. Now, Jane Hacker has less work to do.
Social networking has become an integral part of our society, but there are some important security considerations to keep in mind when we use it. First of all, limiting access to our social networking posts and profiles is key. If we post publicly, we need to be mindful about what we post. We should choose our account security questions carefully, and when possible, use two-factor authentication instead of relying on security questions. Finally, we should police the technical or operational details which we include in our online résumés. Keeping these things in mind can help better defend our organizations and ourselves.
Lesley Carhart is a Senior Information Security Specialist in the Motorola Solutions Security Operations Center. She has 13 years of experience in information technology, including computer networking and tactical communications. For the past five years, she has focused on security, specializing in digital forensics.
Read another blog by Lesley Carhart: Log Monitoring and Cyberthreat Detection.
As evidenced by the number of VHF and UHF public safety and industrial/business entities in the FCC ULS database that are still only licensed for 25 kHz operation, there are still many of you who are scrambling to get into compliance with the FCC narrowbanding mandate.
The Utilities Telecom Council will help its members through any outstanding narrowbanding compliance and implementation issues at its May 15-17 UTC Telecom 2013 Conference in Houston, Texas. I will be speaking at the UTC panel session “Narrowbanding: I Missed the Deadline. Now What?” Please join me on May 16, from 7:30 – 8:30 AM in Room 320AB at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The panel is moderated by Don Vasek, UTC Director of Spectrum Services, and joining me is Richard Donaldson, IT PMO Manager at Duke Energy.
The panel will address Duke Energy’s lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid in completing your system narrowbanding, possible FCC audit and enforcement considerations, frequency coordinator treatment of remaining non-compliant systems, and recommendations for resolving non-compliance and project completion issues. I will mainly address narrowband impact on manufacturers, what it means to you the licensee, and what to do if you still need to buy 25 kHz capable radios or multi-mode radios that have some exceptions to the FCC mandate.
In addition, there is a second regulatory-related panel session in which I am also speaking aimed at those of you interested in gaining access to 700 MHz public safety broadband communications. I invite you to attend “Mission Critical Readiness: Are You Prepared for the Public Safety Broadband Network?” on May 16, from 2:30 – 3:45 PM also in Room 320AB. Joining me on the panel is my Motorola colleague Jared Pickrell, Director of Engineering, Strategic Products, and John Chaney of Harris County Texas. Harris County is currently implementing an early deployment of the 700 MHz nationwide PSBN in the Harris County (Houston) area, and John will share what they are doing on network sharing. I will address last year’s legislation that enables critical infrastructure access, how the PSBN can leverage utilities infrastructure assets, plus how utilities can promote partnership opportunities. Jared will provide valuable insight on LTE and broadband applications for utilities, the energy worker of the future and multi-service, multi-use priority and access.
Al Ittner is Senior Manager of Spectrum Strategy at Motorola Solutions, Inc.
For more information about Narrowbanding, please visit www.motorolasolutions.com/narrowbanding.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is our nation's tribute to our heroic law enforcement professionals—men and women who vow to serve and protect us. Nearly 20,000 American peace officers have fallen in the line of duty, and they are forever remembered and honored at the National Memorial in Washington.
A special time to pay tribute to our law enforcement professionals is during National Police Week, which is celebrated this year from May 12 to 18. By a joint resolution on Oct. 1, 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-726, which declared May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the surrounding week as National Police Week, the annual tribute to law enforcement service and sacrifice.
This year, 321 names of officers who died in the line of duty were inscribed on the memorial, bringing the total names engraved to 19,981. The newly etched names include 120 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who died in 2012. These names, along with the names of 201 recently discovered fallen officers who died in past years, will be officially dedicated on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at the 25th annual Candlelight Vigil on May 13, a truly spectacular and powerful event.
Leaving mementos and personal tributes near an officer’s name has become a rich tradition at the memorial. Each year, thousands of items are displayed—everything from colorful wreaths to photos and notes signed by loved ones to an unhinged door from an officer’s patrol vehicle. Once Police Week comes to a close, these mementos are gathered so they can be included in the collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will open in 2015 in Washington. Due to weather and both the volume and perishable nature of the items left at the wall, not every memento can be kept. However, a selection of these special “objects of tribute” will be exhibited in the Museum’s Hall of Remembrance.
As chairman and CEO of the memorial’s fund, I’ve been blessed to meet thousands of inspiring men and women from around the country at the memorial throughout the years, especially during National Police Week. Seeing the personal mementos and tributes that cover the memorial walls is truly amazing. For those who can’t make it to see in person, click here to see just a few of the many tributes left at the memorial.
And for more information about the memorial, visit www.LawMemorial.org.
Craig W. Floyd is chairman and chief executive officer of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), a nonprofit organization established in 1984 to honor the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers.
Read an additional blog by Craig Floyd here.