The public safety technology landscape is constantly changing to address new challenges, such as increasing public expectations of performance, pressure to cut budgets, and new threats to cybersecurity. In response, there is a growing need for operational and technological innovation. The industry is working hard to meet new technology needs; here are 10 trends and topics I’m going to watch in 2014:Communications security will be more important at all levels of government. Stories about security breaches from compromised credit card data to snooping on private government conversations are all over the media. Agencies will keep as many communications as possible on private communication systems such as land mobile radio networks with end-to-end encryption, including over the air encryption key management from the device in the first responders’ hands to the dispatch consoles in the command center/control point. For government users of consumer devices like Android smartphones, the focus will be on hardware and software encryption solutions like the Assured Mobile Environment (AME) to provide standards-based security solutions.Public safety operations will continue to be based on voice communications. Even with ongoing discussions of public safety LTE broadband, agencies will continue to migrate and deploy new digital P25 and TETRA radio networks for the foreseeable future. Agencies will deploy enhanced Land Mobile Radio (LMR) features, constantly improving audio quality, increasing resilience, the highest security standards and enhanced data features (enhanced data for P25, TEDS for TETRA).LMR systems are great at the mission they are built to accomplish: providing outstanding voice and basic data communications that are interoperable, always available, and always reliable. LMR systems are inherently easier to harden because of the smaller number of sites required to cover an area, as compared to broadband data systems such as LTE. Features like direct mode radio-to-radio communications that require zero infrastructure mean LMR systems are always available. As a result, LMR remains the best tool for mission critical push-to-talk voice communications and the single best communications investment a public safety agency can make.Increased adoption of broadband data services and applications. LTE broadband in public safety will be central to the discussion, not only in terms of how it will be funded and deployed but how public safety will adapt operations to increasingly rely on data for their day-to-day operations. Internationally, discussions will be about how broadband will be deployed. Will it be public or private networks using shared or dedicated spectrum? In the U.S., the discussion will be about FirstNet and if individual states will opt in or out of the FirstNet plan.With the amount of infrastructure sites and backhaul costs required to support LTE, most governments will look to sharing networks with consumer/commercial users. As a result, we will see conversations about standards and technology to enable sharing of public safety traffic with consumer/commercial users while guaranteeing public safety the access they are used to on the private LMR systems that they do not share. No easy answers here, and I am curious to see what compromises public safety users are willing to make, if any, to share bandwidth with all of us. In other words, where will public safety settle in terms of “good beats perfect”?As agencies look to LTE adoption, we will see detailed conversations about how Land Mobile Radio works and why it has been the standard for public safety communications for 80+ years. Agencies will re-examine what has made LMR so great as they define what they want in LTE.The debate will continue: What should a public safety broadband device look like, what should it do, and how should it operate? We will see more agencies testing consumer-grade devices in public safety use cases. Where will the concepts of “good enough” and “purpose built” meet in another take on “good beats perfect”? How important will requirements be for cold and hot weather operation, resistance to snow and rain, requirements for gloved operation, the need to use touchscreens that are wet, higher drop/tumble ratings requirements to keep devices operational in the field? Seriously, this winter in Chicago has been ridiculous; even for someone like me, who was born in Poland and grew up in Wisconsin and northern Illinois. I could not record my kids in a ski race the other day because the digital camera would not work in the super cold temps; I’ve never seen that happen before.Over the Top Push-to-Talk applications on broadband data devices, including tablets and smartphones, such as Unified Push to Talk, will become more widely used to enable non-radio carrying users such as command staff or off-duty officers to participate in public safety communications, no matter where they are.The LEX700 and TC55 are recent examples of purpose-built devices with specially designed ergonomics, rugged specs, and functions tailored to user requirements. For example, the TC55 has a laser barcode scanner and you can use its touchscreen while it’s wet and while wearing gloves.Predictive policing, “big data” analytics, and working smarter in public safety. In 2014, more government leaders will develop strategies to quantify, capture, and find ways to use their data operationally, and make some sense of the chaos that agencies are feeling with the escalation of data capture. Agencies will add real-time data flows, aggregate public/private sector video, access social media, and correlated/linked data to Command Centers and Control Rooms to improve incident management performance. Citizens have increasing expectations of the agencies that serve them and threats are changing. The ability to capture, correlate, analyze and share data through solutions such as Real-Time Crime Center and Connected Police Officer will be more important than ever. Real-time crime centers aggregate technology to enable an operator, different from a 911 call taker or dispatcher, to access all available information and use that to help officers in the field resolve situations faster. With more information available to law enforcement, who will take the leap in 2014 and implement Real-Time Crime Center Solutions and Connected Police Officer solutions to take advantage of that data and share it in the field? This opportunity will improve public and officer safety in the year to come.Public safety agencies will increasingly work together to share communications capabilities. Those shared capabilities could be in the form of regional shared P25 and TETRA radio systems (statewide or nationwide) and larger regional, multi-agency command centers, whether those are emergency number 911/999/112 answering points or fusion centers and multi-agency emergency operation centers.Growing needs for interoperable communications and the drive to do “more with less” will continue to push agencies to work together to share infrastructure. Some of these networks will include public-private partnerships such as STARCOM21 in the State of Illinois that serves over 40,000 radios or the Nationwide TETRA system in NorwayTechnology requirements (text, images, and video from citizens in public safety answering points/control rooms) for Next Generation 911 in the USA or /999/112/etc… internationally combined with the operational costs of maintaining and operating command centers/control rooms will lead more agencies to work together to build larger, regional, multi-agency centers. As dispatchers have to handle larger service areas that support multiple agencies across regional or disparate radio networks, Command and Control applications such as PremierOne CAD, PremierOne Mobile, and PremierOne Records that inherently support multi-agency operation can be integrated into P25 or TETRA networks to get information such as GPS location, user ID, and emergency status directly from the radio network.Wearable image capture and video recording systems will become commonplace but will not replace in-vehicle video recording systems. On-body camera solutions offer tremendous evidence capture and officer safety advantages. However, public safety will have to address governance issues such as: admissibility in court, public privacy issues, when wearable cameras would be recording. Agencies will work to enable real-time streaming from on-body image and video capture solutions via software such as Real Time Video Intelligence. Law enforcement officers will wear cameras, for example the cameras in our LEX700 Public Safety Broadband Device, TC55 Rugged Touch Computer, and our MTP6750 TETRA handset, but the squad car will still need the dashboard and rear seat cameras such as the MVX-1000 to capture footage that the on-body camera cannot see. Backhaul challenges for streaming wearable cameras will also prevent the replacement of in-car video recording systems.Cloud services will grow in public safety. Moving to “the cloud” is one of the biggest trends in IT, and we will see public safety increasingly join the trend. Whether it is cloud IT services like email and productivity applications, to more specific public safety applications such as records management and mobile applications in the car or on a smartphone/tablet; public safety will get more comfortable with not having the application and database hosted on-site.Adoption of smartphone and tablet devices will play a role in as many apps we all use in that environment rely on the cloud. Check out our Intelligent Data Portal solution, which has an app that you download on your tablet, but the data lives securely in the cloud.The cloud will include radio and broadband networks. In fact, the STARCOM21 State of Illinois statewide radio network I mentioned earlier could be considered a “cloud” service.More predictability in maintenance and operations costs. Ongoing public safety financial challenges are leading CIO's to look for ways to smooth out peaks of capital spending and match the constraints of revenue. Adoption of cloud services, radio or broadband as a service will swing the needle from the traditional capital intensive technology purchases to more technology as a service models. Check out the agreement that the City of Charlotte, NC came to with Motorola Solutions to keep their system up to date. I believe you will see more governments looking for such agreements in 2014.Use of drones and robots. From airborne surveillance to hazardous situations, more agencies will experiment with drones and robots We may not yet get packages delivered in our backyard by a drone, but we may see them hovering over incident scenes streaming live video. I predict 2014 will be an exciting year for public safety communications as advancements enable public safety to better serve their constituents and have access to more intelligence to make better informed decisions. So what are your thoughts on these trends? Which trends do you think are most important? Please feel free to provide your thoughts below, and let’s start a dialog as 2014 gets under way.John Kedzierski is Motorola Solutions Director of Government Product and Solutions Marketing and previously the Motorola Solutions Area Sales Manager for the states of Illinois and Indiana.Read additional blogs by John Kedzierski:Crime Technology of the Future, Here TodayThe 4 C's and Why Two-way Radios are EverywhereHow LMR and LTE Work Together for Public SafetyHow to Easily Connect Over LMR, LTE and Smartphones: INteroperability from Radio to Smartphone and Beyond
As the Polar Vortex keeps the United States in a deep freeze, news reporters are advising people to stay home, to be careful, to use caution when venturing outside. You might have been asked by your employer to stay home or work remotely. If you are a public safety employee however, showing up to work during this time is more important than ever. First responders don’t get the option to stay home, even though the extreme weather makes it more difficult for them to do their job.
When our engineers create devices for public safety, like two-way radios, they design with these extreme temperatures in mind. These devices are engineered to be able to withstand the most extreme environments and, for example, use different chemistry compounds for radios to work regardless of the outside temperature. Everything from the way the battery connects to the radio to the internal sealing of the device plays a role in radio operations in a cold, sub-zero climate.
Let’s take Lake County, Illinois, for example. On February 2, 2011, it was hit with one of the largest snowstorms in its history. First responders were able to quickly take action, despite the freezing and potentially dangerous conditions. Emergency management teams were able to deploy Motorola APX 7000 portable radios, in addition to the statewide STARCOM21 system, to communicate continuously and reliably.
During this frigid winter season, operations such as air traffic control and global airlines have to continuously react to delays and changes in flight itineraries. Airport employees have to constantly communicate with airport ground crews to ensure flights depart and arrive safely, and radio operations are critical. Agencies need to be able to respond to these alerts instantly and have a device on hand that will operate no matter the thermometer reading.
Can these radios operate in these severe weather conditions? To put it simply, electrical circuitry and sensitive components such as displays and battery cells are specifically selected, designed and tested to perform in such extreme temperatures—both hot and cold. These tests look for how these devices operate during low temperature storage (i.e. tests how low temperatures affect material safety during and after storage, and operational performance after storage) and also low temperature operation (i.e. how well the radio operates in low temperature environments). To measure the effectiveness, devices will go through evaluations in thermotrons or temperature chambers as low as -51C (-60F) during ALT (Accelerated Life Testing) tests such as hardening and embrittlement of the materials, changes in electrical performance, and any changes in physical properties of material that could adversely impact the life of the product. The hardening and embrittlement process is when devices are stored in these environments, removed from super cool temperatures and dropped onto concrete surfaces to test the durability of the radios.
The Polar Vortex is the term of the season this winter, and although a lot of us have been affected by it, including first responders and those who ensure our safety, their radios have not. The radios just keep on working.
Callan Russ is the Global Product Marketing Manager for ASTRO 25 Subscribers, Motorola Solutions. Please leave your comments or questions about how products are designed to withstand the cold – or any anything else you’d like to know – below.
Learn more about how devices performed during extreme weather in the case study “Lake County Weathers ‘Snowmageddon’,” or watch “How Interoperability Helped New Jersey Cope with Superstorm Sandy.”
Growing up, we all had a hero. It may have been Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman, but did you know that true heroes surround us every day?
A person doesn’t need to have the power of invisibility or super strength to be a hero. An act of bravery, selflessness and the ability to touch people’s lives in a positive way are characteristics found in a true hero.
Do you know someone like this? The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is looking for local standouts to honor at the 12th annual Heroes Breakfast this spring. The Red Cross recognizes community members every year who have demonstrated heroism through extraordinary acts of courage or kindness. Click here to hear some of their inspiring stories.
Nominations are accepted in various categories, such as the Law Enforcement Award won last year by Sergeant Christopher Kapa and Officer Kirsten Lund of Chicago.
The two officers responded to a call from another Chicago Police Department officer of shots fired on the South East Side. Arriving at the scene, Sergeant Kapa and Officer Lund found their comrade hit by a bullet after chasing a suspect on foot. Officer Lund applied pressure to the officer’s bleeding chest wound as Sergeant Kapa rushed them to the emergency room, saving his life.
Another past-honoree who felt compelled to help others in danger was Donielle Johnston of Elgin, who received the Emergency Medical Assistance Hero Award. Donielle was heading east on I-290 in DuPage County when she drove upon a horrific rollover car crash that injured a 3-month-old baby and his parents. Donielle rushed to the aid of the infant who had severe lacerations and was losing large amounts of blood. Trained in First Aid, Donielle applied gauze to stop the bleeding and comforted the parents until paramedics arrived.
Joyce Carrasco of Elgin was also honored last year, as the Military Hero. Joyce is the founder and director of Greater Chicago Blue Star Mothers, a support network for local military families. With two of her four children serving in the United States Air Force and Marine Corps, Joyce, along with other military moms in the group are holding down the home front volunteering at the O’Hare USO and hosting baby showers for expectant mothers while service members are away from home. The Blue Star Mothers also present patriotic banners to parents of service men and women that honor their sacrifice.
These are only a few heroes among the many. If you know someone with an inspiring story, a true hero, then we invite you to nominate him or her for recognition. Candidates who are chosen as Red Cross Chicago’s heroes will be honored at the Heroes Breakfast in Chicago on April 30, 2014. Nominations are due Jan. 31. To nominate your hero, visit: redcross.org/chicago/heroes or call 312-729-6388.
Diana Brokop is the Communications intern for the Chicago Red Cross. Her article reprinted here with permission of the Chicago Red Cross. Learn more about the Chicago Red Cross here and the American Red Cross here.
Motorola Solutions supports American Red Cross initiatives and in 2013 made donation to its 2013 Community Preparedness Program, Disaster Preparedness Summit, Preparedness Education for Youth, 2013 Heroes Breakfast and Red Cross First Responders Training Institute.
Many of us have seen public safety television shows and marveled at the whiz-bang gadgets characters such as Jack Bauer of “24” have at their disposal. We have heard Jack Bauer call the analysts at the Counter Terrorist Unit and say things like “Quick, access the traffic camera,” “Zoom in on the license plate and enhance,” “Bring up the map with the location of all our units,” or “Send the information to my mobile.”
All the information is at Jack and his analysts’ fingertips – it’s there when they need it, and everything just works. Being in the public safety communications industry for 12 years, I know the real world is not always like “24”. You know the information you need is out there somewhere in a CAD (computer aided dispatch) system or RMS (records management system) or one of the many other databases you have at your disposal. You know the first responder’s radio has GPS, you know the department store has a video surveillance system, you know there is a mug shot somewhere, but you never seem to have it at hand when you need it. All these disparate systems can be integrated together, but that requires custom interfaces and complex integration work; who has the time and money for that?
So why can’t it be as easy as it looked on “24”? It can be with the latest generation of integrated command center applications, such as the PremierOne™ suite and Real-Time Crime Center technology. Using common interfaces, geofiles, local and national databases and video camera feeds can be easily shared across Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) apps, like CAD, RMS, and mobile applications. But stopping at just the command center is not enough. To make these TV show scenes a reality also requires a connection to the officer’s two-way radio in the car or on the hip. Digital IP-based land mobile radio networks such as ASTRO® 25 with built-in interfaces to our PremierOne suite allows an officer in trouble to send an emergency alarm, have the alarm pop-up on a map with GPS location information and alert the dispatcher to send help. Secondary response teams that do not carry a radio can easily coordinate an incident response with the officer using a Unified Push-to-Talk applications on a Smartphone.
Whiz-bang information sharing is not just for TV shows any more. The technology and integration expertise is available today. As a result, scenarios like this are beginning to happen more and more often, helping public safety to keep communities safer:
Today, real world agencies are integrating systems together. The Washington State Patrol, serving a population of 6.9 million people with more than 1,100 sworn troopers, nearly 1,000 civilians and approximately 170 dispatchers, recently went live with a system that integrates CAD, mobile data applications, radio systems and other mission-critical data resources. With this new system they will better leverage their ASTRO® 25 Project 25 Land Mobile Radio system and improve information sharing with first responders in the field, resulting in the highest level of situational awareness, coordination and collaboration. Washington State Police is just one example of how Motorola Solutions is helping our customers build safer cities and thriving communities.
John Kedzierski is Motorola Solutions Director of Government Product and Solutions Marketing and previously the Motorola Solutions Area Sales Manager for the States of Illinois and Indiana.
Learn more about Motorola’s VALR™ Mission Critical Architecture, which allows public safety personnel to securely and seamlessly transition between radio and broadband networks, both private and public. Our ASTRO 25 Project 25, IP-based radio system has interfaces to our Premier One CAD, RMS and mobile applications to display the individual GPS location of a first responder right on the CAD map. It unifies data sources and services that enable next generation mobile applications, and dynamically prioritizes information to get it to those who need it most, when they need it. And it is built on a flexible, migratable open platform.