Boy, do I love my new Moto X Smartphone!! I bet you love yours, too. Smartphones are so important in our modern world that even Microsoft Word considers it a proper name and demands that it be capitalized. I'm not so sure I agree with that, but I'll leave it to the comments section below to debate the issue. Smartphones are arguably the most versatile piece of equipment on the planet (again, debate in the comments section if you please). I can make calls on it, read news, send text messages, access social media, update a spreadsheet and even watch a video – if only I had the time.
So with such a powerful tool at my disposal, why wouldn't someone naturally gravitate toward using their mobile phone to communicate in every conceivable situation? Why not simply abandon the radio in your hand and shout, "I'm free at last!!" Why not? Because it doesn't make sense; there's a reason the smartphone in your pocket is considered a consumer device.
There's also a reason why other consumer products and services aren't best suited to a public safety environment. I wrote a blog post a short while back about how social tools like Nextdoor, Twitter, Facebook and others are used to better enable community policing. However, what I didn't cover was that access to those tools are not ideally integrated into a public safety workflow, and therefore, agencies are forced to channel their precious resources into enabling the technologies rather than focusing on their mission.
These kinds of “mission-enhancing” approaches are common, but there's a strong need and desire to make them more “mission critical”. In other words, the public safety experience has to be better than “good enough.” Here are a few ways we are working to solve these customer challenges.
In the Field
Consumer Smartphones are used by public safety personnel everywhere, but they fail at providing the right mix of security, reliability, ergonomics, audio quality, battery life and user experience – see here. That's why we've developed a mission-critical smartphone in the LEX L10, coupled with the Public Safety Experience software to deliver a context-aware adaptive user interface so you have the right information at the right time. The combination of the two helps address those issues and deliver products worthy of our customers’ mission-critical environment.
However, many agencies are already leveraging existing consumer smartphones, and that makes sense in an environment where agencies are being asked to do more with less budget. Public safety personnel in the field access a multitude of applications on their smartphones to support their activities but often these are focused on delivering one specific capability at a time. How much time does it take to launch each application to perform a specific function or get a specific piece of information to get a complete operational picture? Does this sound familiar? There's a reason why, at Motorola, we talk about “Moments that Matter” – because for our customers they do, and every moment spent on navigating multiple apps takes attention away from your surroundings and increases risk.
That's why we launched the Intelligent Data Portal (IDP) to aggregate the most critical data and capabilities for personnel in the field in a unified interface so they can act more efficiently, in real time, and get back to their mission.
And let's not forget about voice, still the single most critical form of communication. Guess what? That consumer smartphone you're using to make those calls to your fellow personnel is not highly secured and probably not even sanctioned. We introduced WAVE to provide secured communications on smartphones, tablets and PCs with full interoperability to existing Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems.
In the Operations Center
The traditional operational environments of Computer-Aided Dispatch Consoles, Records Management Systems and Radio Dispatch Consoles have been radically transformed into a humming environment of new capabilities. To keep up with the consumer innovation curve, operations centers are augmenting existing capabilities with new ones of their own. To communicate and monitor a community, an agency may be using social media tools on a computer, perhaps co-located with existing consoles or running standalone. To do investigative search and data sharing, there may be personnel using Google search or email to collaborate and research suspects around incidents. That document or image shared over email is likely unsecure, and that Google search isn't returning relevant results from some private data sources. However, personnel are using existing consumer products and services because there's a need to get things done and it's 'good enough'.
When we developed the Real-Time Intelligence Console (RIC) we had some of these challenges in mind and set out to find a better way to solve them in a mission-critical environment. That's why we've worked to aggregate those capabilities and make them more useful and in a workflow that's consistent with existing operations. Search, data-sharing, social media, video analysis, LMR voice and a myriad of other capabilities don't need to be separate functions in disparate user interfaces. They can be combined, easily accessed and made actionable rapidly so that safety and efficiency are top of mind.
When combining some of the solutions in the field and in the operations center, we set out to really make the technology second nature and allow our customer to focus on the mission. This year at IACP we showcased these solutions and showed how the Motorola Solutions ecosystem of products and services can turn 'good enough' into great.
Oh, and by the way Microsoft Word, you're wrong... It's smartphone, not Smartphone.
Steve Sebestyen is a Senior Marketing Manager of Global Solutions and Services for Motorola Solutions. Connect with him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/stevesebestyen.
Learn more about Intelligence-Led policing and Motorola Solutions' Real-Time Crime Center.
We're happy to have Jason Walker of CyPhy Works, Inc, a Motorola Solutions partner, as a guest blogger.
Motorola Solutions & CyPhy Works (a leading robotics company) are teaming up this week at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) show in Orlando, Florida for a sneak peek into the future of law enforcement.
Today, information is everywhere— it's being shared by citizens on social networks like Twitter & Instagram, created by city operations, and captured by public safety assets. First responders need that information in the field to make smarter decisions and better protect themselves, because advanced voice and data communications serve as their lifeline and a source of mission critical intelligence.
Motorola Solutions' Intelligent Data Portal (IDP) and CyPhy Works' Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communication (PARC) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) are working together to provide first responders and command units with the power to stream video, access information, and collaborate in real time. It's an unmatched collaboration of two digital-native systems and a breakthrough for the public safety community.
Intelligent Data Portal aggregates information from multiple public and department resources, and distributes it in real-time not only to the command staff but also to the first responders on the street; the right person receiving the right data at the right time. IDP paints a complete picture of what is happening within the community and within the team. It allows area-specific information to be displayed on an intuitive map-based interface, all simultaneously accessible via wearables, smartphones, tablets, in-car computers, and in the command center. Twitter feeds, Instagram photos, teammate locations, and live video from the PARC UAS can all be shown, to the whole team, as it happens.
The PARC UAS is like having a personal satellite system that can provide a birds-eye view of a hyper-local situation to everyone that needs it for as long as they need it. Unlike every other drone, PARC is the ideal complimentary technology partner for IDP because it can stay aloft indefinitely (it's a tethered system). Additionally, PARC's network centric architecture provides real time access to the data coming from the system to everyone in the operation simultaneously; so first responders on the street get the information as it is happening, at the same time as the dispatchers and commanders.
With IDP and PARC working together, a first responder can arrive at an incident and already know before arriving how many other first responders are there, where they are located, what tools they are using, and what citizens might have seen or heard via social media reports. Most importantly, on the way to the incident and in real time on site, all of the first responders and command staff can simultaneously access the live video feed from the PARC system to see a birds eye view of the situation.
This Vine from Motorola Solutions shows how the video feed from PARC can be shown right on the wrist of a first responder using wearables like smart watches. This is not science fiction, this was being demonstrated in booth 2201 at IACP 2014, where visitors got to see the connected future of law enforcement.
Jason Walker is Director of Operations at CyPhy Works, Inc.
Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @IamRobotmechanic.
Learn more about Motorola’s Intelligent Data Portal at www.MotorolaSolutions.com/IDP
Which of these U.S. Presidents appeared on the television series “Laugh-In”?
A. Lyndon Johnson
B. Richard Nixon
C. Jimmy Carter
D. Gerald Ford
…is that your final answer?
This question made contestant, John Carpenter, the first millionaire on the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" after correctly answering, Richard Nixon. If you weren’t able to answer correctly, don’t worry. As a contestant, you would have had lifelines to assist you, such as “50:50”, eliminating two of the incorrect answers, “Phone a Friend” and “Ask the Audience”.
Today’s public safety agencies face an unprecedented set of challenges including diminishing resources, budget restrictions, growing citizen expectations and managing the complexities of mission critical communications all while working to keep communities safe.
As technologies continue to evolve, we are seeing fundamental changes from traditional analog LMR systems adding yet another layer of complexity – a world of IP-based platforms where voice, video and data will converge. Thus, agencies are in search of an answer to their million dollar question of how to benefit from the latest technology without the need to increase headcount or budget.
Agencies have traditionally operated their own voice networks; today they have options in offloading day-to-day network management responsibilities. Cloud-based services are an example that acts as an agency’s lifeline, helping to overcome the risks and challenges in managing the technology while offering the latest mission critical communications at a predictable operating expense.
These services enable agencies to maintain focus on their mission while leveraging the experience and expertise of a managed services provider in hosting and managing networks for design, implementation and support. Using the “phone a friend” lifeline, these vendors are one call away from assisting agencies in crafting a solution to their million dollar question.
Hosting also eliminates the capital costs required to build a network core and the additional costs associated with staffing, training, certifications, upgrading and license fees that are part of ownership. Additional cost savings are realized through economies of scale in the sharing of access to a network core with other agencies.
While an agency may not have the necessary funding, resources or deep expertise to effectively manage today’s complex mission critical systems, cloud-based services are an invaluable lifeline in offering access to system features and capabilities that otherwise would not be obtainable. It provides them the lifeline they need to keep their communications current and communities safe.
Tom Rigsbee is the Managed Services lead for Motorola Solutions.
Common Concerns About Text-To-9-1-1 and Why They Should Not Delay Your Implementation
Part 1 of a 2 part blog series.
As the PremierOne NG9-1-1 Call Control product manager for Motorola, I talk frequently with customers about their concerns regarding the transition to NG9-1-1 and the implementation of SMS/Text to 9-1-1. While many of the concerns they bring up are valid, none should cause a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to delay their acceptance of “calls” for help via SMS/Text. I’ve listed a few of the most common questions I get and my thoughts on them below.
Q: Will I Be Overwhelmed With Messages?
A: In short, no. Certainly not at first. Most of the public is currently uninformed about text to 9-1-1. In fact most early adopters of text to 9-1-1 have been underwhelmed by the volume of texts they received, even after significant external promotion of the availability of text to 9-1-1.
A: Again, PSAPs that are currently accepting texts to 9-1-1 have not had a problem with citizens attempting to text them using slang, shorthand, or emojis. Kids understand that contacting 9-1-1 is a serious situation and want to clearly and efficiently convey the situation or problem. In addition, the increasing adoption of smartphones with speech-to-text capability and autocorrect has largely eliminated much of the texting shorthand that was popularized by early users of SMS and Instant Messaging.
Q: Will Text to 9-1-1 Lead To Prank Messages?
A: Obviously, prank and accidental calls from uninitialized mobile phones (i.e., phones without service) are a big problem. However, this won’t be a concern with NG9-1-1 as only phones with a valid text/data plan will be able to text to 9-1-1. In addition, accidental or so-called “pocket dials” almost never occur for texts. Of course, pre-paid devices (those not tied to a monthly contract) may still be able to anonymously make prank calls and texts; however, these have not posed a problem for most PSAPs. Also, many pre-paid users still pay with a credit card which removes the anonymity. Prank and accidental texts should occur far less often and be easier to track to the texter if, and when, they do happen.
Q: But Won’t Texting Limit Contextual Awareness And Slow Response Time?
A: These questions are very legitimate concerns. Voice will always be superior to text in regards to quick response times and improved contextual awareness. Text provides no context in terms of background noise or the caller’s sense of urgency. In addition, no one reads and types as fast as they listen and talk. These points demonstrate the importance of a strong public campaign explaining that people should call 9-1-1 when they can and text 9-1-1 only when they cannot make a voice call. There are certain situations where it would be preferable to text to 9-1-1 versus call 9-1-1 such as when a voice call would put the caller in danger or when there is limited mobile coverage might make text a necessity. In these circumstances the ability to contact 9-1-1 when one otherwise could not (via a voice call) outweighs the negatives of slower response and limited contextual awareness.
Do you have any concerns, experiences, or plans for Text to 9-1-1? Come visit us at International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, October 25-28 at the Motorola Booth #2201 to discuss. You can also drop me a line in the comments section below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Frommelt is a senior product manager at Motorola Solutions.
Times are changing in the public safety communication arena, and there’s no better evidence than the shift we’re seeing from voice-centric to data-centric communication tools. In an attempt to make better use of data in the field, agencies have resorted to consumer-grade technology like off-the-shelf Android or iOS smartphones. While these devices are not considered “Mission Critical” by responders, they are certainly “Mission Enhancing.”
That was a term I first heard from Chief Charles Werner from the Charlottesville, Va., Fire Department. Chief Werner was referring to the iPads they use for incident command; his premise was that while he and his chiefs understood that these were not designed to be “mission critical”, the tablets provided enough value to outweigh the risks of malfunction.
This idea has taken off in the public safety industry. According to a Motorola Solutions Public Safety survey published in August 2014, nearly 8 out of 10 first responders rely on smartphones to do their job, and more than half of those use their own personal smartphones for work. In other words, public safety agencies have resorted to consumer-grade technology because they haven’t had a better choice.
This prompts several questions:
• What is “mission critical”?
• How can a smartphone be purpose-built for public safety responders?
• And what if the smartphone could become a mission critical complement to the radio? What would that look like?
By definition, “mission critical” is an industry-accepted term meaning “required for the success of the mission.” It could refer to a radio, a gun, a hose, a vehicle, a chainsaw, or a smartphone. However, specifically in Public Safety, there is an added level of scrutiny, as it almost always means that the mission critical tool is designed and built to provide relentless reliability, fast performance and intuitive usability. Motorola radios meet these criteria and have continued to raise the Mission Critical bar as they’ve evolved through the years.
But when does a smartphone earn the “mission critical” status?
We must first understand the pain points associated with consumer-grade smartphones that pose a risk to Public Safety responders, their agencies and their communities:
1. Security – We all know it’s possible to hack or jailbreak Android handsets or iPhones. Google Mobility Services on Android may present a privacy issue for officers and the civilian information that’s moving through the phone. Through standard Bluetooth or WiFi, a hacker might be able to access the device remotely and browse, copy, or delete the entire memory. There’s also an array of malicious apps that can auto-download while browsing, presenting further security issues. Hardware encryption for sensitive voice and data is also important, but at a minimum, these basic security holes need to be plugged.
2. User Interface – One of the key traits of a radio is simplicity. Dedicated controls with tactile feedback help the user operate the device even under the most stressful situations. But when it comes to smartphones, usability is mainly influenced by the operating system’s user interface (UI) software, which is not built with Public Safety users in mind. The user has to juggle multiple apps, each with a separate user interface and data set. This results not only in lots of distractions, but also clumsy navigation of critical operations. Besides the fact that each app requires its own login, there’s no intelligence to help choose the right “sequence” of apps to use throughout the day based on the agency’s operating procedures.
3. Ergonomics – Shape, size, color, texture, grip. Making sure the device can be operated firmly with one hand, even with sweaty palms, and having a nicely textured and tactile PTT button would also allow you to talk quickly with dispatch and team members when you already have the device in hand. You shouldn’t have to reach for the radio, right?
4. Battery Life - But there’s something critical we also learned from radios… Picture this: you forgot to charge your phone last night, you left the charger at home, and you now happen to be called for an “overtime” mission. A spare battery could really come in handy. But wait, the device has an embedded battery! Dead end. A mission critical device needs to have a long-lasting battery – and yes, it needs to be replaceable.
5. Audio – Louder is better, but not when we’re talking about noise or echo. While radios might have the upper hand on audio due to their larger size and space for bigger speaker boxes and microphone spacing, there are certainly optimizations that can be made in smartphones to maximize clarity and noise cancellation, even in a sleek form factor. For starters, speakers projecting from the front of the device are a must.
6. Reliability – Not just ruggedness to hold up against water, dust, heat/cold, drops, bumps and bruises. Not just fast power-up and operation. Not just fast network connectivity and seamless roaming. Every single component should be engineered and optimized for relentless, long-lasting operation. And if something does fail, you need reliable support from the manufacturer at your fingertips.
Taking those pain points into consideration, we’ve developed the new LEX L10. You can learn more about it here, but in summary, it addresses all six of the above-mentioned public safety pain points, making it a true “Mission Critical LTE Handheld” alternative to smartphones. This is what customers expect from us at Motorola Solutions, and this is what we will deliver. We will continue advancing the intelligent edge by embedding the Public Safety Experience into everything we build.
Daniel Sanchez is a global product marketing consultant, focusing on public safety solutions, for Motorola Solutions.
The LEX L10 Mission Critical Handheld from Motorola Solutions.
The best technologies let you focus more on your mission and less on the technology. This ideal inspired the Public Safety Experience – an elegant ecosystem of technologies we’ve designed to help first responders work faster, safer, and smarter.
We’ve studied how Public Safety professionals work— in police stations, in command and control centers, in vehicles and the field — to find better ways to connect responders to the information they need, and to the people they rely on. We’re designing natural interfaces that put safety above everything else by adapting technology to these tasks and environments, and focusing only on what’s needed.
The new LEX L10 Mission Critical LTE Handheld, being announced at IACP 2014, is the first device to feature the PSX software. The PSX user interface is customizable, context-aware and adaptive. Users will be able to see how information that includes maps, messages, status updates, video and voice communications can be presented in a way that is second nature, designed always to assist, never to overwhelm.
Included in the PSX user interface are …
• Home panels, presenting summary information from the most used applications and allowing a police officer to simultaneously monitor various data feeds widgets that adapt to changing tasks and environment.
• The Activity panel, designed to dynamically change in response to changes in users’ context, presenting data relevant to their situation. The triggers can include location, incident assignments, emergency alerts, or sensor inputs that give the device the ability to determine users’ context, and the intelligence to present what is needed.
• An Overlay, designed for quick access to important core features like PTT groups, Quick Actions, and critical applications.
• PSX Activity Builder software, which allows agency administrators to configure and customize the entire user experience based on their agency’s workflow and operating procedures.
The PSX User Interface aggregates and prioritizes information to only present what is critical for the user, based on their current status and activity. On patrol it prioritizes the surrounding environment, improving awareness. When an officer is dispatched, it highlights incident information so they can arrive faster and better prepared. On scene it guides the user with the agency’s custom workflow, enhancing safety and efficiency.
As part of the PSX promise, Motorola Solutions is also unifying public and private networks, creating a single ecosystem that unlocks powerful new capabilities. We’re aggregating data from video, sensors and social media in order to build a bigger, richer picture of responders and situations.
And new applications are enabling situational awareness and priority management, letting massive groups of people work together as one. PSX is what connects responders to their environment. It’s what streamlines a complex, dangerous job. It’s what makes our cities safer, and keeps our communities thriving. And it’s what we’re dedicated to improving with everything we make.
Cathal Tierney is Director of User Experience at Motorola Solutions.
Learn more about the Public Safety Experience by visiting our booth at IACP 2014 or exploring www.motorolasolutions.com/psx.