Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) issued three white papers on land-mobile radio (LMR) technologies. Known as the “LMR Trio,” they remind public safety decision makers that even as new and emerging communications technologies are being developed, their agencies must continue to invest in their LMR networks. “Without continued investment to operate and maintain LMR systems, emergency communications could be compromised.”
The first of these papers, “Land Mobile Radio 101”, gives four key reasons why agencies need to continue to support and develop their radio networks:
Reliability: Today, land-mobile radio provides “the most reliable means of voice communications for public safety.” In an emergency, lives depend on effective communications. The radio must work, and our LMR systems are designed, built and tested with this in mind.
Mission-critical features: LMR benefits from decades of use in the most challenging conditions. The paper lists features such as rapid call setup, group calling, high-quality audio and ruthless preemption that were built specifically for the real-world needs of public safety personnel. Others to consider are site resiliency, low latency, long battery life and device-to-device connectivity. All of these are critical capabilities that LMR offers today.
Battle readiness: “LMR technologies and features have been integrated into response protocols and training curriculum, and tested through planned exercises and real-world events.” In an emergency, personnel need to focus on the mission, not their technology. Solid, reliable and familiar radio networks minimize surprises and distractions when agencies can least afford them.
Existing footprint: Over the years, federal, state and local agencies have invested billions of dollars in LMR infrastructure and devices. These systems are in place and working.
For the foreseeable future in the United States, both LTE and LMR networks will be indispensable to public safety. LMR has unparalleled reach and reliability for delivering voice and low-bandwidth (but critical) data like the location of an officer or whether a car has been reported stolen. LTE is necessary to deliver rich information like photos and video, and to collect large quantities of data from the field.
At Motorola Solutions, we continue to work on making sure LTE fits the needs of public safety. Our LTE systems, delivered in partnership with Ericsson, the global leader in LTE deployments, give public-safety users the broadband capabilities of LTE, combined with the control and security of a private network. Robust features such as Priority Management give agencies granular control over limited bandwidth and ensure critical information reaches those who need it the most.
We are also investing in technology that will allow LMR and LTE to complement each other, working together to provide public safety personnel with total situational awareness. Our WAVE software extends push-to-talk capabilities to broadband devices, while Intelligent Middleware makes it easier to create software that bridges both technologies. Devices like the LEX L10 and the APX 8000 radio can also collaborate and complement each other in the field.
We will continue to work on broadband technologies and build the next generation of mission-critical voice systems. Until then, “LMR provides the critical combination of quality, reliability, and assurance of access to priority communications that public safety officials need when responding to emergencies.”
Scott Mottonen is Vice President of Infrastructure Products and Systems at Motorola Solutions
The LMR Trio is a set of white papers intended to educate public safety decision makers and funders on the importance of LMR technologies, and the need to sustain and support LMR systems. They include:
Citizen engagement. Community-oriented policing. Peelian principles. These are the main tenants of a resurgent trend in the officer-citizen relationship that emphasize positive actions taken between the public and law enforcement officers to increase transparency and build trust. They are great buzzwords, but what do they look like in action? And more importantly, why do they matter? To fully appreciate why it is such an important practice, it is crucial to understand the main pillars of this trend:
How can citizens engage?
What is the benefit?
Citizen engagement is a changing landscape. New technologies are creating opportunities to open up a path to increased dialog. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are free public forums for citizens to provide tips and insight. Third party tools, like TipSoft provide a secure and anonymous way for information to pass to officers. Additionally, open data initiatives, like the White House Open Police Data Initiative, are increasing transparency of all sorts of municipal data, including law enforcement crime data. That simple step of democratizing crime data, through tools like CrimeReports, becomes a powerful conduit to creating stronger bonds between law enforcement agencies, all while reducing administrative overhead of agencies and fulfilling public demand.
These practices have been around for many years, but with more resources available, it is the duty of citizens and officers around the country to open productive lines of communication, for the benefit of everyone.
Steve Sebestyen is Motorola’s resident Public Safety Evangelist and also a product manager for Smart Public Safety Solutions.
Read more about citizen engagement and community-led policing here.
Want to learn more? Watch this webinar on Transparency and How It Helps You Connect With the Community.
In 1991, the ASTRO system was born. With the anticipation of Project 25 (P25) - designed to create a user-driven, flexible, and open standard for radio communications - Motorola built ASTRO as a land mobile radio (LMR) platform to comply with the P25 standard. To celebrate ASTRO’s 25th year, this series will look at the past, present, and future of ASTRO 25 and answer the most pressing questions being asked by radio users today.
As P25 and ASTRO matured, the need arose for neighboring systems to interoperate. But there was still the question of how to best enable users to roam into adjacent jurisdictions and be in contact with both the home and neighboring networks. Although the functionality seems basic, the implementation can be deceptively complex. At the outset, users were able to connect to a neighboring system by changing the selector on their radio, but this separated them completely from their home system. What evolved were two distinct approaches, each providing users the ability to communicate with neighbors and their home network with varying degrees of integration: Inter Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Single System Interoperability (multi-zone). Before a community implements one system or the other, is it critical to understand the pros and cons of each:
Inter Subsystem Interface (ISSI)
ISSI provides the ability for users to roam into adjacent jurisdictions and communicate at a basic level with both their home and neighboring agencies. The two systems may be from from different equipment providers, on different upgrade schedules, and/or possess different features. However, only the functionality that is supported on both systems and their implementation of the ISSI standard are available across the interconnection, such as voice and emergency status. Having independent systems interoperating via ISSI reduces the requirement for all jurisdictions to agree on features that will be purchased with the system, and when network upgrades will occur. For example, if one jurisdiction wants to adhere to a strict version upgrade schedule but another does not, this issue does not need to be resolved in order for ISSI to succeed. Conversely, ISSI does not make all functions of one system available on the other systems. If system A supports GPS but system B does not, when a user from A travels into B’s territory, GPS service from the user will cease.
ISSI is ideal for for a region with many different systems where interoperability among them is required, but system owners value being able to customize the features specific to their agency without their neighbor’s consent.
Single System Interoperability (Multi-Zone)
Multi-zone is a single system that operates uniformly everywhere it is in place, allowing multiple jurisdictions to share features and access privileges anywhere throughout the system. It requires strong governance and collaboration - all neighboring jurisdictions must operate at the same software version level on the same system. Each agency must agree on the functionality that will be supported. Features like data, for example, apply across the entire system and enable all zones to use it, so the cost must be covered by all participants. If agency A wants to support GPS but system B does not, then an agreement must be reached before the system can move forward.
Multi-zone is ideal for regions with strong governance and working relationships between agencies. If the groundwork for in-depth collaboration already exists, this is an opportunity to equip network users with seamless operability across multiple jurisdictions.
Before deciding which avenue to pursue, it is important to assess your agency and answer these questions:
If these lead you to answer that you do not require complex interoperability, or are unable to achieve the level of governance required, then ISSI is for you. If you need more integrated interoperability and are able to agree with partner jurisdictions on major managerial decisions, multi-zone may be for you.
For more information, about Motorola’s ASTRO 25 systems and capabilities, visit, www.motorolasolutions.com/astro.
Geoff Hobar is the ASTRO Product Specialists Manager at Motorola Solutions.
Read more ASTRO 25 blogs below:
Happy 25th Birthday ASTRO!