When lives are on the line, you need reliable, secure, unbroken communications. From the most extreme moments to the day-to-day, emergency personnel depend on mission critical communications to do their jobs effectively and keep our communities safe – it is their lifeline.
Today, mission critical communication plays a vital role in enabling emergency personnel to stay connected and protect communities around the world. Public safety organizations and agencies – including national, local, state and regional police, fire, and emergency medical services – have long turned to narrowband, two-way radio for their mission critical communication needs. These land mobile radio (LMR) networks have long served to deliver proven, reliable voice communication in life-and-death situations.
However, public safety needs are evolving – and that evolution requires new forms of communication. The past fifteen years have seen advances in mobile broadband technology drive the growing demand for real time data. Within public safety, agencies are leveraging this advanced mobile intelligence to access video, pictures and location data to resolve incidents and make informed decisions in real time. As organizations continue to incorporate data into their workflow and mobile broadband plays a larger role in the mission critical communications mix, agencies may find themselves struggling to navigate the complex and ever-evolving mission critical public safety communications landscape.
More than 20 years ago, Motorola Solutions recognized the need for an efficient, easy-to-understand benchmark for evaluating technology choices. In response, we introduced the five Cs of critical communication – coverage, capacity, cost, control and capability. Today’s environment requires you to consider a sixth C – cybersecurity.
Together, these six Cs play an important role in effectively assessing mission critical communications. You want to make sure you make the best decisions for the people on the front lines. With a multitude of information discussing the pros and cons of both LMR and mobile broadband, making the right choice can seem like a daunting task.
But maybe it doesn’t have to be! In fact, many industry leaders argue that the right solution for public safety is to leverage both options in order to achieve mission critical communication success. Today, and in the near future, there is no one system that can successfully provide both mission critical voice and broadband data communications. As public safety agencies around the world explore different ways to address their needs for reliable communications, the solution is to leverage both LMR and mobile broadband. These serve as complementary technologies – with LMR providing essential mission critical voice communications and mobile broadband providing additional data-driven capabilities. Together, they provide a collaborative solution that is able to respond effectively and efficiently to today’s public safety communication needs.
By bridging these two technologies and connecting LMR and mobile broadband networks together, public safety agencies are creating forward-thinking, collaborative networks that address all of the six Cs of mission critical communications – coverage, capacity, cost, control, capabilities and cybersecurity.
Capacity: Are your communications systems capable of supporting everything and everyone they need to during times of crisis? Will calls be prioritized so the most important information gets through first? A successful mission critical communication system seamlessly handles mass call volumes, prioritizes important calls and ensures necessary agencies are able to access the network. It must be engineered to address peak usage and right-sized to your organization’s specific needs to ensure calls always get through – regardless of the circumstances. Current LMR networks are designed for emergencies with capacity calibrated for maximum usage. By including mobile broadband, your agency is able to extend your user base and ensure that all critical individuals are able to access the communications network.
Coverage: Does your system meet your unique geographical and performance requirements? No one can predict where the next incident will occur. You need a robust communication system with superior coverage across your entire jurisdiction and sufficient back-up and redundancies to prevent communication gaps and losses. Infrastructure should be easily supported and serviced to ensure your network stays up and running when it’s needed the most. As LMR devices transmit with more power, LMR networks often require less infrastructure to provide the same level of coverage. This streamlined infrastructure is easier to support. In addition, LMR devices also work in Direct Mode Operation (DMO) if the network does goes down, allowing them to communicate device-to-device. Running collaborative LMR and mobile broadband networks means you can have the mission critical voice and data coverage you really need. The resiliency of P25 LMR networks in Florida and Texas was proven during recent events – including Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey – where the systems continued to operate with minimal disruption of coverage.
Control: How much control do you want over system requirements, design, features and operations? Is it important for your organization that your system is configured for a specific use case? Many public safety agencies want a high degree of authority over their systems. They want control over the coverage and capacity of the network. But they also want to control who has access to the system and who has priority, monitor what changes need to be made and when, and track the status of all users. In addition, these controlled networks streamline management and provide network health visibility at all times. Bridging your LMR and mobile broadband networks, giving you unified fleet maps, access rights and prioritizations means you have the control of your network you need.
Costs: How would your return on investment improve if your system supported both voice and data? Your agency doesn’t want to have to compromise mission critical features because of budgetary concerns. Analyzing the cost of both LMR and mobile broadband networks highlights two very unique, divergent financial structures. Traditionally, implementing an LMR network requires a larger one-time initial financial output to develop infrastructure, followed by ongoing, set monthly fees for upkeep and services. Conversely, subscribing to a commercial mobile broadband network is less expensive at the outset, but recurring airtime fees and other data charges can be unpredictable. Determining if the expense scales appropriately with the size of you fleet will be something you need to consider. In addition, mobile broadband requires more bandwidth than narrowband LMR systems, meaning additional sites may be needed to provide the same level of coverage. Building a plan based on collaboration between LMR and mobile broadband networks can provide your organization access to the most up-to-date communications technology for both voice and data and give you access to the capabilities you need while reducing your implementation and operational costs.
Capability: Voice is critical, but does your organization also need data capabilities? Through multiple generations of development and user experiences, LMR systems provide a number of functions essential to mission critical operations. Push-to-talk, intuitive design, rugged construction, unique ergonomics, advanced noise cancellation and high-capacity batteries are all features that have been incorporated into LMR devices with the customer’s environment in mind. Robust priority and pre-emption, dynamic grouping, even low-latency call setup are all inherent to LMR technology, ensuring that a critical call gets through. In addition, LMR technology is decentralized and built for resilience – if part of a network goes down or is disconnected from the rest, LMR continues to operate. Multiple levels of redundancy and fallback modes are built into the networks to minimize service disruptions under even the harshest of conditions. With a design philosophy born in delivering mission critical audio, LMR is unable to support the wide diversity of data-driven applications provided by mobile broadband. Today, 70 percent of agencies believe access to real-time date in the field is ‘critical.’ Mobile broadband continues to open up the world of video streaming and data applications, providing emergency personnel with access to real-time surveillance video, high-resolution photos, bi-directional vehicular video, and dynamic mapping and routing. This, in turn, is improving operational efficiency and promoting intelligent decision making. With LMR and mobile broadband providing their own set of unique capabilities, choosing between the two can be a challenge. By bridging both technologies, your organization is able to take advantage of the robust offerings provided by LMR and mobile broadband - mission critical voice and mission critical data. This synergy between voice and data is the future of mission critical communications.
Cybersecurity: Are your mission critical communications secure? Globally, the number of cybersecurity breaches has increased by nearly 30 percent annually. It is clear that security is a real concern for public safety agencies. As communication evolves to include voice, data and video capabilities, the risk of cyber attacks for both LMR and mobile broadband networks is expanding. Mobile broadbands’ variety of applications and internet connectivity introduces new opportunities for breaches. With LMR voice communications, the movement away from self-contained, proprietary technology toward IP-based infrastructure and broadband interconnectivity is increasing network “attack surfaces.”So whether you are utilising LMR, mobile broadband or both you need to be aware of cyber security threats. Fortunately, both LMR and mobile broadband networks continue to adapt to emerging cyber threats, including additional security measures, continued updates and innovative encryption services. Looking ahead, those networks that utilize security best practices and open standards will be better positioned to protect against cyber attacks.
When it comes to mission critical communications, having the right technology for the right operations is key. As data continues to proliferate and networks become increasingly complex, bridging LMR and mobile broadband enables your organization to combine their unique strengths into a blended network that best meets the complex demands of public safety. Leveraging the best of both LMR and mobile broadband ensures your organization has all of the six Cs of mission critical communications – coverage, capacity, cost, control, capabilities and cybersecurity.
John Kedzierski is Corporate Vice President of Systems and Infrastructure Solutions at Motorola Solutions.
(1) “5 Trends Transforming Public Safety Communications,” Motorola Solutions, 2015.
(2) “Cost of Cyber Crime Study,” Ponemon Institute and Accenture, 2017.
A variety of body-worn camera (BWC) benefits have been outlined since they were thrust into the spotlight over the past couple years. In this series, we are breaking down three primary components of successfully using the digital evidence BWCs produce in court. This is based on a piece from our recently released Digital Evidence 101 white paper bundle.
In this post we will focus on creating greater judicial efficiency and what needs to be considered when evaluating body-worn camera solutions to accomplish that.
Automation Is Critical To Close Out Cases Faster
To minimize disruption from the sheer volume of content BWCs capture and create, it is important to choose a BWC solution that automates as much of the digital evidence management workflow as possible. This will ensure minimal disruption to officers and save valuable administrative time and costs for your agency in delivering to judicial partners what they need to prosecute a case successfully.
For instance, when searching through evidence, it can be tedious to manually associate pertinent file information or to comb through unorganized data. But when digital evidence can be searched for, grouped and filtered by metadata, tags, notes and incident information automatically associated with the files, that process is completed in seconds, not hours or days.
Removing personally identifiable information when sharing evidence and even consistently purging content according to state and local policies can also be tedious processes if done manually. Consider integrated capabilities within your digital evidence management software such as object-based redaction and retention schedules assigned to tags to automate it.
Automated processing facilitates better cooperation and collaboration with judicial partners by fulfilling requests more efficiently without having to hire additional administrative staff. This means not only are you able to successfully close cases faster, but you are even saving budget that can be used to retain or add officers in the field.
If you’ve missed my previous two posts that dive into other important considerations for successfully using body-worn video in court, be sure to check them out here and here. If you are interested in our complete paper on this topic, visit our Digital Evidence 101 page for that exclusive content plus much more!
Jason Hutchens is the Former Director of the Planning and Assessment Division at Indiana Homeland Security, and is a Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.
Congratulations, you’re set up, you've had your meetings, and everyone is on the same page about Intelligence-led policing. This is going to be the next best thing since radios and Velcro duty belts! But, alas, I've saved the hardest for the last, putting intelligence-led policing into long term action. Intelligence-led policing is not something that can be tried for a season and then put on the shelf.
In this blog series we have discussed how it must be the heart of an organization wide approach at policing. Intelligence-led policing, like most new things to your department, will take an adjustment period for everyone to become comfortable in using it. No more will what I call the “shotgun method” of patrolling be adequate or effective in your police department. The “shotgun method” of patrolling would be just driving aimlessly around in your zone checking your buildings, answering calls, and otherwise seeing if you can drive up on something. No, as you learned, there is a much more effective way to direct your patrols to where they need to be and when they need to be there by using the intelligence that you already have at your disposal. By using geographic maps, hotspot maps, and time of day/day of week charts, to direct patrols, your officers stand a much greater chance to prevent or disrupt a criminal pattern in their area.
Patrol will not be the only beneficiary of your new intelligence-led policing initiative, your department's special teams will certainly benefit from your newfound directive. I'm a big believer in specialized reports for special teams such as: narcotics, traffic, detective bureau and SWAT. In my career I created specialized reports for narcotics that not only showed the house that they were investigating, but the houses in close proximity that were also dealing narcotics. The obvious benefit of these reports would be to show possible networks of narcotics sales localized in certain neighborhoods. An added benefit, and a safety benefit, would be to use those maps when planning undercover operations so as not to base your operation near a house with similar criminal activity that might compromise your location.
For my traffic teams, reports on specific streets where the most speeding tickets were written might indicate where we would need to set up a speed reduction device such as a traffic monitoring trailer or red light camera. I routinely produced reports based solely on the cases assigned to my detectives division separated by property and persons crimes. I was able to show, through various visualizations, where the majority of each zone assigned detectives cases were originating from, and from a historical view of that report, estimate the seasonal caseload that each detective might expect so that they might focus on their most prolific and serious offenders.
And for my SWAT team, I was able to create a report that showed, through the use of geographical satellite maps and criminal activity overlay, the best possible access route to a target location. For instance, I would create a map with a target location in the center of the map. I would then overlay similar crimes along the planned route to that target location. With that information, we were able to best layout our safest route to the target location, avoiding any locations with similar criminal activity in order to minimize the possibility of conflict or identification before the target location.
My best advice to you and your department as you begin this new intelligence-led policing chapter, would be to look outside the box that we all create for ourselves within each department. Ask yourself, how would this information, visualized in a different way, help better our department? Ask your staff, if you could improve one thing about how you receive information on crimes, what would it be? Then work with those suggestions to tailor your intelligence-led policing approach specifically toward your department's needs. Do not assume that just because you are used to a certain reporting style or visualization, that that is the best way or the only way to create that report.
Like most cops, I have a strange sense of humor, and therefore really enjoy de-motivational posters. You know, the ones that look like motivational posters, but actually have a cynical or smart alec way of looking at things. My favorite of these posters kind of sums up my approach to breaking out of our predetermined boxes to reach new levels of policing. It’s a picture of a group of men in the “Running of the Bulls”, and in this picture, one of the men is about to get the business end of a bull if you know what I mean. The caption on the poster reads “Tradition. Just because we've always done it this way, doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.”
As always, feel free to check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how you can properly evaluate solutions that will help you turn big data into actionable intelligence and start you down the path to becoming an intelligence-led agency.
Daniel Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.
This blog is the third in the “Walk in Your Shoes” series. lt highlights the importance of field testing our products with first responders before launch to ensure quality. Read the first two blogs Walk in Your Shoes – The Foundation of Customer-Focused Software Applications and Walking Alongside Law Enforcement - I’ve Learned So Much.
Engaging Fire and Law Enforcement officers from product inception through launch is important to creating the right products for the Public Safety Market. This is also the most enjoyable part of my role. Pre-release testing is a vital step that ensures quality and usability of our product offerings when launched. Receiving direct feedback and end-user interactions in the station, in the vehicle and in the field during the pre-release cycles allows us to better meet first responder needs and expectations when we go to market. It also provides valuable insights about how the product performs in the customer’s environment.
In preparation for the PremierOne Handheld iOS launch, I recently completed three on-site customer field trials observing hands-on use, seeking expert input and performing integrated testing. During these field trials, System Administrators, Firefighters, Medics, Police Officers and Sergeants engaged with me and our Engineering Team for interactive road testing of PremierOne Handheld on iPhones, iPads, and Android Smartphones. Walking responders through features like Responder and Unit Location Tracking, Emergency Activations, Real-time Incident and Unit Status Monitors and Dynamic Incident Updates was the focus of these trials. Watching as responders navigate through and use our application in the field helps us understand if the application is as intuitive as we designed it to be. Side-by-side testing to ensure that all the features deliver the intended benefits without technical glitches is a vital step to ensuring product quality.
Observing customer reactions during the field trials helps us gauge how features will be received when launched. For instance, during our field trials for PremierOne Handheld, the application’s ability to scan a driver’s license to auto-populate incidents with personal details was received with great enthusiasm. The application’s ability to automatically query Records, State and NCIC databases, and return all prior incident details based on this scan was also a key highlight. Our customers’ reaction to PremierOne Handheld, our smartphone and tablet application, proves the value of time in the field and the benefit of walking step-by-step beside our first responders from product inception through launch.
Receiving inputs from first responders never gets old. If you are going to be at at IACP, 2017 please stop by the Motorola Solutions Booth #3037 and try out our newest applications. My colleagues and I would love to hear your opinion about our products so we can continue to meet and exceed your expectations.
Julie Folden is Mobility Product Manager at Motorola Solutions. Her job is to understand the daily activities and needs of police, fire, and EMS personnel to help software development teams to create the best mobile and handheld applications for both today and tomorrow. She takes her job seriously having completed over 500 public safety experiential visits over the past 15 years.
When I began my career in law enforcement, back in 1973, we didn't even have portable radios. I had a little Motorola two-way radio in a 1972 Dodge with bench seats. If we needed help, we had to run back to the car, ask for help, and then go back to the scene.
As a young deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County, then lieutenant, captain, and division commander, I watched society change and law enforcement evolve. I was a platoon commander during all five nights of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
There were very few frequencies back then, and communications were restricted. I never thought I'd see the day when there would be computers inside a police car. Now, we can get not only voice but also data inside the car and on portable devices.
I retired in 2009, but came out of retirement at the request of the city of Santa Maria. The job was to restructure the Police Department. I was excited about the opportunity to build a department from the ground up. And that included a communication system, a new fleet, and an entire new building.
We're a self-contained police department, and we do our own dispatching for 130 officers, as well as the Fire Department, handling close to 300 calls for service every day.
The communication system is the most important tool we have, yet, the City of Santa Maria's system was 20 years old. Our upgrade to Motorola Solutions WAVE, computer aided dispatch and next generation call-talking will enable the entire city to communicate—not only the police and fire departments, but also public works, transit and the schools.
Because when something goes south, whether it's an earthquake, whether it's inclement weather, a missing child or an auto accident, everyone dials 9-1-1. And we want to be there for them.
My job as Police Chief was no longer to drive around and arrest people; it's to make sure that public safety personnel have everything they need to do their job. I want the new generation that's coming into the police department to know that we did everything we could to make the job easier, not just this week, or next month, or a year from now, but 10 years from now.
Learn more about Santa Maria’s vision by watching this video:
Ralph Martin is Police Chief for Santa Maria, California.
A variety of body-worn camera (BWC) benefits have been outlined since they were thrust into the spotlight over the past couple years. In this series, we will be breaking down three primary components of successfully using the digital evidence BWCs produce in court. This is based on a piece from our recently released Digital Evidence 101 white paper bundle.
In this post we will focus on securing fair, just and accurate rulings, and what needs to be considered when evaluating body-worn camera solutions to accomplish that.
Body-Worn Video Evidence Admissibility Requires Chain-of-Custody Validation
“Law enforcement must also work with other partners, such as the courts and prosecutors, to determine legal requirements regarding chain of custody and admissibility. Evidence is of little use to the criminal justice system when it is ruled to be improperly obtained after the fact.”
Goodison, Sean E., Robert C. Davis and Brian A. Jackson. Digital Evidence and the U.S. Criminal Justice System: Identifying Technology and Other Needs to More Effectively Acquire and Utilize Digital Evidence.
Just as with physical evidence, steps must be taken, from capture to courtroom, to ensure that digital evidence is valid and untainted. These steps are essential to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system and reinforce the public’s confidence.
For any evidence used in a case, there has to be a validated chain-of-custody to avoid the risk of the evidence being ruled inadmissible in court. Handoffs of digital evidence throughout its journey from capture, to storage to use in court, must be evaluated for its security posture. Starting with the device, you should know how the BWC was authenticated on the system, from what point chain-of-custody can actually be validated for the evidence and whether the digital evidence is encrypted while at-rest on the BWC.
It is also important to consider the storage, processing, and sharing stages of digital evidence handoffs. For instance, if using Wi-Fi for efficient upload to the cloud for storage, it is critical that the Wi-Fi access point is secure. Digital evidence should also be encrypted in-transit to the cloud as well as at-rest in the cloud, just as it was on the device.
Throughout digital evidence processing and review activities, policies should be in place that determine who has access to digital evidence and how they are able to access it. Any actions taken with that digital evidence should be audit-logged, and an option for chain-of-custody validation should be presented during any interaction with a file. When digital evidence is shared for case prosecution, an original copy of the evidence should always be retained, along with any redacted or edited versions sent to your judicial partner that are required to protect personally identifiable information.
Check back in later on as we dive into our last consideration and discuss how it can be achieved. In the meantime, if you missed our first post on generating objective digital evidence from BWCs, check it out here. If you can’t wait and want the full paper on how to successfully use body-worn video evidence in court now, visit our Digital Evidence 101 page for that exclusive content plus much more!
Jason Hutchens is the Former Director of the Planning and Assessment Division at Indiana Homeland Security, and is a Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.