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        Published 23 days ago by Robert Buethe
        • Services
        • System Management
        • NG9-1-1 Dispatch
        • Fire
        • Law Enforcement
        • EMS
        • National Government Security

        Though built for resiliency, land mobile radio (LMR) systems are not exempt from faults. And, with weather getting more unpredictable and extreme throughout the U.S., critical network events can multiply during catastrophes. Mission-critical operations require having a disaster management plan to ensure network uptime.  

        Plan for the unpredictable. Most cities, states and countries have emergency management plans. Become familiar with the plans outlined for varying degrees of emergencies and how your network operations team should function in these situations. Your plans should include specific procedures for redundancies, provisioning, onsite support, power supply failures, spare parts management and much more. Catastrophes happen with and without notice. Having a set plan, and more importantly, conducting periodic drills based on that plan, makes you better prepared for either situation.

        Assess your overall system management. Outages can put public safety at risk.  Do you have all the necessary skills required to plan, operate and optimize your system performance? Leveraging a strategy that augments your operations with the right mission-critical expertise can help you maximize your technology investment, improve resiliency and ensure proper redundancies exist for the best coverage and connectivity in any situation.

        Preparing for network issues as they arise is imperative to public safety ground operations during catastrophes. Read more about how our managed services team ensures communication among first responders in South Carolina during the 1000-year flood in our Mission-Critical Disaster Management Use Case.

        Robert D. Buethe is MSSSI Global Vice President for Managed and Support Services.

      • NG9-1-1 Will Save Lives… And Money: Motorola & Talari Team Up

        Published Feb 16 2017, 9:50 PM by Tom Guthrie
        • NG9-1-1 Dispatch

        The promise of NG9-1-1 is a smart system that allows whatever type of media that is most relevant in an emergency to be sent to 9-1-1, whether that be texts, pictures, video, sensor information, or just a good, old-fashioned voice call.  It’s a world where citizens can ask Alexa to call 9-1-1 in an emergency and she can automatically provide relevant information about you, any sensors in your household – is the fire alarm going off? – or even live video from your security system.

        The other (less talked about) promise of NG9-1-1 is that it’s not going to be cheap. Many PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) I’ve talked to worry about how they will afford all of the new costs that come with upgrading their current system.

        Top of mind to me and many PSAPs are the transport costs associated with an NG9-1-1 network. All the new media in the world is worthless if that critical information doesn’t make it to its intended destination. Missing or incomplete information could lead to misrouted first responders, or worse, sending responders with the wrong skill set to handle an emergency – potentially jeopardizing the safety of the both the public AND the responders. Currently, the number of technologies that provide this necessary reliability (such as Multiprotocol Label Switching – MPLS) is limited, and the technology providers that offer them know that and charge accordingly.

        We want to make ultra-reliable, but affordable, network communications in NG9-1-1 an everyday reality across the USA, and we’ve found another company that shares that passion — Talari Networks.

        Talari is a leading provider of SD-WAN technology that focuses on engineering the WAN to provide superior mission-critical application reliability and resiliency. Their solution supports physical and cloud locations that are connected through a combination of different networking technologies including MPLS and broadband Internet. In the case of 9-1-1, their technology can take multiple commodity Internet links and deliver a WAN that exceeds MPLS reliability at a much more affordable price.

        Motorola Solutions and Talari believe that this technology could offer an exciting opportunity to provide PSAPs greater flexibility and affordability for transporting their NG9-1-1 data. We’re excited to let you know that we’re exploring strategic ways to combine our expertise in NG9-1-1 systems with Talari’s domain knowledge of SD-WAN networking to make the next generation of 9-1-1 life saving, and affordable.

        Tom Guthrie | Vice President | Smart Public Safety Solutions

      • 9-1-1- Evolution: A Tale of Public Safety in the Music City

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:30 PM by Tim Watkins
        • NG9-1-1 Dispatch

        9-1-1month-jpg.jpgAs we close out 9-1-1 education month, let’s take a look at how far 9-1-1 has evolved.

        In the late 1970s, two rookies were getting their start in emergency services in Nashville. Rick Beasley worked in the dispatch center where he would write notes about emergency calls on an index card and send the card up a conveyer belt to dispatchers who would radio out the call. Over at the fire department, Lester Kelton was a young firefighter, responding to calls that Beasley wrote out on index cards.

        Over the years, the two have watched Nashville flourish and grow into Music City, transitioning from a fun town for music into a global tourism center for entertainment. They’ve also watched technology change their jobs dramatically, bringing world-class solutions to the jobs they both love. Beasley is now an emergency communications officer for the Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Center (ECC) and Kelton is the fire chief. They both operate PremierOne™ Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Premier Mobile Data Computer (PMDC) with such efficiency that it would have looked like science fiction back in the 1970s.

        nashville.jpgToday’s Dispatch Center
        These days, Beasley operates a bank of computer screens that are capable of delivering a comprehensive view of nearly any situation that can happen in the Greater Nashville area. He can identify an address or location, and from that information, pull up a map that gives him an overview of the address along with specific notes about hazards or potential problems with the location.

        If a call comes in about a building fire, Beasley can pull information from the system that will tell him which of Kelton’s fire trucks to send and simultaneously send an alarm to the exact crew members that need to be on the trucks so that only the personnel who need to go on that call get that call – leaving the rest of the fire crew to their much-needed rest. Beasley can also send detailed maps and hazard information about the building to Kelton’s crew so they can begin thinking about how to fight the fire even as they drive to the scene. If another call comes in about an injury at that same fire, Beasley can attach a note to the original call and check GPS locations to look for the nearest EMS crew to send to the scene, saving valuable minutes for the direct care of a potential burn victim.

        For Kelton, services like these mean he can rest easier at night. Fear of the unknown is a firefighter’s worst enemy, so the more information his crew can access as they arrive on the scene, the better the chances of putting out the fire safely. For Beasley, it means increased job satisfaction – access to information and the ability play such an important role in critical situations empowers everyone in his department to be their best on every shift. For Nashville, well, they might not even notice, but it usually means a smoother commute and workday for residents, and an enjoyable visit for tourists, as well as bragging rights for being one of the most forward-thinking “small towns” in America when it comes to public safety.

        What’s next?
        Because the Metro Nashville ECC has established a reputation as being an early adopter of new technologies, the team is looking forward to implementing the next phase of Next Generation 9-1-1 technology. When implemented, citizens will be able to send 9-1-1 text messages and the system will also support images and video files. Mobile GPS technology will help dispatchers locate 9-1-1 callers who may be visiting from out of town or who don’t know where they are, ensuring an even faster response for residents and tourists.

        As Beasley and Kelton consider the implementation of this next phase, there are probably two rookies just sitting down for their first training sessions, preparing for a long career in Nashville. Hopefully, they’ll watch as Nashville cultivates its music scene and becomes an even greater tourist destination, and see new and innovative enhancements that keep the city focused on music while they keep watch behind the scenes.

        Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Center and PremierOne CAD make Nashville safe for great music. Watch how smart emergency services look in this forward-thinking town:

        Tim Watkins is IT Manager at Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Center

      • 9-1-1 Centers and Cyber Resiliency

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:30 PM by Ray Hasil
        • NG9-1-1 Dispatch

        9-1-1month-jpg.jpgApril is 9-1-1 Education Month. Throughout the month this blog series will highlight different aspects of the emergency response process, including what happens when you text or call 9-1-1, and will pay tribute to the men and women behind the phones. This April, take some time to learn something new about America’s emergency response system.

        In February, the Department of Homeland Security warned that cyber attacks against law enforcement, fire departments and other emergency services have gone from being rare to commonplace and are likely to become more frequent over time. As I reflect on the 13 years I've worked at the Mason-Oceana 9-1-1, I remember that in the early days, there were almost no connections from our facility to the outside. Fast forward to today, our 9-1-1 center has become a central communications hub. It is interconnected to scores of agencies, servers with vital information, as well as computers and devices being used in the field.

        Protecting our front line
        With April being National 9-1-1 Education Month, there’s no better time to discuss the topic of cybersecurity. Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and 9-1-1 centers are just as vulnerable to cyber intrusion as any other business or government entity. A 2015 study by the Aspen Institute noted that 48% of CIOs and CSOs responsible for critical infrastructure believe that a cyber attack may result in a potential loss of life. The nation's 9-1-1 centers are part of the emergency services sector of our critical infrastructure. Having a standard firewall is no longer adequate to address the vulnerabilities that exist. America’s 5,899 primary and secondary PSAPs who answer an estimated 240 million calls/year cannot afford a cyber intrusion when lives are literally on the line.

        Becoming cyber resilient
        With the evolving cyber threats, it’s critical that government officials, security experts and those responsible for keeping the nation's PSAPs operational understand their risk posture and readiness to address a cyber attack. I fall into this category. Last fall, I worked with Motorola’s cybersecurity services professionals to conduct a risk assessment for the Mason-Oceana 9-1-1 Center. The comprehensive evaluation gave us a baseline of where we stood and provided a roadmap to becoming cyber resilient. Some of the findings were straightforward; others were eye-opening; and some will require more due diligence to implement:

        • Harden and patch the system. In addition to making sure that security updates are installed, also make sure the firewall is configured properly.
        • Check your intrusion-detection system. If you don't have one, install one.
        • Protect against unauthorized WiFi interface activation.
        • Constantly monitor networks for unauthorized assets, in addition to unusual network traffic.
        • Understand the physical security elements of your facility. Controlling and limiting movement in and out of your facility, especially where servers and network components are placed, is just as important.
        • Establish process and policies to control network access.
        • Educate the entire team on governance and the importance of following all security policies.

        The above were just highlights from the assessment. When calls come in, one of the first things we do at our 9-1-1 center is assess the situation. Just as we do with a 9-1-1 call, we need to first assess our cybersecurity situation to lay the ground for a comprehensive strategy.

        A security services organization is best-positioned to help you understand what the threats are and the baseline for improvements needed, as well as help you set priorities and track progress. Their experts keep on top of the latest standards and best practices. Such an assessment will provide a prioritized roadmap for your cybersecurity efforts and also help your team identify unknown security-risk items. In the world of public safety, we remind citizens that they have an important role to play. Let's not forget our own role in keeping our PSAPs secure - cybersecurity is now an important component of this responsibility.

        See how we at Mason-Oceana 9-1-1 developed a path to cyber resilience:

        Ray Hasil is the Director of Mason-Oceana 9-1-1

      • NG9-1-1: Call Taker Concerns and Solutions

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:30 PM by Josie Slaughter
        • NG9-1-1 Dispatch


        April is 9-1-1 Education Month. Throughout the month this blog series will highlight different aspects of the emergency response process, including what happens when you text or call 9-1-1, and will pay tribute to the men and women behind the phones. This April, take some time to learn something new about America’s emergency response system.

        Being 9-1-1 month, April is the perfect time to talk about the changes going on in Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and call centers around the country. Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) encompases a vast array of changes, but text to 9-1-1 is dominating the conversation. How does it work? Where is it being adopted? How can agencies bring it to their community easily and efficiently?

        Some call takers have concerns regarding this transition. For example, if a child goes missing in the middle of a sports game - during which call traffic is already higher than usual - call centers worry they will be deluged by calls and texts. The challenge becomes how to maintain focus while accelerating answer rates. Call takers need to be able to retrieve the child’s description, while managing the flood of calls. Fortunately this issue has not really come to fruition and 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.

        Call_Taker_IL_0416_msv2.jpgWhile many of the concerns are valid, none should cause a PSAP to delay their acceptance of “calls” for help via SMS/text or multimedia. Many solutions are now available to help call takers handle calls with speed and accuracy while simplifying data input. This type of solution can make an impact by providing an exact description to call takers which responders can use to locate the missing child before panic turns into havoc. Fast, effective emergency response is what citizens deserve, regardless of the call volume or other challenges facing a 9-1-1 center. Having information in an integrated view streamlines management, and simplifies the transition.

        On April 20 Motorola Solutions and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) had the honor of hearing from two agencies who are on the forefront of bringing this change to their communities. Karl Fasold, Director of Technology at Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD) and Darryl Maggard, 9-1-1 Coordinator at Muskogee County, Oklahoma addressed some of the issues their agencies addressed when upgrading to an NG9-1-1 solution, and how an integrated workflow helped mitigate their teams’ concerns.

        Watch the webinar on-demand here and click the infographic to the right to learn more about NG9-1-1.

        Josie Slaughter is the Senior Global Marketing Manager, Smart Public Safety Solutions for Motorola Solutions

      • Confessions of a 9-1-1 Operator

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:30 PM by Matthew Schreiner
        • NG9-1-1 Dispatch


        This is the third blog in a series highlighting 9-1-1 education month and the men and women who answer the call for help.

        People call 9-1-1 in an emergency and always hear a calm, prepared voice on the other end of the line. While call-takers and dispatchers are trained to deal with people experiencing trauma or tragedy, it is not an easy job. To give you a sense of what it is like on the other side of the phone call, here is a look behind the scenes of the dispatch center, based on my 10 year experience as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator and supervisor.

        Football, fires and fights
        Some things happen like clockwork. It is going to be quiet during the football game on Sunday, and the phone is going to light up when it is over. People drink during the game, get angry when their team loses, and unfortunately, sometimes they take it out on their friends and family. Thanksgiving day always starts out with oven and kitchen fires (yes, believe it or not, some people actually do try to deep fry their turkey inside the house), and it almost always ends with domestic dispute calls. Fourth of July, as you can imagine, is ambulance calls and, unfortunately, more domestic disputes.

        Call takers may manage more than one caller at a time
        They are trained to prioritize calls, and may have several callers on the line at the same time. While a dispatcher is talking to you, if a higher priority call comes in, they are trained to “triage” all the calls in their queue. Another operator may take over your call while the first operator manages the other call, or they may ask you to hold on for a moment. Threats to life always get the highest priority. Threats to life include calls reporting health issues, such as a heart attack, but also domestic calls, reports of gang activity, reports of fights or any other call in which an individual or a group or people are in danger of physical harm. Situations that are happening right now get more immediate attention than events that happened in the past. Be patient with this. Just imagine if you called to report a loved one having a heart attack, and your 9-1-1 operator put you on hold to manage a damage to property report. You’d be pretty upset.

        Take the good with the bad
        We are there to give guidance, and provide life-saving advice. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I remember a call I took one night around 3 a.m. from a sweet, little old lady. She told me her house was on fire, and I told her to put down the phone and get outside as quickly and safely as she could. When the firefighters returned from the scene, they advised they found her by the back door. She had almost made it to safety, but probably couldn’t work the lock in time before she was overcome by the smoke. The sound of her soft, sweet voice still echoes in my ears, many years later, and I will never forget her. Then on the other hand, you’ll get a caller who says, “I’m terribly sorry to bother you, but my husband doesn’t seem to be breathing” as calmly as she’d tell you, “Excuse me, but I ”. That’s when you know you do this job for a reason. That’s when you can really make a difference, and change what could be a horrific memory into a good one. I remember at least 25 people that are alive today because they called 9-1-1, I answered the phone, and my training enabled me to help save their life.

        Press any key for “yes”
        In some terrible situations it may not be possible to talk when you call 9-1-1. Call-takers are trained to handle those situations. If you’re choking or having a heart attack, or if there’s an intruder in the home, they will ask yes or no questions that can be answered by pressing any button for “yes”. Also, many 9-1-1 centers can manage text-to-9-1-1 calls. Check with your local 9-1-1 center before an emergency strikes to find out if this service is available in your area, so you can be prepared when, and if, you need it.

        A tough business
        Probably the toughest part of the job is that call takers never get closure. They help people through maybe one of the most traumatic moments of their lives. It’s intense. Then, the first responders arrive and they hang up and are on to the next call. They rarely learn what happened to the person they were helping. You remember both the good calls and the bad calls, but the good ones are the ones that help bring you back to work day after day.

        Learn more about 9-1-1 best practices, and how telecomunicators are truly the first, first responders in any emergency.


        Matthew Schreiner was a 9-1-1 telecommunicator and supervisor for DuPage Public Safety Communications for 10 years, and is the PremierOne User Experience Manager at Motorola Solutions.


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