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      • Location, location, location. Is voice always king in LMR?

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:30 PM by Diane Yakes
        • P25

         For public safety agencies, knowing the location of their personnel not only improves operational performance, it can save lives. Consider the following use cases:

        • While following a suspect, an officer is fired upon. He presses the emergency button on his radio and says, “Shots Fired”. As he proceeds into a foot chase, he has trouble describing his location to dispatch. However, Dispatch has already sent backup to the scene based on his GPS location.
        • An explosion at the local mall triggers a large response from fire, police, EMS and others, generating high traffic on the radio system. Soon after, a 9-1-1 call comes in reporting an active robbery across town. Using location data, Dispatch is able to determine the nearest patrol units to redirect to the robbery.

        In Land Mobile Radio, voice traditionally has priority over any applications or services that use data. Because of its lifesaving potential, this has been a long standing rule in public safety communications. But what about location services? They can be lifesaving as well.

        How do you decide which is more important, the voice or the individual’s location? You don’t have to decide - you can have both at the same time. With ASTRO 25 Location on PTT, radios don’t need to wait until after a voice transmission to send GPS location updates. Location data is embedded directly in the voice transmission and sent continuously, with no impact to voice quality or performance. The ASTRO 25 system pulls the location data out of the voice stream and forwards it on toward the mapping application.

        This is especially important during an emergency voice call, such as in the example with an officer being fired upon. Since the officer had Location on PTT, backup was dispatched to the accurate location without delay. The officer’s GPS location was updated as soon as he called “shots fired”, and with each subsequent push-to-talk, providing dispatch with critical information.

        Location on PTT also enhances location accuracy when the radio system is heavily congested with voice traffic, such as in the mall incident described above. Even if there are no data channels available, every time a first responder presses the PTT button, their location is updated, helping dispatchers make quick decisions based on current location data.

        ASTRO 25 location services provide current location information when needed most – during emergencies and critical incidents with intense voice collaboration.

        Learn more about ASTRO 25 by visiting

        Diane Yakes is an ASTRO 25 Business Manager at Motorola Solutions

      • The Most Powerful Accountability Product in the Fire Service, and You’re Probably Already Carrying It

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:30 PM by Mark Krizik
        • P25

         With 24 fireground deaths last year in the US, fighting fires continues to be a risky undertaking. Incident Commanders charged with the safety of personnel need to be constantly aware of who is on the fireground and their status, which is why personnel accountability is getting more attention.

        Now expanded to support ASTRO 25 trunking systems, APX Personnel Accountability automates the accountability process. Using the existing ASTRO 25 two-way radio system, the solution monitors the P25 radio, and by extension the firefighter, to gain an understanding of each firefighter’s status without the need to wear additional equipment or deploy additional systems. Because the solution supports multiple clients, Fire Chiefs and dispatchers can maintain the same situational awareness anywhere with a broadband connection.

        Monitoring Radio Traffic to Gain Intelligence
        By monitoring the control channel for radio registrations, affiliations and PTT activity, the solution can know who is engaged in an incident, who is talking and who pressed the emergency button. The information is displayed in a single screen view on a laptop or tablet for Incident Commander. And if someone is on the wrong talkgroup, the Incident Commander can see that and has the option to remotely change the radio to the correct talkgroup to ensure they can communicate with the team.

        Issuing Tactical Alerts
        With APX Personnel Accountability, manual roll-calls can be a thing of the past. The Incident Commander can issue a roll-call alert to verify the status of each firefighter. For reliability, alerts are sent simultaneously over the control, data and voice channels and played at the radio at full volume. Firefighters can acknowledge an alert with a simple hit on their PTT button, which is then updated on the Incident Commander’s screen. The Incident Commander can take action for anyone who has not acknowledged the alert. Up to 16 customizable tactical alerts provide situational updates and evacuation commands in less than one second. The structured acknowledgements prevent RF congestion and ensure acknowledgements get through.

        APX Personnel Accountability is supported on ASTRO 25 trunking and conventional configurations. Learn more about ASTRO 25 at

        Watch the video to see APX Personnel Accountability in action.

        Mark Krizik, System Architect and Design Engineer at Motorola Solutions and a Lieutenant at Posen Fire Department in Illinois.

      • How Can You Upgrade Your Entire Fleet of Radios in a Few Days?

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:30 PM by Martha Lora
        • P25

         When a new version of radio software is released, how long does it take you to upgrade your entire fleet? Weeks? Months? Or is the process so painful that you choose not to reap any benefits of a software upgrade because the perceived costs are too high? At the time of this blog’s publication the industry standard for upgrading a radio fleet involves:

        • Gathering all radios from current users scattered across an entire jurisdiction
        • Taking radios and users temporarily out of service
        • Assume the risk of not catching all devices and having a fleet operate on mixed software versions
        • Devices not being updated efficiently - -or at all - leaving them vulnerable without the latest security patches

        You get the point.

        For agencies operating mission-critical operations, this status quo can be insufficient and ineffective. And now, that status quo can be a thing of the past. The next version of Radio Management from Motorola Solutions will give you the ability to automatically download and upgrade your entire fleet of APX radios in a few days or weeks without bringing them into the shop and without interrupting normal operations.

        Downloads take place over WiFi (when a radio connects into an authorized WiFi hotspot), USB connection or the ASTRO 25 network.

        Downloads occur in the background of normal operations. When idle, radios will listen on the download channel receiving their files. There is no interruption to normal radio traffic and the users will not even know they are receiving files.

        Think about it. In a few shifts, you can update all your radios with the latest software. You can fix known defects, patch security holes and gain access to the latest set of features. Reduce configuration and programming time, all without touching a radio or interrupting normal operations.

        Radio Management from Motorola Solutions can save you the time and costs normally incurred during manual software updates and help you keep your radios operating at peak performance with the latest software and features.

        Learn more about Radio Management and Over-the-Air Software Update.

        Martha Lora is a Devices Platform Product Management Lead at Motorola Solutions


      • ASTRO 25 Group Services: Broadcasting Data to Many

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:30 PM by Jim McDonell
        • P25

        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 Solutions 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 ASTRO 25 adoption spread, the needs of its users changed. Radio fleets grew in size, and functionality evolved to where it is today - incorporating voice and data across a secure P25 network. Regardless of fleet size, agencies need to use more than voice services to maximize operational efficiency. For agencies with a few dozen radios, sending individual texts or images is cumbersome. For agencies with a few thousand radios, it is nearly impossible. Fortunately, for ASTRO 25 radios, Group Services solves that issue before it arises.

        What are Group Services?
        Traditional data messaging services operate in a unicast fashion, where one message is replicated and then sent individually to every targeted receiver. LMR continues to be widely accepted because of its very efficient one-to-many voice communications. Group Services leverage the inherent talkgroup service of LMR to make it available for sending data. This enables the transmission of data over ASTRO 25 radio systems, from one-to-many users. This is a much more efficient method to disseminate information to a large group.

        Why it Matters
        Narrowband systems can’t match the raw speed of today’s broadband networks, but by using Group Services, LMR can efficiently disseminate critical data to many users in a short period of time. With just one message, all radios on a talkgroup can be contacted simultaneously, opening the door for a new class of data services. For example, dispatcher operations are enhanced with the ability to follow up to a voice call with a group text, “Go to this address and look for license plate ABC123.” Shift change alias updates can be automatically pushed to every radio in a talkgroup simply by pressing the PTT button. Soon, an entire fleet of radios can receive firmware upgrades over the radio system in about a day, with no interruption to voice communications. With this new group data service, it is not hard to think about group snapshots and group IOT services.

        LMR was built for voice group communication. Using this group-like model, users can now send data information with the same efficacy as voice communication. Take advantage of what LMR was built to do, and communicate in more ways, more easily.

        Learn more about ASTRO 25 by visiting

        See talkgroup text messaging and alias group download in action:

        Jim McDonell is an ASTRO 25 System Roadmap Manager for Motorola Solutions

      • The Case For ASTRO 25 System Upgrades

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:30 PM by Robert Buethe
        • P25

        astroapril.jpgIn 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 Solutions 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.

        You have spent a lot of time and resources to get your ASTRO 25 system to where it is today. Your network is operating well, and your end users are happy with the performance and features of the radios. Why would you want to upgrade your system if everything seems to be working just fine?

        Today’s ASTRO 25 systems are modern IP based computer networks with similar maintenance requirements of most IT systems. CIOs and IT Directors around the world are accustomed to the pace of change for hardware, software, routers, gateways and servers, and have come to expect the need for a robust lifecycle plan to stay current and operating at peak efficiency. It is no different with an ASTRO 25 system, for critically important reasons:

        Improve Performance and Stability
        In addition to hardware, your ASTRO 25 radio system includes multiple software components, such as operating systems, drivers and interfaces, that are provided by different developers. Over time, developers release software patches to improve performance and stability. Upgrading to the latest ASTRO 25 software release gives you the benefits of the latest performance improvements, as well as compatibility and support that comes standard with the software of these vendors.

        Access New Features and Capabilities
        As networks have grown in size, complexity and cost, the days of installing a system, using it until it is obsolete, and then buying a replacement are past. The expectations of today’s radio user is rapidly changing, and Motorola Solutions continues to develop new features and solutions to respond to this demand. Your radio system needs to evolve to be ready to accept these enhancements. Fortunately, ASTRO 25 is built on a modern IP platform with many of the newest capabilities enabled by easy-to-install software licenses. Keeping your system upgraded with the latest software gives you access to the broadest range of features and capabilities that can meet the demands of your users.

        Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks
        Cybercrime continues to rise and attackers are constantly evolving their methods. LMR networks are not immune to viruses nor malicious attacks. A strong security posture is required to protect your ASTRO 25 system or you risk communication disruption or privacy invasions that can impact CAD, records, and any interconnected inter-agency radio systems that is configured for interoperability. LMR systems are no longer “closed networks” and every connection is a possible point of intrusion. Running the latest software versions with the latest commercial antivirus definitions and security patches is vital to protect against external attack. And if you haven’t conducted a policy update for a while, consider scheduling a cybersecurity professional risk assessment to further ascertain areas that require attention within your operations.

        Control Total Cost of Ownership
        By upgrading your ASTRO 25 system to the latest software release you can sign up for a sustainment program from Motorola Solutions which allows you to plan and control your spending and performance with a predictable budget. This program allows you to get the most value from your network through regular technology updates, with no surprise support gaps or unplanned costs. Contact your Motorola Solutions representative for further information about our Advanced Plus Service.

        Learn more about the importance of maintaining an updated network. Visit for more information.

        Robert D. Buethe, MSSSI Vice President Americas Managed and Support Services