The 30th anniversary of Motorola Solutions’ European headquarters in Basingstoke, UK, was recently celebrated with a series of thought provoking presentations on the future of mission critical communications to a gathering of industry analysts and international press. Mission critical communications are undergoing a significant evolution as governments and public safety organisations begin preparations to add 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards-based LTE technology to existing TETRA environments. Against this backdrop: Ericsson CTO, John Cunliffe; Ericsson Head of Technology for National Security and Public Safety, Micael Martell; TCCA CEO Phil Kidner; IHS analyst Jennifer Shortland, and our own CTO, Paul Steinberg, provided a collaborative view for the future - one where TETRA digital radio and LTE mobile broadband come together to enhance capabilities for the 14 million mission critical communications users in the region.
Phil Kidner was quick to establish that TETRA remains the premier voice and data technology installed by critical communications users in more than 130 countries. Many major implementations are still taking place right now. For a combination of TETRA and LTE to deliver on its promise would require resolution of spectrum issues and inadequacies, such as coverage, currently seen in many public networks. Looking forward, Phil said the TCCA would be a strong proponent for standardisation to be implemented within LTE for public safety. He noted that was a key element in the success of TETRA for mission critical applications.
The need for standards was brought into focus when the hunger for more data was demonstrated by Jennifer Shortland. She showed us that not only was a high uptake of data already being seen, but that 20-30% of land mobile radio users are already turning to cellular devices for their mobile data needs. The driving forces of real time video and biometric data - a central element of Paul Steinberg’s presentation – were, Jennifer noted, still limited in terms of the applications that can be used over public networks. This is due to spectrum availability, security, resilience and reliability.
Addressing those issues, John Cunliffe and Micael Martell where strong advocates of the scale and the opportunities that LTE brings in terms of delivering data in a fast and meaningful manner for public safety. To achieve this though required close working partnerships to converge TETRA digital radio and broadband architectures, adding the all important mission critical functionality to the LTE standard. Micael observed that for public safety organisations to trust LTE required finding new ways to detect congestion and create mechanisms in the commercial network that would always let priority public safety data through.
Paul Steinberg put the escalating complexity facing public safety organisations into stark relief as a potential data tsunami challenges how real value can be derived for first responders. The flood gates, he demonstrated, are already open, in 60 seconds 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube, 695,000+ status updates are made on Facebook and 98,000+ Tweets are sent. In the US alone, 4 billion hours of CCTV footage is created each year. It is an assault on the senses, and represents a real threat of overwhelming, rather than aiding, already overstretched public safety organisations seeking to derive usable intelligence when responding to major incidents.
Motorola’s Solutions Architect, Mick Rhodes, then presented to the press and analysts a glimpse of the future and a working response to these concerns. Inside the Mission Critical Solutions Centre, public safety applications that combine TETRA and LTE mobile data networks are tested in real world scenarios. In the presented scenario, an explosion at a power plant and further suspicious packages demand an immediate, joined up response from the emergency services as a major incident rapidly develops. For more from Mick on integrating technologies for public safety communications watch the video here.
Mick and his team clearly showed how using only data, dispatchers within the emergency services could mobilise and allocate resources in the field. Then, using streaming video from multiple cameras - fixed, vehicle mounted or body worn - situational awareness could be enabled by real time intelligence and shared between responders with interoperability for voice and short data between public safety LTE, Carrier-LTE, TETRA, WiFi and MotoTrbo.
This real time intelligence was most strikingly demonstrated with the application of facial recognition. This almost instantly indentified and located the primary suspect. His location was then shared collaboratively over LTE to officers in proximity so an arrest could be made. The impressive display showed how, despite the immense amount of data coming over LTE into the command centre, useful real-time intelligence could be generated to safely and quickly resolve the threat.
David Parry is Director, Solutions Marketing EMEA. David is on LinkedIn at uk.linkedin.com/in/davidgparry
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