This July, for the first time, we opened the doors of the Mission Critical Solutions Centre (MCSC) located in Motorola Solutions’ Basingstoke headquarters to the European press. The facility, a combination of test lab and live demonstration centre, has been designed specifically to address the needs for new public safety applications and services. These will be needed to support evolving mission critical voice and data communications for organisations across Europe and Africa.
Users of TETRA already have access to mission critical data services - including situational awareness video - but in order to cater for higher bandwidth data applications such as high-definition video, and to support the wider use of data, Public Safety organisations are now looking at refreshing their networks. itPolska observes that by combining TETRA / TETRA Enhanced Data Service (TEDS) and commercial LTE technology, networks are beginning to migrate to integrated critical communications. “This process requires standardisation arrangements between different organisations (3GPP LTE, ETSI) and manufacturers.”
This was the focus of the report on the MCSC by the BBC’s flagship technology programme Click which considered the proliferation of data available to first responders. heise.de reported that police work today is increasingly characterised by dynamic situation reports, Big Data and live video. This will be driven in part by the police officer of the future; equipped with helmet camera, computer glasses and numerous personal sensors, connected over the radio, via TETRA, smartphone and a tablet, with a patrol car as a travelling wireless hotspot.
Disruptive Analysis observed that the use of LTE for public safety was, “One of very few opportunities for monetising QoS-enabled 4G networks.” heise.de noted that police in future would rely either on their own LTE networks or have commercial mobile network operators work together with specialists, such as Motorola Solutions, to deliver public safety requirements. However, Wireless Magazine reported that mission critical networks differ substantially from the way in which commercial mobile operators design and operate their mobile networks. Disruptive Analysis, also pointed out how mobile data traffic on public safety networks will often be very uplink-heavy (as a result of calls, telemetry, and video from scene of incidents). Wireless Magazine quotes Motorola Solutions CTO Paul Steinberg, “It’s more of a 50:50 split compared with consumer networks, which are typically 30% uplink traffic and 70% downlink. Data from the scene of an incident has to go up to command centres, but then it gets sent out again to relevant parties in the field.”
This means that commercial LTE mobile network operators wanting to incorporate mission critical functionality into their networks need to consider dynamic role/incident prioritisation. This is, “when a first responder has a vital video, the bandwidth on that network has to be reprioritised to get that information through in real time,” Paul explains.
This is where the MCSC has an important role to play helping to visualise and then realise operations that can manage the increased flow of mission critical data. As reported by TETRA Today Magazine, with its command and control centre with live TETRA and LTE mobile broadband feeds, the MCSC showed how gathering data “from cameras, smartphones, social media and sensors will provide new levels of intelligence for public safety agencies.” heise.de talks of the rise in analysis of data leading to ‘predictive policing.’ The need is clear; Poland’s itfocus talks about how modern criminals are already turning to “sophisticated tools, allowing for an intensification and synchronisation of criminal activities.”
Extracting actionable intelligence from voice and data networks is what will help agencies meet existing and new operational demands - incident creation, resource allocation, mobilisation, information analysis, and distribution of real time intelligence to manage and control an incident. This is why the MCSC, as a live test lab, is such an important element in the development of technology collaboration for future public safety applications.
Elvan Linberg is Head of Communications, Europe and Africa, Motorola Solutions. Elvan is on LinkedIn
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