Cloud technology is encouraging police and emergency services to rethink decades-old ideas about the physically centralised control room, says Fergus Mayne, UK Country Manager and Head of Sales, Motorola Solutions.
For decades we’ve associated the notion of a ‘control room’ with the physical aggregation of call handling resources, people and associated systems at a fixed location. This idea was tested by last year’s pandemic, when the need for social distancing saw police, fire & rescue and ambulance services explore how practices could be adapted to accommodate reduced on-site staffing levels. At the same time, many public sector organisations are flexing to accommodate a shift toward home and remote working that’s rapidly becoming the “new normal” for millions of employees.
Even five years ago, taking mission-critical communication workflows outside the confines of a physical control room would have been technically infeasible. Today we’re some way from seeing frontline emergency call handling and dispatch performed by staff working out of a home office or spare bedroom. Nonetheless blue and amber light services are exploring the benefits of hosting their mission-critical control room applications securely in the cloud rather than on-premises. Enabling more agile operations, decentralising the control room allows personnel to access resources from virtually any location – whether it’s a backup site or an ad hoc incident room established in proximity to the scene of a major incident. Just as significantly, cloudification of the control room unlocks opportunities for collaboration and resource sharing within and between agencies. For example, services dealing with a major incident can draw on additional call handling capacity provided by a partner agency located in a neighbouring region or anywhere in the country.
Come and hear more at BAPCO 2021 where Motorola Solutions' Mark Swift will be hosting the session 'Unchaining the Control Room through the Cloud to provide operational resilience and flexibility' alongside Dave Smith and David Dawe from Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service.
If you've not yet registered for BAPCO you can do so here.
Country Manager and Head of Sales
UK & Ireland
Connect with Fergus on LinkedIn
Updated regulations for the use of Bluetooth wireless devices on the Airwave network bring exciting possibilities for blue light users and the wider mission-critical communications community.
Short-range wireless connections are part of our daily lives. They link phones, smart speakers, gaming consoles, cameras, computers and dozens more devices.
Bluetooth® is the world’s most popular standard for cable-free connection between devices over short distances*, and use of the technology is growing rapidly in public safety applications. These range from control room operator headsets and wireless remote speaker microphones to sensors used with Conducted Energy Devices that activate a body worn camera once the CED is drawn from its holster.
Until recently, however, the UK Home Office has not permitted use of this ubiquitous technology with Airwave TETRA radios. This restriction has been due to concerns about earlier versions of the Bluetooth standard that exposed users of the Airwave service to potential security vulnerabilities.
This situation has changed with recent iterations of the Bluetooth standard that address security as a foremost concern. Of particular interest from a mission-critical communications perspective, Bluetooth 4.2 and subsequent versions (including Version 5 as supported by the new MXP600 TETRA portable radio) offer major enhancements in encryption and authentication to resist various modes of attack by eavesdroppers. These advances are reflected in updated Home Office guidelines, published in January this year, that now permit the use of Bluetooth 4.2 and above - with Secure Connections Only mode - on the Airwave network in specific use cases, subject to a number of conditions.
This change in regulation will have a positive impact on blue light users and the wider mission-critical communications community, opening up new possibilities for Airwave – and the forthcoming ESN – to serve the evolving needs of tomorrow’s connected officers.
Secure Bluetooth connections can enable remote control and interaction between an officer’s TETRA radio and other devices. At its simplest, this could be a wireless earpiece that allows the police officer to hear colleagues’ voices with greater clarity in the noisy environment of a public event or at the scene of an emergency. The wide range of Bluetooth enabled hearing aids and audio accessories can be particularly beneficial for officers who may have difficulties listening to speech through the radio’s built-in speaker.
Enabling the use of Bluetooth on Airwave raises possibilities to connect other devices such as body worn cameras and digital notebooks directly to the network. There’s also the novel potential for interacting with the radio via an app on the officer’s Bluetooth-connected smartphone. This enables simplified workflows with mobile applications by reducing the need for frontline workers to keep switching their attention between devices. For example, accessing radio controls in very dark conditions via their connected smartphone screen may be easier and more convenient for an officer working at night.
As well as improving officers’ situational awareness and task performance, accessing radio functions via a smartphone also supports discreet operations by reducing interest in the activities of a plain-clothed officer by members of the public.
Light, rugged and easy to use, the MXP600 TETRA portable radio is designed and engineered to meet the mission-critical communication needs of today’s frontline workers. Support for Bluetooth® 5 with Secure Connections mode is complemented by powerful end-to-end encryption to resist interception by eavesdroppers.
Country Manager and Head of Sales
UK & Ireland
*Effective operating range between Bluetooth devices is anywhere from over a kilometre to less than a metre.
A Mission-critical Ecosystem that Promotes Powerful Collaboration for Volatile Situations
During my interactions with first responders, they have talked about the unpredictable and constantly changing nature of the situations in which they find themselves on a daily basis and how this requires them to adapt quickly and think on their feet. But, even with all this experience to draw upon, I don’t think anyone was fully prepared for a pandemic such as the one we are currently experiencing.
It seems that Covid-19 has brought a unique set of public safety challenges, which has been compounded by fewer resources, new policies to enforce and additional time needed to deal with incidents.
As many of us have been forced to work, study and socialise on-line, cybercriminals have seized the opportunity, while extremists and terrorists are seeking ways to exploit the pandemic. Restrictions on individual freedoms have also heightened tensions between civilians and police officers, all of which has increased the threat to the safety of your personnel.
Dealing with such daily complexities has created a more pressing demand for rapid, reliable communication to ensure that we are all better prepared and that the communities we serve can be better protected.
An Interconnected, Unified Platform to Underpin Tactical Decision-making and Faster Threat Assessments
Our eco-system of mission-critical voice, video and analytics is designed to optimise situational awareness and real-time intelligence, so that the most important information can flow seamlessly throughout your operation.
It has a modular design which offers the flexibility to choose the solutions best suited to your operations, so that you can be more prepared as situations become less predictable.
Respond Effectively in the Heat of the Moment with the new MXP600 TETRA Radio
At Motorola Solutions, we’re always thinking ahead to find ways to offer first responders greater versatility and to develop technologies that integrate intuitively and seamlessly with your daily operations. Our new MXP600 TETRA radio reinforces your communication lifeline, through its ability to interoperate with the technologies that people in the front line rely on. Designed to promote productivity and keep first responders in the field, the MXP600 is future-proofed to collaborate with other devices such as smartphones and body-worn cameras. So that you have the back-up you need to respond effectively in the heat of the moment.
If you’d like to find out more about how your mission-critical operations can evolve to keep communities and personnel safe, join me at Motorola Solutions’ virtual stand at the digitalPMR Expo from 24-26 November.
You can also contact me at Events@motorolasolutions.com
Keep connected and stay safe.
Country Manager and Head of Sales Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg
Connect With Axel on LinkedIn
Whether you’re policing a local derby in a football stadium and someone’s just scored a 93rd minute winner, or you’re arriving on the scene of a major incident surrounded by wailing sirens, or the wind is howling and the rain is trickling down the back of your neck - you should be able to hear and be heard - communications should not be compromised.
When you’re chasing a suspect through a building or across open countryside where there’s usually border line coverage, you need to know that your vital messages will get through to keep you and your colleagues safe.
We’ve all been there, approaching the end of the shift and you’ve had to remain at a scene. As well as fighting the ground you’re faced with and the unpredictable weather conditions, is your radio tough enough and will your battery make it to the end of the shift?
Then there’s those shifts where you get back to the station and your boss reminds you to drop your radio into the radio manager for an update. You’re tired. Hungry. You want to get home. Updating your radio shouldn’t be a chore, time consuming or costly. It should be something that just happens.
In my 32 years’ policing, a lot has changed, especially as we started to tackle crime in a digital world on top of more traditional crime. It is amazing how fast technology moves and to keep up with the challenges facing policing, your equipment should be fit for the challenge, today and tomorrow.
Despite these challenges, communications remain key and continue to provide our main lifeline. So whatever the situation, wherever you are, whenever the moment - the right radio, makes all the difference.
The MXP600 is a new TETRA portable device that is designed for your daily challenges. We’ve taken time to understand what you want, what is important, and what helps you in the moments that matter. This has all been key in developing a radio that offers frontline safety, today and tomorrow.
So despite the 93rd minute winner, sirens or wind and rain, innovative audio technology means you’ll hear and be heard - it means being able to communicate clearly and keeping you and your colleagues safe.
Even in marginal coverage areas, you can rely on best-in-class coverage to stay connected with the control room and your colleagues.
If you’re in muddy fields, scaling a fence or arresting a struggling suspect, the cop-proof design copes with the physical demands of your role with batteries that outlast even those shifts where there is no end in sight.
At the end of the shift, you can focus on getting back to whatever means the most to you outside of work. Updating your radio doesn't need to be a chore because of secure, more time efficient and cost effective ways to update your radio securely over Wi-Fi.
With the ever changing scope of policing, you can pair your radio securely with a smartphone today for deeper interaction such as searching for talkgroups or sending status or Short Data (SDS) messages - but also prepare you for the challenges of tomorrow.
The MXP600 gives you the confidence and ability to focus on supporting the community, efficiently and effectively, getting the job done safely.
Want to know more?
Register now for your place at the MXP600 Launch Webinar, at 10:00AM (GMT) on Tuesday 10 November 2020.
Learn more about the all-new TETRA portable radio at the MXP600 Showcase
Following over 30 years as a UK police officer in three different forces, Ian’s final role within policing was as the digital operational lead at West Yorkshire Police. During his extensive career, he specialised in public order and firearms command, demonstrating a strong and distinguished pedigree in community policing and partnerships.
Ian is now a specialist software consultant for Europe at Motorola Solutions, working closely with customers to understand their requirements and helping the business deliver the capabilities and outcomes they’re seeking to achieve.
The police service today faces unprecedented challenges; Increasing violent crime, both within society and against Police Officers, a rise in crimes such as fraud and cyber-crime and social/political unrest as a result of the Black Lives Matter protests, all in the setting of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the costs of crime prevention and investigation have increased against a backdrop of budget constraints which has cut the number of frontline officers and support services. For some Police Forces around the world this has driven a more strategic approach to technology acquisition and deployment, and as a result, these organisations are starting to deliver significant operational benefits through more effective policing and criminal justice services.
CHALLENGING TIMES. TIME FOR CHANGE.
In such a rapidly changing environment, existing practices and workflows that rely heavily on manual processes and disparate IT systems simply can’t cope. With data such as crime scene photography, Body Worn Video and CCTV footage stored on different systems, not to mention case files being held on paper, officers spend too much time chasing down information and updating multiple systems and too little time on the frontline. Likewise, control room operators often have to ‘swivel-chair’ manage, moving between information sources and interpreting each in turn. This causes delays in critical decision-making that can seriously compromise a response.
The key is to harness new technology to ensure processes and systems work efficiently. That’s where our ecosystem comes in, the first and only mission-critical ecosystem built specifically for policing. It unifies information onto a single platform so teams get the information they need, when they need it. Imagine how much time an officer would save having to update just one single system instead of a dozen for a single incident. Or how quickly a control room operator could detect an incident and activate a response if all the information was right there in one single pane of glass.
ONE INTERCONNECTED TECHNOLOGY ECOSYSTEM.
The new policing technology ecosystem must bring together control room software applications, digital evidence, video security and analytics and service-critical two-way radio communications into one seamless solution. With these elements working together, police forces can receive real-time data and video information from across the public safety landscape to support each stage of an incident lifecycle. Every police officer and dispatcher is connected and can see the full picture to effectively bring about a successful outcome
TRUSTED MISSION-CRITICAL PARTNER
It’s not all about the solution though. How you deploy and manage that solution is just as important. Today’s ICT projects are increasingly complicated, creating advanced environments that are capable of evolving to support a plethora of new devices, technologies and systems. Often the development of these ICT projects are hampered by having to manage multiple suppliers, each of which may cause additional complications. Utilising a single supplier can result in a lower risk project with improved outcomes for the customer, as well as simplified ongoing maintenance and development.
Navigating through these challenges requires technological expertise and, in the case of police forces, an understanding of how ecosystems work in a public safety environment. With over 90 years of service-critical experience in public safety, supporting over 100,000 emergency services, national security and enterprise customers around the world Motorola Solutions is an ideal partner to choose. We have Public Safety and Security running through our DNA, it’s our only market focus, and all our investments are concentrated on building our end-to-end policing technology ecosystem.
Having the right technology platform and partner on board enables you to address the issues you face now and helps prevent issues occurring in the future. It allows you to plan long term and continuously innovate with confidence so you can drive operational efficiency while optimising cost.
For more about our mission-critical ecosystem and how it works, click here.
Sales Director at Motorola Solutions
Connect with David on LinkedIn
University is often the first time that many young adults spend prolonged periods away from home. This newfound freedom is an exciting time, as they learn new skills, develop new social circles and continue their educational journey.
However, there are risks to students and university staff as often campuses do not have walls and a true cross-section of the public have access, not all of whom have good intentions. Unfortunately this means that university can be the first time that young adults come into contact with crime.
The complete University Guide compiled reported crime statistics and created a league table for universities looking at reported crime in areas where students live.* The data they provide shows three core crime statistics including robbery, burglary and violent or sexual offences and gives values of victims per 1000 people.
The headline figures for universities in England and Wales in 2019 are as follows.
On average (acknowledging the data set is not perfect) there is approximately a 5% chance of being a victim of crime whilst on or near a university campus in term time while the worst-case scenario is as high as nearly 10%.
How can Police forces, institutions and university security help protect staff and students from such criminality and provide a safer public space?
By working together, Police, Public Safety and university security organisations can establish a system of security with layers of redundancy. Creating a database of safe-designated and threat-designated individuals and vehicles allows the Police, University or Campus location oversight teams to develop watchlists of sex offenders, known criminals, disgruntled former employees, barred community members such as gang members and drug dealers, non-custodial parents or estranged partners and ensure they cannot gain access to the most vulnerable campus areas.
The best approach is a multilayered system of passive and active checks that protect against unauthorised access and provide multiple intervention opportunities.
Protection starts off-site and extends right up to your building entrances
All roads approaching and surrounding your university campus or target areas act as an outer perimeter. By placing fixed ANPR cameras in this outer perimeter you can catch a potential threat before it enters the campus proper or simply look for trends of unauthorised vehicles.
The middle perimeter consists of roadways and parking areas that have been identified as high risk or prone to crime. Place additional fixed ANPR cameras in the middle perimeter to let you know when an unauthorised vehicle is on location or take your protection one step further with CCTV security cameras to allow oversight of on-site activities.
Entrances to buildings and sensitive locations are the last line of defence against a potential threat. By utilising an inner perimeter facial recognition system that connects to existing IP CCTV you can identify problematic individuals before they have the chance to act.
By enacting a layered approach and integrating it with an active watchlist, police and on-site security can better monitor ongoing activities while protecting those most vulnerable to crime. To learn more about physical security solutions for universities and educational institutions, visit Vigilant CampusWatch
Strategic Alliance Manager, Video Security & Analytics at Motorola Solutions
Connect with Chris on LinkedIn
*Official data for crime specifically against students at university is not available.