On-call public safety personnel and emergency service volunteers such as first responder paramedics and volunteer firefighters must be contactable at all times to respond to emergency calls. Secure and reliable communications are essential if they are to respond to the call for help and save lives. But what are the key things you should consider when looking for an alerting solution for them?
1. What type of alerting device do you need?
Today’s smartphones might seem to be the best choice but can suffer from poor battery life and lack of coverage - letting you down in times of emergency. The latest generation of pagers can do a better job as they have long battery life and high receiver sensitivity to give you greater coverage in buildings and built up areas.
These pagers can work for hours on end when out and about without a charge. They are also compact and easily incorporated into everyday lives – at work, home or out and about. Well designed pagers are intuitive to use so a user can immediately understand the message sent. I recommend you look for a pager with a robust and rugged design (to reduce failure rates).
2. Does it run on a trusted, secure and reliable network?
The next thing to consider is the communications network - is it secure and resilient? Consider the security offered by the alerting system’s network infrastructure - is it secure from eavesdropping or traffic analysis by hackers? Is it vulnerable to replay attacks? TETRA networks use standards-based Air Interface Encryption to address public safety security requirements while avoiding vendor lock-in.
In addition to security, also think about the resilience you need from your alerting system. In an emergency situation you need to be able to rely on the network to contact your teams. Unfortunately, it is often in such crisis situations that commercial cellular networks become congested, and in extreme cases, even break down. TETRA networks offer mission-critical, dedicated communications infrastructure that provides the necessary levels of resilience and availability for emergency services alerting.
Using TETRA paging devices with built-in GPS receivers can also allow the dispatcher to see where the closest available resources are and alert them first.
3. Does it provide two-way communication?
Assembling your team quickly and getting them onsite to the incident is vital. Your alerting solution plays a key role in how effective you’ll be. If the paging system is only one way, several call-outs often need to be sent to ensure that alerting messages are received. Additionally, the absence of acknowledgement messages in one-way alerting systems means the dispatcher is unaware of who has accepted and therefore, whether additional call-outs to other teams are required, ultimately leading to control centres ‘over-alerting’.
Two-way paging systems minimise over-alerting costs by providing real-time status information of the recipients of call-out messages. They allow responders to instantly feedback their status to the control centre so the time to alert the required number of volunteers and hence response time is significantly reduced.
4. Is it based on open-standards?
I recommend you avoid vendor lock-in situations by investing in solutions that are based on open standards, rather than any based on proprietary authentication and encryption. TETRA is an ETSI open standard. As TETRA paging systems leverage standardised Air Interface Encryption, End-to-end-Encryption, they offer multi-vendor alternatives.
Consider also the need for scalability in your alerting system, especially when dispatching teams to major incidents. In addition to supporting standalone operation, modern alerting systems provide application programming interfaces to allow CAD systems to send and respond to paging messages. Integrating with the CAD system enables more precise targeting of call-out messages based on role, status and location.
5. Who is the right partner?
As one of the world’s leading suppliers of TETRA solutions, Motorola Solutions is a partner you can rely on. We designed our ADVISOR TPG2200 TETRA two-way pager to be simple to use, even with one hand. You can quickly read and respond to messages with a bright, 2” colour display and familiar user interface. Carry this pager anywhere too, without it getting in the way thanks to a lightweight, compact design. And, since the TPG2200 is IP54 rated for dust and water protection, you know it will keep working even when exposed to the elements. Find out more about ADVISOR TPG2200 TETRA two-way pager here.
Our TETRA Pager is in use on the UK’s Airwave TETRA Network with North West Ambulance Service - check out the press release here.
You can also check out our in-depth guide: ‘Things to consider when looking for an alerting solution for emergency responders.’
Fergus Mayne is Head of UK & Ireland Sales at Motorola Solutions
Motorola Solutions at Mission Critical Technologies London, Excel, stand MCT404, 12-13 June 2019
Every day, public safety users rely on effortless and reliable communications. They call it their lifeline. From mission-critical services and command centre software through to secure and reliable radio solutions, our technology is helping to advance that communications lifeline - preparing today’s public safety users with the information they need, so that they are ready when the moment comes.
Come and see this in action on the Motorola Solutions stand MCT404 at this year’s Mission Critical Technologies event. Let us show you how we can help in 4 key areas from ‘optimised incident response’, ‘having eyes on the scene in seconds’, through to ‘streamlined evidence collection’ and ‘enhance community safety’.
Solutions we will be demonstrating at the event, supporting these areas, include:
We’ve been busy with pre-conference activities too. I was fortunate to take part in a pre-conference webinar on ‘The Future Command and Control Room’ This was hosted by Bernard Rix, Publisher of Policing Insight, and featured the real experience of Andrew White, Assistant Chief Officer Resources of Lincolnshire Police. This was recorded and is available on-demand now at: http://bit.ly/FutureCR1
Headline speakers in the main conference include:
I look forward to seeing you in London.
You can register for a free ticket at https://tmt.knect365.com/mission-critical-technologies/
Yann Marston is Strategic Sales Director at Motorola Solutions
Follow @MotSolsEMEA on Twitter and look out for #ThinkPublicSafety. You can keep up to date with the event on social media by following @MCTSeries.
Eye-Opening Finding from our Inaugural LMR System Management Survey
Land mobile radio (LMR) system management has come a long way since the days of analogue-only radios and manual support services. Maintaining today’s software-centric LMR system requires a new set of tools and expertise. This paradigm shift brings its own set of challenges, benefits, and considerations.
To understand how LMR system management trends are evolving, we conducted an inaugural study on the way systems are managed across the globe.
We received 120 respondents from 24 countries, representing public safety, government agencies, and enterprise organisations in a range of business- and mission-critical industries. Our research uncovered some interesting trends, especially about network monitoring.
It is widely understood that network monitoring is crucial for a healthy LMR system and the results from our survey support this. But what was especially eye-opening is just how critical network monitoring really is. Our research reveals that organisations that monitor their systems 24x7x365 have had nearly 50 percent fewer outages in the past year than those that do not.
And yet, networking monitoring is not a given. In fact, almost a third of survey respondents do not monitor their LMR systems 24x7x365. Like similar communication environments, LMR networks generate thousands of system alarms on a daily basis. And while leading networking monitoring software allows system managers to pinpoint critical alarms faster, these resources require a large investment in tools and staff, including a sophisticated network operations centre (NOC).
Almost 20 percent of organisations that do not monitor their network 24x7x365 say their internal IT support staff is simply too small to provide around-the-clock service. Half cited budget constraints as the main impediment to robust monitoring.
For both, partnering with an outside service provider can provide the necessary support. Along with delivering the skills that may be hard to hire in-house, outside providers can often offer partnerships that take smaller budgets into account with manageable monthly payments.
You can download the full 2018 Motorola Solutions LMR System Management Benchmark Survey Report
We can help too. Our mission is to ensure that your LMR system works seamlessly, is safeguarded, and can adapt to new operational complexities and technology changes. Motorola Solutions offers best-in-class universal support, maintenance tools, resources and a global team of experts who have an intimate knowledge of LMR systems and associated technologies.
Graeme is Director Global Infrastructure Services Product Management at Motorola Solutions
Follow #ThinkPublicSafety, @MotsolsEMEA on Twitter