Sep 13, 2012

Broadband Data Connectivity for Mission Critical PSS users

The demand for savings and efficiency increase are a constant struggle in public safety. Still no one is willing to jeopardize the functionality and the service level of the operations. The risks of modern world, including terrorist attacks or nature catastrophes, are in fact increasing. This leaves the actors to think about the capabilities of modern technology. Better communication has improved efficiency in other fields, why shouldn’t it accomplish similar effects in public safety.

The mobile connectivity has changed the lives of everyone. With the boom of handheld smartphones every user understands the benefits and capabilities of the wireless internet. Simultaneously most of the public safety operators lack behind in TETRA –type or even older analog technologies. It is difficult to understand why an expensive public safety vehicle shouldn’t have the same or better capabilities than most of the teenagers have in their pockets.

Efficient modern public safety organizations demand access to databases like patient records, criminal registers, stolen car registers and even building drawings. This all could be realized by saving the all necessary data inside the vehicle computers, as done often, but this approach creates problems with updating the files. A key imperative is that this data is always up to date, since otherwise our security and health is endangered.

Services are the key

The idea of the broadband availability in vehicles is quite simple. How could we improve the operations if all necessary data was available there where it is first needed?  Services that are needed in the vehicles include
  • biometric checks
  • database queries
  • image and file transfer
  • location based services
  • and ultimately streaming video
Information sharing between jurisdictions will be important when making PSS operations more effective. This means collecting and forwarding data between the officers various jurisdiction data bases. If we are happy with current voice based queries and in best cases SMS-type data services, all these applications are impossible. It is obvious that broadband capability that fits the public safety requirements is the imperative for efficiency improvement. This creates the next dilemma. What is needed from the PSS broadband solution technically and how can we afford it?

No need for dedicated broadband networks

Current PRM systems cannot offer required data capacity for above mentioned broadband applications. Simultaneously no single existing commercial broadband network can offer needed coverage, availability and reliability. The cost of building a suitable dedicated PSS broadband network is through the roof and thus out of question.

The only way to tackle this techno-economical problem is multi-channel routing technology. The multi-channel router technology offers means to utilize existing parallel commercial and private networks. Multi-channel routers need to be populated with several parallel wireless terminals supporting a wide variety of different radio technologies or operators’ networks. Routing of mission critical traffic need be performed always using the best network available.

A solution is needed, not just boxes

The target of the public safety vehicle is to use it efficiently. Since routing elements are outside office premises the solution requires means to maintain and control the terminals and routers. For this reason a remote device management, which allows easy and accurate management of installed devices, is required. Through this remote management system administrator can monitor and control the utilization of different networks and even further optimize the usage of available capacities based on the collected usage information. This all saves money and brings the Total Cost of Ownership to an acceptable level. It is also a safety issue. When actually no configuration is possible inside the vehicle, the control of the connectivity remains always centralized.

Future proof solution

Adaptation to new emerging LTE technology will also be much easier and smoother if broadband connectivity is introduced to the field users using already broadband data. The new services that demand extremely high bandwidths can be easily introduced on top of the exiting platforms. The multichannel approach enables the usage of LTE where it is implemented and the next best alternative elsewhere. As the LTE networks grow, the coverage for these services will gradually improve.

The good news is that this is all available today. Advanced public safety operators use this type of system efficiently today. There is no reason why a similar system should not benefit all the officers in the 3,3 Million public safety vehicles in the world!