Firefighting Technology: Public Safety Communications Equipment Showcased at APCO Conference

By Mary Jane Dittmar

Manufacturers, developers, and other involved in the quickly evolving public safety communications arena displayed their latest innovations and technology at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International's 78th Annual Conference & Expo in Minneapolis in August.

Some common features of the products included provisions to expand interoperable communications and to put in place systems that not only meet today's growing needs but that also can be adapted to facilitate future needs without excessive cost. Moreover, the new technologies are easy to use and make data immediately accessible to multiple agencies on the same network.

Among the companies and products/services introduced and demonstrated at APCO are the following.  

Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications, headquartered in Melbourne, Florida. 

  • P25 Phase 2 solutions interoperable with P25 Phase 1 and Phase 2 systems and future long-term evolution (LTE) networks. The XG-25 mobile radio effectively assists public safety agencies in transitioning to P25 technology that supports wideband and narrowband channels. It is P25 Phase 2 upgradeable, has integrated P25 (Project 25) Phase 2 solutions with the company's Voice, Interoperability, Data, and Access (VIDA) network, and delivers improved mission-critical interoperability. It includes Enhanced Dynamic Dual Mode (EDDM) operation, which actively determines the most effective call processing at the individual site level instead of defaulting to the lowest common mode of operation across the entire system. EDDM enables Phase 1 calls on one site to interoperate with Phase 2 calls on a different site while using P25 technology at each location.
  • The Adaptive Site Resource Allocation (ASRA) automatically adapts to system call demands and efficiently allocates site channel resources based on customer-definable channel settings and the requested P25 technology. Users can reserve channel resources for specific or a combination of P25 technologies at the site level. Agencies can migrate to the latest technology at their own pace while maintaining an optimal grade of service and maximizing user experience.
  • The BeOn® broadband application is especially suited for public safety
  • supervisors, administrative personnel, and others who don't always carry a traditional land mobile radio (LMR). It brings broadband communications to any LMR; extends the utility of P25, OpenSky2, and EDACS® radio systems by matching their LMR public safety network coverage to anywhere broadband connectivity exists; and becomes the first step toward realizing LMR and long-term evolution (LTE) convergence by enabling push-to-talk (PTT) voice over LTE for P25 commercial cellular network users. LMR users can extend the voice capability of their networks and position them for the eventual integration with the planned nationwide 700 MHz LTE communications network. This application is built from the ground up to support the P25 LMR feature set and is commercially available for desktop PCs through a Windows client as well as for Android devices such as cell phones and tablet computers.
  • The BTC-100 Ruggedized 700 MHz Tablet puts LTE in the hands of first responders; delivers mission-critical voice, video, and data; can transmit and receive data, video, voice, location, and text-based information over public safety broadband networks; provides an intuitive user interface based on the Android operating system; includes front- and rear-facing cameras and noise-cancellation technology to improve the quality of voice communications; and contains integrated Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi for added connectivity, GPS, and internal sensors for location and movement tracking. Contact: Erin  Hoyt, ehoyt@matternow.com.

Motorola Solutions, Inc., a provider of mission-critical communication solutions and services for enterprise and government customers globally.

  • LTE Broadband and Mission-Critical Devices help first responders turn information into intelligence. Applications include integrated command center applications and other computer-aided dispatch solutions, real-time video streaming, tactical collaboration, dynamic mapping and routing, in-field reporting, and push-to-talk (PTT) and voice telephony.
  • MW810 Mobile Workstation R2.0 . Motorola Solutions equipped the latest Ford Interceptor Sedan patrol vehicle with a full set of next-generation communications equipment including integrated cockpit controls, built-in PTT, remote siren, light and door lock controls, and LTE-enabled data applications running on the powerful MW810 Mobile Workstation R2.0.
  • The  LEX 700 Mission Critical Handheld Public Safety LTE device assists first responders in monitoring the environment, gathering information, and being more aware. First and secondary responders gain access to intuitive multimedia applications that enhance tactical collaboration and enable greater in-field productivity. Accessories include a new public safety vehicle cradle, rack-mountable multidevice and multibattery chargers, and a public safety-grade holster. The company is working with independent software vendors to provide new applications for the LEX 700. 
  • The 700 MHz LTE interoperable broadband public safety network established for the San Francisco Bay Area (BayWEB); the state of Mississippi; and Harris County, Irving, and Fort Worth, Texas, were demonstrated.   
  • The APX 4500 Project 25 (P25) mobile radio was introduced. It provides customers with P25 interoperable communications so that all first responders can communicate during emergency situations.
  • Demonstrated how today's and tomorrow's devices, applications, and sensors connected over P25 and Public Safety LTE networks tethered to incident command will help first responders be safer, smarter, and more efficient. Featured applications include wearable cameras and sensors, advanced collaboration applications, and the new Tactical Incident Command Solution for APX P25 radios, which enables enhanced fireground roll call of more than 200 personnel within minutes.
  • The new APX 3000 P25 radio combined with Mission-Critical Wireless covert audio accessories helps undercover officers use a high-power concealed radio to blend into their surroundings while staying in constant communication.
  • A unified messaging service demonstration showed how Motorola integration services can enable secure sharing of text messages and presence information between ASTRO 25 radios, Public Safety LTE devices, tablets, and PC-based email clients.
  • The next-generation command center demonstrated how dispatchers' workflows are streamlined with the new PremierOne Suite 3.2.1. Suite enhancements include integration with data-capable APX radios and local language support by region and integrated fixed and mobile video systems, which make it easier to capture, analyze, and quickly share video. Contact: steve.gorecki@motorolasolutions.com

Radio IP Software Inc. a developer of advanced Mobile Virtual Private Network (MVPN) software solutions.

The 1,000 mobile client devices added to the CSPQ, the Quebec government organization that manages the telecommunications network services for provincial public safety agencies, other human resources, and emergency and transport services across the province, were displayed. These additions represent the culmination of more than 10 years of working with the CSPQ.

The network includes public 2G, 3G, and 4G cellular infrastructures that leverage critical private data and provide secure, uninterrupted communications that enable all users to gain access to critical data and applications in real time. Without having to handle the devices and with no downtime, IT administrators from multiple organizations can manage their policies and applications across a fleet of client devices. The solutions are suited to small and large enterprises and military, public safety, utilities, transportation, and government agencies with mission- or business-critical communication requirements. Contact: Frank.Draper@radio-ip.com.

Tait Communications designs, delivers, and manages communications solutions for utilities and public safety organizations globally.

The latest P25 solutions were showcased with the unveiling of its Phase 2 TDMA portfolio. With the TN9400 network at its heart, this Phase 2 solution provides both 12.5kHz P25 Phase 1 FDMA operation and a software upgrade path to 6.25kHz-equivalent P25 Phase 2 TDMA compliance.

The TB9400 base station features IP connectivity, Phase 2 upgradeability, linear simulcast modulation (LSM), and remote network management. It enables first responder effectiveness and safety with internal GPS, Bluetooth® wireless technology, IP67 protection, and AES encryption.

The TM9400 features AES encryption and over-the-air rekeying capabilities, offers various emergency modes, and is IP54 rated, which help ensure safe and efficient for those relying on the mobiles. An options slot extends the device's capabilities and offers a range of remote-mounting, control-head, and display options.

TriTech Software Systems provides communications products and services for public safety agencies of any size and type.

Inform Public Safety Suite, which automates the flow of information to each user, made its debut. Information flows from the initial 9-1-1 call and incident creation to coordinating response between dispatch and the field to incident close for records and jail management, and reporting and analytics for intelligence-driven response and operations. The Suite includes Inform 9-1-1, Inform Computer Aided Dispatch, Inform Mobile, Inform Field-Based Reporting, Inform Records Management Systems, Inform Jail, and Inform IQ data warehouse and business intelligence. It maximizes real-time access to data for immediate reuse by every user of the system, whether in dispatch, in the field, or in the station.  Contact: laura.weinhofer@tritech.com

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New World Systems' Dashboards "2012 Hot Product"

New World Systems' Aegis Decision Support and Dashboards was named a "012 Hot Product" by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International and Public Safety Communications (PSC) magazine.

Decision Support and Dashboards, part of a fully integrated suite of Aegis Public Safety (Troy, Michigan) solutions developed by New World, facilitate at-a-glance information for command staff and supervisors who can quickly and easily analyze and trend information through charts, graphs, and key performance indicators to improve emergency response and plan proactive initiatives.

A panel of public safety communications professionals selects the Hot Product award each year at the APCO International Conference. The award recognizes the best and most innovative new public safety products that improve safety and efficiency for telecommunicators and first responders. For additional information: www.newworldsystems.com.

Mary Jane DittmarMary Jane Dittmar is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and conference manager of FDIC. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelor's degree in English/journalism and a master's degree in communication arts.

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