Is the “Holy Grail” for emergency services agencies is interoperability?
In several countries around the world, Governments are taking steps to implement communications networks for public safety and first responder agencies. This is the next step in providing critical intelligence and delivering improved situational awareness to emergency services personnel.
Developing and building these purpose-built networks is slow and expensive, and problematic for the government to implement.
The USA: FirstNet is well underway with AT&T been selected to build the network, expected costs and completion dates have not yet been disclosed yet.
The UK: ESN (ESMCP) is in a different position: The Emergency Services Network (ESN) is an ambitious program to provide a critical national service, using technology that is still being developed, to a challenging timescale set by the UK Government. It looks as if the current target date for delivering ESN will not be met. Emergency services seem not that keen to use the network until they are firmly convinced that it works, which may require more testing and assurance work than the current December 2019 delivery date.
Canada, South Korea, Finland, and Belgium also have public Safety Mobile Broadband Network projects in the pipeline but are all at various stages.
The Australian Federal Government via the Productivity Commission has investigated by way of a first principles analysis the need for a Public Safety National Broadband Network and has concluded in January 2016 that a hybrid system network would be the best outcome for the Australian environment, with a 2020-time frame.
The Federal Government has said in a joint media release in November 2016:
“We are committed to working with all states and territories towards achieving an interoperable PSMB capability and will establish a committee of Commonwealth, State and Territory officials to consider fully scoped proposals and report to the Council of Australian Governments in 2017”.
The PSA agencies that responded to the Productivity Commission review all stated that they believed a purpose-built network is the only way to meet their needs.
The PSA’s appear to have three major concern with a hybrid network solution:
1) Availability: The current commercial networks currently can’t provide mission critical availability.
2) Security: Highly secured networks are required.
3) Network / Hardware Lock-In: Agencies were concerned regarding being locked into a single vendor.
In Australia do we wait for Government or do we work with what we have?
The “Holy Grail” for emergency services agencies is interoperability, ways to share mission-critical real-time voice, video, location data and other information currently kept in disparate data silos. Plus, agencies should be able to use their existing technologies and add any innovative technology as it becomes available.
There are many apps for a push to talk, messaging, mapping and other tasks that are part of daily life for the public, but finding a solution with all these capabilities that have been developed for the mission critical environment has not been deployed for public safety users in Australia.
Currently, there are many apps for a push to talk, messaging, mapping and other tasks that are part of daily life for the public, but finding a solution with all these capabilities that have been developed for the mission critical environment has not been deployed for PSA’s in Australia.
What is possible today?
Currently, in the USA and other regions, there are many Federal, State and Local agencies connected to a highly secure purpose built network that provides true interoperability, the Interoperable Response and Preparedness Platform (IRAPP) Network delivers interoperability allowing connectivity of disparate systems, hardware, and media on an ad hoc basis to public safety agencies, educational institutions, and private enterprises. The network is transport agnostic, device agnostic and media agnostic. It leverages agencies and groups current communications assets and incorporates new devices as needed.
The network is transport agnostic, device agnostic and media agnostic. It leverages agencies and groups current communications assets and incorporates new devices as needed.
The IRAPP gives agencies access to real-time information (frontline, forward command station or operational command personnel back at HQ) whether they’re using a radio on a land mobile radio network or a smartphone on a broadband network. Users can seamlessly connect voice communications, video feeds and share location information via a “drag and drop” menu to create a talk group, share live video and other data.
The IRAPP is highly secure, it requires the authentication of users, devices, and infrastructure, and all media is encrypted. The solution also features convenient single sign-on requiring users to log in only once to access all applications. Once logged in users have access to a common user list that carries groups and contact lists of their agency and other agencies on the network.
These public safety mobile applications, which are available now, can be deployed using a flexible, cost-efficient “software-as-a-service” model.
See how public safety applications deliver mobile intelligence to users in the field