It is hard to imagine a future in which two-way radio is not the primary communications…
Emergency situations are often random and unpredictable; the who, what and where communications that will be required during an incident might not be known until the incident unfolds.
Furthermore, emergency environments are not static events; as incidents evolve new primary, secondary and tertiary effects can rapidly emerge. Therefore, collaboration could be needed with those in both remote and immediate proximity. This complex inter-dependency of the real world requires a communications approach which serves this dynamic.
Today focusing on and updating radio systems only address part of the required incident response solution. In the last several years the availability of new communications capabilities and the recognized need to involve more than just public safety agencies have changed the view of what is required to effectively communicate, collaborate and coordinate emergency responses.
If you follow the industry news, blog feeds and advertising most of the two-way radio manufacturers are endeavouring or have integrated LTE to LMR, why?
Although it is essential, a two-way radio may no longer be sufficient to effectively respond to incidents or an event that may require multi-agency first responders.
In Australia, we are extremely fortunate that we have the well trained and dedicated first responders who are ranked among the world’s best, but do they have the best communications systems, systems that are truly interoperable?
It is hard to imagine a future in which two-way radio is not the primary communications method used in responding to and coordinating emergency responses. As an example, two-way radio’s ability to communicate from one to many and operate anywhere while independent of any infrastructure when users are at the incident’s scene is one of the reasons that two-way radio will always be a vital resource.
But, as we move closer to a Public Safety Mobile Broadband Network (PSMBN) things will change. As the PSMBN business model has not been finalised here in Australia and it will be some way off before a network is built, tested and rolled out how do we provide first responders and other groups the ability to gain interoperability during incidents whether man-made or due to a natural disaster.
To provide the best response public safety agencies and critical infrastructure organizations need communications systems interoperability. Today, solutions require systems that go beyond basic radio interoperability to provide LMR to LMR, LMR to LTE, real-time video sharing and geospatial data availability.
Show not Tell
A video should complement, not replace, voice, to reinforce and give depth to your spoken word.
Sometimes when responding to emergencies, words fail us. Sometimes we don’t know fully how to describe what we’re seeing. Words can be subjective. But live streaming video puts the person on the receiving end in the moment, in the thick of the action. They can ask questions about what they’re seeing to gain clarity, rather than interpreting someone else’s words.
Responding to many of today’s incidents requires a community-wide, multimedia collaborative approach that involves several types of communication systems. Of importance is the capturing and sharing of real-time video from the incident’s scene with agency and enterprise personnel at dispatch and command centres. Even the newest, most advanced two-way radio systems cannot accommodate multimedia due to fundamental design limitations.
Now more than ever, the ability to interoperate during emergencies is critical to quickly resolving incidents with the best outcomes. If you’re looking to share information with first responders, a picture is worth a thousand words, and video is worth a hundred images. So, think about these benefits when considering how you collaborate within your agency, as well as with other agencies or groups.
Resolve Incidents Quickly
Video conveys more in a minute than words alone can, so by sharing video from the scene of an accident, the dispatcher or emergency room personnel can engage more fully with what first responders are telling them. In addition to what they’re being told, they may see something that will aid in their evaluation of the scene or patient and enable more appropriate action. With the proliferation of CCV cameras and private video management systems, as well as personal smartphones, a video is more available than ever.
Leverage Existing Resources
Now more than ever, people increasingly turn to their mobile devices for information, which often comes in the form of video. Similarly, virtually every person today is equipped with a video camera in their smartphone – a powerful tool for communication. Also, surveillance video, often used for forensic reconstruction, could be shared in real time with current technology, doubling the value of the investment in cameras and video management systems. With the awaited availability of PSMBN sharing of video among public safety agencies will be further enhanced, with a dedicated bandwidth available to first responders.
Provide Advance Situational Awareness
Advance intelligence provides not only information but instills confidence. When first responders can recognize an environment, say an office building or shopping complex they can better predict threats and be better oriented on arrival. Video shared from these environments requires less thought on the part of responding officers and enables them to visualize the needed action better than the description, “The main hallway goes off to the left; the other hallway goes straight”. The voice description and video together provide a full picture.
So, what’s available today?
During an emergency timely resolution saves lives. During daily activities, quick access to individuals cuts down on steps. Designed to bring Incident Command Systems (ICS) best practices to the device first responders use daily @ team multimedia push2 talk turns your Android or iOS device into optimal situational awareness tool.