Mobile Broadband Networks for PAS’s
Australia has had its fair share of disasters during floods, bushfires, and cyclones plus other man made catastrophes. Recently we have had the Lindt Café siege and other near misses with potential home grown terrorism that might be seen as a major disaster if these people had managed to follow through on their plans, but we are lucky that in Australia that we have not had any major incident like the London Bombings or Boston Marathon Bombing.
During major incident or even during routine day to day events PSAs and Government departments like Boarder Security, AFP and ASIO need to communicate effectively within their own group and across other jurisdictions and should be able to do so via the latest technologies which include Mobile Broadband Networks.
The Australian Federal Government via the Productivity Commission has commissioned a study for Public Safety Mobile Broadband and have been taking submissions from interested parties for the next wave of advanced communications for PSA’s
“A robust and effective mobile broadband capability is a critical enabler for Australia’s PSAs. Since June 2011, the Commonwealth has worked with jurisdictions and PSAs – through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) Steering Committee – to consider how best to deliver a strong PSMB capability. On 19 April 2013, COAG transferred responsibility for PSMB from the Steering Committee to COAG Senior Officials and, in doing so, noted the need for PSAs to have adequate capabilities to respond efficiently and effectively when disasters occur.”
When you read the submissions from the PSA groups who have responded there seems to be a distrust in that the current mobile broadband networks in Australia are not reliable and or have not been able to provide, especially in rural areas the coverage to meet the mission critical standards required for emergency services.
These groups also state in their responses that these new mobile networks are part of their current strategy in delivering communication solutions to their end user, but there seems to be little or no interoperability between their systems and other jurisdictions.
In Australia we have a unique situation, whilst the mobile phone networks cover most of the population the actually percentage of the Australian landmass covered by commercial network operators is low. Telstra is the only provider that publicly states its landmass coverage at 2.3 million square kilometres, corresponding to about 29.9 % of Australia.
Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have all launched LTE networks in the capital cities, with Vodafone announcing they have started rolling out its VoLTE service.
The NBN could provide a unique opportunity for PSAs to access additional broadband capacity, in addition to network redundancy. As the NBN is being deployed and connectivity could be to the vast majority of homes, schools and business across the nation, easy access could be enabled for PSA’s to use during incidents at major venues or random locations. The NBN could provide a unique solution for the Australian environment providing superior capacity as well as network redundancy, if used in conjunction with these new networks being rolled out by the major network providers.
“Why is this so hard?”
The need to upgrade the Australian PSA’s communications networks has been has been on the agenda since the US 9/11 attack in 2001. The latest terrorist and natural disaster incidents in Australia has not seemed to fast track any major upgrade to our local networks.
In the USA they are working to build the national first responder network: FirstNet
“A fundamental goal of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is to enable multimedia communication and collaboration capability between all first responder agencies.”
Even without the natural disasters and destruction that eventuated from cyclones in Queensland or bushfires in Victoria and New South Wales both state and federal agencies operating as ‘separate silos’ in regards to setting up their own individual communications networks, each set up by a different vendor, led to a complex web of communications issues to which there was no easy fix. There has been discussion about interoperability between agencies in the wake these events, but no real action has taken place here in Australia.
Adapting to the need
Early adopters of interoperable technology, like some of the major radio network suppliers (Motorola and Tait) and mobile network vendors, went in different directions in terms of offering unique solutions as they attempted to stand out from the crowd.
With the need to communicate with multiple agencies during both crisis events and day to day operations PSA Groups have found both benefits and disadvantages when it comes to radio network and mobile broadband vendors.
One company that found a unique way to approach the market was Mutualink, based in the USA with business partner all over the globe.
A different approach
While some communications vendors in the market were looking at radio networks and how to make their proprietary network function within other frequencies and network infrastructures (at the same time keeping agencies locked in with their product sets), Mutualink looked at the ability to encompass as many devices under the one umbrella that had the potential to communicate—from radio communications to smartphones, tablet PC’s and even CCTV.
Because of this capability Mutualink has seen its products deployed in not just the PSA and first responder markets, but federal, state and local government agencies, hospitals, shopping centres, schools and private industry, all with a focus on making their communications resources available, should the need arise in any incident.
Mutualink’s solutions (software and hardware) operate independent of any need to be linked to a specific mobile network provider or device. It seamlessly integrates into any communications technology through their encrypted secure IP-based multimedia overlay network that allows each agency 100 percent sovereignty over its communications infrastructure and data. Interoperability is achieved through their Edge technology installed on IOS, Android and Windows devices. The Mutualink Network Interface Controllers (NICs) enable the integration of telephone, radio, video, IP-based communications (VoIP) or data into a secure digital networked system. Interoperability is managed by Mutualink’s software that can then be accessed via user interface on mobile or desktop PCs or handheld devices that can invite other agencies to join an incident or session.
Sessions can be agreed to and planned in advanced by triggered events like the pushing of a panic button by a school to manage a crisis situation. This technology can be managed by either a dispatcher in a command centre, communications manager or any number of assigned individuals charged with running the restricted access levels.
This approach provides an agency the luxury of not being locked in to any particular supplier for communications equipment and opens up the possibilities for agencies or groups to use more than one mobile broad band supplier when looking at overall communications functionality and choosing the right devices and technology that best suits their agency needs.
Media cohesion is the methodology by which users of one media type can share communications with users of other media types (e.g. LTE to LMR) and is in use by hundreds of first responders today. This approach eliminates silos, creating seamless interoperability for agencies in the same community or across the country without forcing them to change the technology that they use daily.
To Understand more watch this short video: Why Interoperability
For More Information Contact Push2Talk
Also contact Mutualink