5 Important Safety Features of a Two Way Radio

July 2, 2016

5 Important Safety Features of a Two Way Radio

The Sepura Group to Provide Communications for the Olympic Games

June 18, 2016

It’s a brave move by the olympic organisers, the London Olympic communications was run by Riedel and they did an excellent job, they have experience in this field, but the Brazilians are obviously set on using Teltronic and we all hope that they do just as good as a job.

Teltronic, part of the Sepura Group, has been chosen by the public security secretary of Río de Janeiro State in Brazil to supply communications for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, informally known as Rio 2016.

The €10m contract will cover four venues (Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Deodoro and Maracanã), two airports (Rio de Janeiro/Galeão – Antônio Carlos Jobim International and Santos Dumont) and several key transport routes in the Olympic area.

The agreement with Teltronic will see an extension to the traffic capabilities of the existing Teltronic network currently used by the Rio police, as well as the installation of further Nebula base stations to provide additional coverage for the state police and emergency services, and the Olympics organisation workforce.

The existing network was originally provided by Teltronic for the Pan American Games in 2007 and, after some upgrades, is now supporting over 100 dispatch operators and more than 18,000 radios. This new upgrade for the Olympics will feature two extra TETRA carriers for each site, to update the capacity of the existing network; base stations with up to 12 TETRA transceivers to support high traffic loads throughout the event; a CeCoCo Control Centre, to accommodate a further 50 dispatch operators; an additional 6,000 terminals featuring Teltronic’s Synchronous Data Manager application to pare down the GPS refresh time in AVL applications; and 24/7 maintenance and operational support during the Games.

“This win builds on our long-term relationship with the Brazilian authorities and public safety agencies,” said Paulo Ferrao, the Sepura Group’s sales director for Brazil.

“We have a strong background in events of this scale, having supported communications for the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Pan-American Games, both huge events in the sporting calendar of Brazil and, indeed, the world. We are delighted that Rio de Janeiro’s public safety agencies have, once again, placed their trust in us.”

Superintendent of critical communications at the Security Secretariat of the State, Colonel Alexandre Corval, commented: “We are extremely happy to have chosen Teltronic.

“The company has been a trustworthy partner to our public safety agencies for over ten years. Once again, they have exceeded our expectations in terms of technical development, quality of the deployment and, above all, their dedication to customer service: throughout the project, they have paid close attention to our technical and operational requirements.

“We are confident that this extension to the existing Teltronic TETRA system will optimise our mission-critical communications, enhancing the security of both visitors and employees throughout Rio 2016.”

Source- http://www.railway-technology.com/contractors/signal/sepura/pressolympic-sepura-brazil.html

Musician sues Royal Opera House over ruined hearing

May 25, 2016

It is quite a common thing that musicians and artists that are exposed to loud noise, will eventually suffer from hearing damage. We have seen many artists suffer from this career threatening damage, the likes of Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Ozzy Osbourne and the tinnitus that is effecting Chris Martin from Coldplay, this is a problem that many more will be affected by. This article from the BBC talks about Chris Goldscheider and his pursuit of damages over his hearing damage. Rightly or wrongly it’s an interesting tale.

A renowned viola player is suing the Royal Opera House for ruining his hearing and his career during rehearsals of Wagner’s Die Walkure.

Chris Goldscheider claims his hearing was irreversibly damaged by brass instruments put immediately behind him.

The Musicians’ Union says hearing damage is a major problem for musicians playing in orchestras.

The Royal Opera House denies it is responsible, but around a quarter of its players suffer hearing illnesses.

In court documents seen by the BBC, Goldscheider claims that in 2012 his hearing was “irreversibly damaged” during rehearsals of Richard Wagner’s thunderous Die Walkure “from brass instruments placed immediately behind him” in the famous “pit” at the Royal Opera House.

The sound peaked at around 137 decibels, which is roughly the sound of a jet engine. The court documents say the noise “created an immediate and permanent traumatic threshold shift”.

Image captionChris Goldscheider played the viola with some of the world’s greatest orchestras

Goldscheider says this amounts to “acoustic shock”, one effect of which is that the brain hugely amplifies ordinary sounds.

Music has been in most of Goldscheider’s life: “For the last quarter of a century I’ve been a professional musician. Music was my income. It was my everything,” he says.

The son of a composer, from the age of 10 he spent in excess of six hours a day practising and rehearsing. He played the viola with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC Symphony orchestras, before joining the prestigious Royal Opera House orchestra in 2002.

Career highlights have included performing live with the famous Three Tenors to 100,000 people at the Barcelona Camp Nou football stadium, and with Kylie Minogue on MTV. He has also recorded with artists including the band 10cc.

Goldscheider says the effects of the hearing damage have been devastating.

“Ordinary sounds like banging cups and glasses together is a very painful noise,” he says.

“My newborn daughter last year was crying so much I actually got noise-induced vertigo because of my injury and I ended up in bed for three weeks.”

The musician says he has lost the career he loved and his mental health has deteriorated as he struggles to cope with the impact and effects of his hearing problems.

Life has changed dramatically. To carry out ordinary every day tasks such as preparing food, Chris has to wear ear protectors. Especially upsetting is that he had been unable to listen to his 18-year-old son Ben – one of the country’s outstanding young French horn players.

“Ben is a fantastic musician. I haven’t been able to listen to him play or practice since my injury. I’ve missed him playing concerts and winning competitions. I can’t even bear him practising in an upstairs room when I am downstairs in the house,” he says.

musician has to wear ear protectors to carry out every day tasks

At the time of his injury, Goldscheider was provided with hearing protection capable of reducing the noise by up to 28 decibels, but his lawyers claim this was insufficient. They say he was not given enough training in how to use it and protect himself, and that the noise levels should not have been so dangerously high.

The Royal Opera House does not accept the rehearsal noise caused Goldscheider’s injury, and denies that is responsible.

In a statement it told the BBC: “Mr Goldscheider’s compensation claim against the Royal Opera House is a complex medico-legal issue, which has been going on for some time and is still under investigation.

“All sides are keen to reach a resolution. The matter is now the subject of legal proceedings, and in the circumstances it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

And according to Goldscheider’s solicitor Chris Fry, part of the Royal Opera House’s defence breaks new legal ground.

“Essentially what is being said is that the beautiful artistic output justifies damaging the hearing of the musicians performing it,” he says.

“That’s never been tested by the courts. We don’t think the court is likely to uphold that, in particular where it’s clear steps could be taken to maintain the beautiful sound and protect hearing at the same time.”

he Royal Opera House denies it is responsible for Chris Goldscheider’s hearing issue

Hearing damage suffered by rock musicians is well documented. Years ago The Who’s Pete Townsend went public about his hearing loss and famously said a doctor had told him: “You’re not actually going deaf, but I’d advise you to learn to lip read.”

Brian Johnson of AC/DC and Ozzy Osborne have also been affected. But what is far less well known is that it is a significant problem in the more sedate and sophisticated world of classical music.

There are around 100 players in the orchestra at the Royal Opera House. The BBC has learnt more than a quarter report occasional or mild hearing illness, and that in the 2013/14 season, there were seven cases of sickness absence related to noise problems and a total of 117 weeks of sick leave taken. That’s not music to anyone’s ears.

Morris Stemp of the Musicians Union says there are many reasons for the hearing damage suffered by classical musicians.

“Conductors are allowed to ride roughshod over health and safety considerations,” he says. “They put players on the stage where they will be in harm’s way. And instruments are now louder than they ever were before because of the materials they are now made from.”

Add to that the increased number of live concerts prompted in part by the drop in income from CD sales, and there is a mix of elements that can put the hearing of orchestra players at serious risk.

Chris Goldscheider’s case casts light on a little known or discussed problem, and will be watched closely by all those in the classical music world.

 

Can Headphones Cause Me To Go Deaf?

April 19, 2016

According to MRC Institute of Hearing and Research, one in every 6 grownups has sufficient hearing loss to cause problem in social situations. According to the World Health Organization, loud music is the single biggest cause of preventable hearing problems. So you have to assume that the pounding bass delivered right in the sensitive part of your inner year is not a wise idea. Can it. Keep on reading to answer the question “can headphones make you deaf?”

Dr. Foy a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine says that listening to music through headphones at a very high volume for a long period of time may lead to lifelong loss of hearing for kids and teens. He adds that even mild hearing loss as a result to loud noise may lead to developmental delays language and speech.

The DOs or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, look beyond just symptoms to understand perfectly well how environmental and lifestyle factors can affect your well being. They will listen and partner with you to assist you to prevent injury and encourage the natural tendency of your body toward self –learning.

So, how loud is too loud?

Today, majority of MP3 players are able to produce up to 120 decibels of sound, equal to the sound level at a rock concert. At this level, you can lose hearing after only about one and quarter hours.

Dr. Foy stresses to parents and patients that if you are unable to hear anything going on around you while listening to music on headphones, the decibel level is very high. He advises that headphones users should not go beyond 60% of maximum volume while listening to music through headphones.

Lay it loud

It is obviously not damaging to listen to music through your headphones at half the volume of your player. It all depends on how loud the volume is and how long your headphones are on your ears. The world health organization has laid down guidelines as to what decibels are acceptable. Majority of companies manufacturing music players adhere to these guidelines. However constant exposure is still a major problem. It is very dangerous to crank up the volume for a long period of time and may lead to partial deafness. The higher your volume gets the lesser amount of time your ear can take it.

Uncomfortably numb

Unlike individuals who lose hearing during a bomb blast or hearing that sonic boom of an airplane, loss of hearing caused by headphones creeps on your ear and if not contained, its effects can be dangerous. There are people who do not show any signs of deafness during their childhood and hardly hear anything when they are in their sixties. Studies have shown that this is very common for individuals who listen to loud music through the headphones or attend a lot of clubs or live concerts. Deafness brought about as a result of listening to loud music through headphones doesn’t happen overnight. Your ear will warn you before things get really bad with tinnitus.

Conclusion

The question “can headphones make you deaf?” depends on several factors. Duration and level of volume plays a key role. If you limit the duration of time you listen to music through the headphones and also keep the volume low and soft, you will not experience problems with hearing. On the contrary, listening to loud music for a very long time through the ear phones will no doubt impair your hearing ability or worse still make you deaf. The best thing is to adhere to the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organization.

World Radio Day focuses on role of radio in disaster management

April 8, 2016

World Radio Day on 13 February brings attention to the role of radio in managing disasters and recovery in their aftermath.

Radio is recognized as a low-cost medium, specifically suited to reach remote communities and is especially effective in reaching people affected by disasters when other means of communication are disrupted. Terrestrial radio broadcasts are effective in providing timely, relevant and practical information to people who are confused and demoralised by the impact of a crisis. Broadcast information is particularly useful in situations where physical access is difficult and aid responders may take several days or weeks to reach affected communities.

Recent natural and man-made disasters are a major cause for concern to the global community. “In times of crisis and emergency, radio can be a lifeline,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “For people in shattered societies, or caught in catastrophe, or desperately seeking news, radio brings lifesaving information. This year, as we start carrying out the Sustainable Development Goals, let us resolve to use radio for human progress. On this World Radio Day, let us resolve to prove that radio saves lives.”

“Radiocommunication is indispensable in saving lives in the event of a natural disaster,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Collaborating and sharing experiences is critical in order to support national and regional preparedness, and ITU is deeply committed to facilitating rapid and effective response in emergencies.”

“Amidst the ruins and in the face of an emergency, the radio is often the first medium for survival,” says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. “Its durability is an incomparable advantage, often enabling it to resist shocks and re-transmit messages of protection and prevention to as many people as possible, better and faster than other media, saving lives.”

New developments in radio technology and in the transmission and delivery of radio content, especially through mobile devices and through on-demand media platforms, further extend the means to engage disaster-affected communities. These digital innovations are increasingly important in delivering effective disaster preparedness and prevention, while reinforcing the importance of community radio services.

ITU has developed a number of standards for effective emergency radiocommunications, recognizing that direct communication via radio helps reduce the sense of isolation and helplessness experienced by crisis-affected communities. Recommendation ITU-R BT.1774-2 is the standard that relates to emergency warning systems for analogue broadcasting, which facilitates the use of satellite and terrestrial broadcast infrastructures for public warning, disaster mitigation and relief.

In addition, the 2015 ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) identified spectrum to facilitate mobile broadband communications for robust and reliable mission-critical emergency services in public protection and disaster relief (PPDR), such as police, fire, ambulances and disaster response teams. WRC-15 also reinforced protection to search and rescue beacons to uplink to satellites, such as the Cospas-Sarsat system, which has assisted in rescuing over 37,000 people worldwide since December 2013.

World Radio Day marks the anniversary of the first broadcast by UN Radio in 1946, when it transmitted its first call sign: “This is the United Nations calling the peoples of the world.” Ever since, UN Radio broadcasts have highlighted the principles of the United Nations to foster world peace and development. World Radio Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of radio, facilitate access to information through radio, and enhance networking among broadcasters.

– See more at: http://www.tetra-applications.com/32088/news/world-radio-day-focuses-on-role-of-radio-in-disaster-management#sthash.WRnylSLy.dpuf

ever wondered what different types of Bluetooth earpieces there are

March 24, 2016

Bluetooth technology has been designed for many different purposes and situations. Consequently, when people want to buy a bluetooth ear piece for a specific situation, there are some things that they will need to consider. Specifically, based on their specific situation and circumstances, they will need to review the best style of bluetooth earpiece that is available on the market today. Since there are different styles that have been made for for one or more reasons, it’s important for each individual to do their research to see which style can accommodate their needs. It is also important to note that the kind the person purchases must be comfortable so that they can wear them for an extended period of time and they fit the devices that they will be used for. Listed below are three of the bluetooth styles that’s currently offered by manufactures all over the United States and abroad.

Bluetooth ear pieces for Mobile Phones

Most people take their mobile phones wherever they go. To work, school, church, parties and all kinds of other events that they may attend. Because these phones have become commonplace in many environments, people have a need to handle them and talk to others when their hands are free. This is also a great reason for individuals who work in certain settings to make sure that they are buying the right style that will best fit their needs.

One specific style that some people may choose is the ear cradle style of headphone. In fact, this kind of bluetooth earpiece is idea for people who want to spend their time working out and performing all kinds of other extracurricular activities. People are also encouraged to buy this kind of style because they may be driving when they receive a telephone call from a family member. Or, they may be working at the job typing a memo or walking around taking care of wide hosts of other kinds of activities that are not conducive to holding a mobile phone by hand to the ear. Whatever the situation, this style of bluetooth earpiece technology is great for many different situations and purposes.

Bluetooth ear pieces and Headsets for Music Lovers

In addition to the cradle style for mobile phones, people should also review other styles as well. One specific style that is also functional in many different settings is the DJ over the head headphones. This style has been designed for the serious music lovers, especially those who can appreciate making distinctions in sounds and beats that come from specific musical instruments like the bass, violin, trumpet and other popular instruments. For those who like and prefer this kind, they will also find that this is one of the best styles for keeping out outside noises that normally interfere with a person’s overall entertainment experience. Also, because they are wireless, they are great for people who like to stay mobile during the day instead of remaining in a sedentary position.

Bluetooth Ear Pieces for IPODs

In some situations, people may want to use bluetooth technology with their IPODs. Therefore, they should consider buying an additional popular style bluetooth earpiece technology. This style is known to be very popular, specifically because it is similar to an actual earbud. An ear bud is also another excellent choice for people who want to remain both active and hassle free. Though this is a great choice for people who like to remain mobile in a wide variety of different situations, one of its main draw backs is that they tend to fall out of the individuals ear. Which means, they can also be lost since it lacks additional support to keep them stabilized inside the ear.

Some Thoughts On… The Sony TV & HiFi Over-Ear Wireless Headphones

March 13, 2016

I don’t care who knows it; I still think wireless headphones are cool. Like bowties, or fezzes in that respect. Oh sure, there are drawbacks, sacrifices that must be made, but its still a total novelty to take a conference call whilst standing up and wandering around.

I don’t know about you, but I think better on my feet. That’s why I’m crap at job interviews, because I appear far more nervous than I actually am, due to all the squirming I do. In reality, if I could just stand up and pace around the room at will, well, you’d probably be reading this article as-written by someone with far greater knowledge and experience.

And get this, the Sony Over-Ear headphones have a 100m listening range. That means that it should be entirely possible for you to get up and make yourself a cup of tea whilst still listening to…Whatever it was you were listening to that was so riveting that it made you crave caffeine in the first place. Feasibly, you could even venture outside to yell at the local kids, or pick up the paper.

Also, with these headphones, you’ll get 28 hours out of a AAA battery, now you really can’t say fairer than that, can you? Especially if you charge it up when you’re not using it.

They are big though. Like, really big. Instead of being built for regular, Human-size heads, they appear to have been sculpted with Red Dwarf’s resident mechanoid Kryten in mind (two BBC Sci-Fi references in one article? Bonza!), the sheer size is ridiculous. They are adjustable, of course, but you might still have every cause to wish these headphones were smaller.

Another negative is the sound quality. I don’t want to say that it is bad (of course, there’s a ‘but’ coming…), but there is a low hiss that seems to permeate everything that you hear, as well as a loud cut-off noise if the signal is broken in any way. From a design perspective, this second feature makes a lot of sense, you don’t want to be outside, waffling away to your mate and not notice that the signal has dropped out (as happens so often with mobiles), but still, there simply has to be a better way, doesn’t there? The noise is loud, intrusive and actually rather scary at times.

However, apart from those minor, nagging problems, these headphones are actually quite nice. They sound OK, the wireless function works beautifully and the price is alright as well. Nice one, Sony.

ETRI presents a blueprint of the 5G Future

March 11, 2016

We will see a huge change in the way we access the the internet in the future when 5G is here, at speeds that only big businesses and high level internet companies see at the moment, we will have this to hand on our smart phones and tablets. When 5G is hundreds of times faster than any of the UK’s broadbands, households will be looking to the mobile phone companies to supply their home broadband.

A 5G future is no longer a distant one, but an upcoming reality. High quality videos of more than 10Mbps can be served simultaneously to 100 users even in a train running at up to 500km/h. People can experience data rates that are 100 times faster than currently available technologies.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) of Korea will hold a “5G technology demonstration” on the 18th December, 2015. It will demonstrate future SNS (social network service) and several 5G core technologies such as “millimeter wave”, “Mobile Hot-spot Network”, “in-band full duplex” and so on.

5G is the next generation wireless technology that would provide even faster data rates, even lower delays, and even more devices connected than 4G. Accordingly, distinct and differentiated applications are expected in 5G.

ETRI’s “future SNS” is a kind of trial service model to apply 5G technologies that provides dynamic user-centric connection to neighboring people, things and spaces. It is characterized by instant content-sharing between users, communication with neighboring things, and Giga-bps(Gbps)-grade video applications in vehicles.

5G core technologies demonstrated by ETRI include the following:

— MHN (Mobile Hot-spot Network) is a mobile backhaul technology that provides high-speed Internet access of Gbps in vehicles at speeds of up to 500 km/h (e.g. KTX in Korea). Almost 100 passengers can watch videos of high quality simultaneously.

— ZING is a near-field communication technology that enables mass data to be transmitted with 3.5 Gbps data rate between neighboring devices within the radius of 10cm.

— Single-RF-Chain compact MIMO technology enables a single antenna to simulate the effect of multiple antenna. It can reduce antenna volume and cancel inter-antenna interference in a multi-antenna system.

— Millimeter wave (mmWave) beam switching technology provides fast switching of radio beams to mobile users, and therefore allows seamless Gbps-grade service in mobile environments.

— Mobile Edge Platform (MEP) is a mobile edge cloud server on vehicles that enables passengers to enjoy customized Gbps-grade content and connects them with neighbors, things and spaces. It provides user-centric services.

— In-band Full Duplex technology can transmit and receive signals simultaneously over the same frequency band. It can increase spectral efficiency by up to two times.

— Small cell SW technology is designed for AP(Access Point)-sized small cell base stations that can reduce communication dead zones and improve data rates per user in a hot-spot area.

“With this demonstration event, we are officially introducing our R&D results on 5G. We will continue to lead the development of 5G technologies. Also, we are trying to develop commercialization technologies needed by businesses, and to construct a 5G ecosystem.” said Dr. Hyun Kyu Chung, vice president of ETRI Communication & Internet Lab.

In January, 2016, ETRI will demonstrate Giga internet service and future SNS in a Seoul subway train installed with MHN and ZING kiosks. ETRI will also introduce hand-over technology on a millimeter wave mobile communication system and 5G radio access technology that satisfies 1 millisecond radio latency.

About ETRI

Established in 1976, ETRI is a non-profit Korean government-funded research organization that has been at the forefront of technological excellence for about 40 years. In the 1980s, ETRI developed TDX (Time Division Exchange) and 4M DRAM. In the 1990s, ETRI commercialized CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) for the first time in the world. In the 2000s, ETRI developed Terrestrial DMB, WiBro, and LTE-A, which became the foundation of mobile communications.

Recently, as a global ICT leader, ETRI has been advancing communication and convergence by developing Ship Area Network technology, Genie Talk (world class portable automatic interpretation; Korean-English/Japanese/Chinese), and automated valet parking technology. As of 2015, ETRI has about 2,000 employees where about 1,800 of them are researchers.

Faulty communications along U.S.-Mexico border are America’s blind spot

March 1, 2016

We all know that mission critical communications are vital 24 hours a day and as this article shows that even a tiny lapse in communications can lead to chaos. Even the U.S government can’t keep their radio communications up-to-date on one of the most watched borders in the world, as we can see from the article below.

Put yourself in the shoes of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. You are patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, driving through desolate terrain, and in the distance, you spot movement. You head toward a deep ravine and step out of your vehicle when a shot rings out and you hear the zip of a bullet speeding past your head. With training and instinct, you dive for cover and draw your weapon, reaching for your handheld radio.

And the radio doesn’t work.

There’s no one to call, because you are in one of the many areas of the southern U.S. border that has no radio coverage. Out there in the ravine is a drug cartel “rip crew,” heavily armed and firing on your position, bullets punching into your vehicle until smoke is rising from the hood. If they come closer, you are outnumbered. If they flee, your vehicle is disabled, and they will disappear into the vast emptiness along the southern border, where they will likely fire on one of your fellow agents, should they encounter them.

That is the state of communications along many of the areas on the U.S.-Mexico border. When the U.S. Border Patrol needs it the most, they cannot communicate with anyone. With rising threats and political propositions, U.S. border security has again risen to the top of the public consciousness. There are calls for more border patrol officers and stronger fencing, for aerial and ground based vehicles and other technology. But the lifeblood of the border security apparatus is communication, and in some areas, communication is not possible.

“If there is one thing in securing America’s borders that hasn’t changed since September 11, 2001, it’s the inability to resolve the communications lapses and gaps along the border,” said Ron Colburn, the former National Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. “Here we are almost 15 years into this, and we still have not addressed this problem.”

One reason 343 New York City firefighters died when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed was that their radios could not communicate with the emergency responders outside the buildings, who were warning the structures were about to come down. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission cited the need to create interoperable tools that allow first responders and law enforcement to communicate in the most unforgiving of environments.

And there are few environments less forgiving than the nearly 2000-miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Recognizing this, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a massive project to improve the communications capacity of officers along the U.S. border. It failed. In March last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that $945 million in taxpayer funding used to build radio towers and upgrade radio equipment has yielded little benefit and in some cases does not work as well as what Border Patrol agents were using before. The effort cost too much and was taking too long.

Colburn said that the state of communications today means U.S. Border Patrol cannot call for support in some areas. They cannot feed information from the field into the intelligence food chain, and they cannot receive images from manned or unmanned vehicles to know whether they are walking into an ambush or encountering a group of friendly forces.

Likewise, Border Patrol agents cannot communicate easily with other law enforcement agencies (like a local Sheriff’s office), nor can those law enforcement agencies run on-site biometric checks (e.g., fingerprints) of individuals they suspect may have recently crossed into the United States illegally.

“I see it in the eyes and hear it in the voices of the men and women of the Border Patrol,” said Colburn. “They understand the mission and they want to accomplish it, but they feel like they have been abandoned.”

Answering the Unanswered Question

Most Americans own a smartphone, which is a powerful piece of technology. Experts say it’s hard to understand how, in this age of technological innovation and advancement, the United States is not arming its frontline officers with the very basic capacity to talk to one another.

Part of the challenge is that we have not brought new solutions to this long-standing problem.

To advance the effort, the Border Commerce and Security Council (of which I am Chairman and CEO) helped bring multiple stakeholders to the table in December last year in Cochise County, Arizona, to see if an innovative application of several integrated technologies could solve these communications challenges. It was a Proof of Concept test that included the U.S. Border Patrol, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and a group of businesses with tools that can address a range of communications and intelligence challenges. What was tested is called the Field Information Support Tool (FIST).

FIST started in 2006 as basic research at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). NPS Information Sciences Research Associate James Ehlert said in 2010 that the goal was to create “an easy-to-use, inexpensive hand-held solution to achieving communications interoperability and a common physical and human terrain operating picture for both on-the-ground field collectors and tactical decision makers.”

The research question was, how can we use modern technology to allow officers in the field to talk to one another and to their superiors while also collecting and then acting on real-time intelligence?

“The intelligence aspect is that the local and federal law enforcement officers need to look at things from a risk-management perspective,” said Brian Conroy, Business Strategy and Strategic Development Manager at NOVA Corporation, which works with Kestrel Technology Group, the company that has produced the FIST system. “They need to find the high-risk areas [along the border], and if you have a tool that collects data and runs algorithms against it, you can conduct risk assessment and trend analyses. Human intelligence contributes to a holistic common operating picture.”

This is what the FIST system achieves, and it’s what was seen during the proof of concept test. In general terms, FIST uses off-the-shelf communications tools (like an Android device) to gather intelligence from officers on the front lines. With these tools, officers feed information into a larger database compiled from a variety of sources (including other officers) that informs strategic and tactical decision making. This is then passed back to the people working along the border.

The need for this kind of tool is obvious, but it has only been recently that the right technologies and software were put together in a way that makes it possible.

Moving to the Market

Over the last year, there has been a push to transition FIST into the marketplace. Research transition is tough, as DHS has found in many cases over the years. Unlike other agencies and components, such as the military branches, the homeland security and law enforcement marketplace is heavily fragmented and with limited resources. It makes it difficult to take good, workable ideas from prototype to production. As big of a challenge as creating an innovative piece of technology is finding a way to produce it in line with operational and funding realities. A local Sheriff’s office, for example, does not have an endless amount of funding and time to bring in expensive technologies and then train deputies to use them. For that matter, neither does the U.S. Border Patrol.

What’s needed is a simpler, cheaper solution, and based on the proof of concept testing, FIST appears to be that solution.

“It’s ideal for smaller law enforcement agencies because it can unify operations and reporting and scale capability, creating a force multiplier,” said Ivan Cardenas, technical director of the Kestrel Technology Group, which is helping to bring FIST to market. “It is a sophisticated system, but it is easier to use than the complexity suggests.”

There are a few moving parts here. There are applications that allow off-the-shelf technologies to record and report intelligence, such as the location of a breach in the border fence or evidence of people moving through the rugged terrain. There are existing law enforcement and Border Patrol network capabilities (or cloud-based tools) that store that information. The secret sauce, however, is the complex digital architecture that allows real-time control and fusion of multiple information sources in a way that supports the mission. This is the one thing that has been missing from the border communications and intelligence efforts, and it’s why DHS has struggled to address the challenges to this point. The innovation is in the complexity, and FIST makes it simple.

Of course, that complex innovation is for naught if the agents in the field cannot transmit and receive intelligence. Enter SiRRAN Communications, another stakeholder at the proof of concept test in Arizona.

“We often forget that without network access, we’re blind,” said SiRRAN’s Director of Sales Mark Briggs. “Our technology brings that cell network to anywhere that it is needed.”

Briggs describes this technology as a portable, battery powered cell network—a network in a box. It creates a local, closed network that any agent within range can access to communicate and record intelligence. The unit provides local communication in areas where there is no coverage, and if there is no way to access the communications grid, it captures intelligence and transmits it to the larger repository as soon as it finds a signal.

The lesson here is not just that FIST is a workable system to satisfy the mission needs of America’s border security and law enforcement professionals. It’s also that the answer to the communications challenges along the border will not come in the form of $1 billion worth of cell towers built under DHS management. If it were, we would have solved this problem by now. The fact that we have not reveals that the ultimate solution is necessarily complex and multifaceted while also being easy to use and in-line with realistic operating budgets.

Perhaps the most important lesson, however, is that there are real tools that our Border Patrol and law enforcement officers could be using. Right now there are thousands of men and women on the border, and until we give them the tools they need to do their job, it will make border security and the safety of our frontline heroes difficult to sustain.

Motorola Solutions to buy UK’s Airwave for $1.24 billion

February 25, 2016

As this article shows, Motorola move closer to sealing the deal to supply the emergency services for the whole of the UK, this move seems to prove what we have been saying, as Airwave have a working relationship with the emergency services and a good majority of the equipment they use are Motorolas’ own products they are in an excellent position now.

Walkie-talkie and radio systems maker Motorola Solutions Inc said it would buy UK-based communications company Airwave Solutions Ltd for 817.5 million pounds ($1.24 billion) to beef up its services business.

Shares of Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola were up 3.4 percent in extended trading on Thursday.

Airwave, owned by a fund of Australia’s Macquarie Group Ltd, provides voice and data communications to more than 300 emergency and public service agencies in Great Britain.

Motorola’s sales have slipped as its major customers, which include police and fire departments as well as other government agencies, curtail budgets.

The company is trying to strengthen its services business – which provides communication services to governments, businesses and public safety agencies – to drive growth.

Activist investor ValueAct, Motorola’s largest shareholder, said last month the company’s shares were undervalued and that it would talk to its board about ways to enhance shareholder value.

Motorola Solutions said it plans to fund the purchase of Airwave, which has about 600 employees, with bank financing and cash on hand.

The deal is expected to add to adjusted earnings and free cash flow immediately after closing in the first quarter of 2016, Motorola said.