Why can't public safety just use cell phones and smart phones?
Mon, April 15, 2013 at 3:52PM
David Coursey, N5FDL in Controversies, Emergency Management, LTE, Public Safety Radio, cellular, smartphone
From: National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (npstc.org) via Chris Quirk W6CJQ

 

Why can’t public safety just use cell phones and smart phones for their mission critical voice communications?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. 

Although public safety regularly use cell phones, smart phones, and other commercial wireless devices and services as a secondary form of communications, these devices and systems are currently not sufficiently suited for public safety mission critical voice communications during critical incidents. 

Public safety officials cannot depend upon commercial systems that can be overloaded and unavailable.   Experience has shown such systems are often the most unreliable during critical incidents when public demand overwhelms the systems.

Public safety officials have unique and demanding communications requirements. Optimal public safety radio communications require:

Why can’t public safety just use the planned nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) for their mission critical  voice communications?

Again, it’s not that simple.

Although the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) will have voice capabilities that will be valuable to public safety, the network will not be able to initially provide (for many years and maybe never) the mission critical level of voice service and dependability needed by public safety.   The NPSBN is intended to provide urgently needed broadband data capabilities for public safety and is not initially being designed to replace current land mobile radio (LMR) mission critical public safety voice systems.

One key element lacking for the NPSBN to replace LMR is that the NPSBN will use LTE commercial technology, a network technology that does not currently provide the “OFF NETWORK” capability that is critical to public safety.  This means that when the broadband network is not available or not reachable there will be no communications, a critical requirement for public safety.

Other key elements required for mission critical voice include but are not limited to:

OR when working in a confined area where direct unit-to-unit communications is required.

There is much debate relative to whether broadband will eventually have the capabilities to replace current mission-critical public safety LMR systems, however the facts are clear that if this capability becomes reality it is not likely to happen in less than 10 years.

Local,  tribal, state,  and  federal public officials are  urged  to not  abandon or stop  funding their  public safety voice  LMR  systems until such  time  as  it can  be  demonstrated that  broadband can  safely and  adequately provide public safety with the mission critical requirements currently provided by LMR.

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPTSC) is a federation of organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership.

Voting Members

1. AASHTO ……….American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

2. ARRL ……………American Radio Relay League

3. AFWA …………..Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

4. APCO……………Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International

5. FCCA ……………Forestry Conservation Communications Association

6. IACP…………….International Association of Chiefs of Police

7. IAEM ……………International Association of Emergency Managers

8. IAFC …………….International Association of Fire Chiefs

9. IMSA ……………International Municipal Signal Association

10. NASCIO ………..National Association of State Chief Information Officers

11. NASEMSO ……..National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials

12. NASF ……………National Association of State Foresters

13. NASTD………….National Association of State Technology Directors

14. NENA……………National Emergency Number Association

15. NSA……………..National Sheriffs’ Association

Associate Members (Non-Voting)

1. ATIS …………….Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions

2. CITIG …………..Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group

3. NCSWIC………..National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators

4. TIA………………Telecommunications Industry Association

5. UTC……………..Utilities Telecom Council

Liaison Organizations (Non-Voting)

1. FCC ……………..Federal Communications Commission

2. FEMA……………Federal Emergency Management Agency

3. FPIC …………….Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications

4. NTIA ……………National Telecommunications and Information Association

5. OEC……………..Office of Emergency Communications

6. OIC ……………..Office for Interoperability and Compatibility

7. PSCE ……………Public Safety Communication Europe

8. US DOI …………US Department of the Interior

9. US DOJ…………US Department of Justice

Resources:

NPSTC Mission Critical Voice Definition http://www.pscr.gov/projects/broadband/reqs_stds/Functional_Description_MCV_v5.pdf

Voice over Broadband Articles:

Voice and Public Safety Broadband http://andrewseybold.com/3038-voice-over-public-safety-broadband

Mission-Critical Voice over LTE: What, When and How?

http://andrewseybold.com/2772-mission-critical-voice-over-lte-what-when-and-how

Mission-Critical Voice and LTE: Be Careful

http://andrewseybold.com/2772-mission-critical-voice-over-lte-what-when-and-how

 

Article originally appeared on N5FDL Amateur Radio and Emergency Communications (http://www.n5fdl.com/).
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