At the annual Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials conference in Anaheim last week, APCO agreed to work with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to foster and promote mobile apps for public safety.
AppCom.org is their website and app store, with a collection of applications are for use by the general public and first responders.
There were multiple demonstrations that enable push-to-talk and group calls over LTE that also integrate with Land Mobile Radio (LMR) networks. But it will be years (if ever) before taxpayer funded FirstNet could offer comparable LTE coverage that Verizon or AT&T currently provide.
Other news at the conference:
- Northrop Grumman detailed its proposed network architecture for the FirstNet Nationwide Network (FNN), which will connect emergency responders and services in real-time from local, state and federal agencies. FirstNet will have to meet the needs of more than 60,000 federal, state, local and tribal agencies and do it for no more cost to the end users than what agencies are paying now for commercial services. Northrop Grumman’s Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX) breaks down jurisdictional and technical barriers to improve data sharing across municipal, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
- Motorola Solutions introduced its LEX 700 handheld device for public safety. The Android phone is the first multi-band, multi-mode handheld to operate in the Band 14 public safety spectrum, as well as 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi connectivity and offer push-to-talk support. The introduction of Android to the LEX 700 expands the range of application options and flexibility for public safety, and Motorola representatives said it was “critical” for them to make the OS available on the device.
- Ceragon Networks said it has received orders for a new regional public safety network in Nebraska, the Nebraska Regional Interoperability Network. The network, managed by Communication Services, will use new and existing resources for a statewide wireless communication system – including about 200 links of Ceragon’s FirstNet-ready FibeAir solutions.
- Bill D’Agostino, general manager of FirstNet, the entity tasked with building a nationwide broadband communications network for first responders, said FirstNet expects to start issuing requests for proposal (RFPs) sometime in the 2014 fiscal year, and portable hot spots would be the answer to serving the approximately 30% of the country that the core network won’t cover.
With radio systems set up town by town, county by county and state by state — sometimes even department by department — America’s police and fire departments often can’t communicate with each other. FirstNet is designed to fix that. But building and running a dedicated nationwide LTE network reaching 95% of the population will cost more than the $7 billion currently funded for the project.
Skeptics say the LTE-based FirstNet won’t handle push-to-talk radio, at least not for a long time. Voice doesn’t come through reliably enough over the broadband system.
“Technology will evolve to be more robust,” said Mike Duyck, chief of Tualatin Valley (Ore.) Fire and Rescue. “Everyone will be using it and eventually they will be asking, ‘Why aren’t we?’”
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