Law Enforcement Technology

JUL 2015

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www.officer.com July 2015 Law Enforcement Technology 27 The "why" Such incidents highlighted the weak- nesses that law enforcement (and really, all emergency response agencies) had with communications in a large scale crisis event. Even without the natural disaster and destruction that eventu- ated from incidents like Katrina, years of both state and federal agencies operating as 'lone wolves' in regards to setting up their own individual commu- nications networks, each set up by a dif- ferent vendor, led to a complex web of communications issues to which there was no easy fix. Much discussion was had about interoperability between agencies in the wake of 9/11. But real action was not taken by government until 2006 after Hurricane Katrina, when legisla- tion was passed creating the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP). The P25 bill devised a method in which major communications ven- dors could submit their technology to be assessed by third party laboratories to pass the standards required to show that their products were P25 CAP compliant, and able to be certified as a device that allowed interoperability between radio networks or whichever communication method the device was using. The bill also allotted fund- ing for ongoing government grants to agencies, with which they could utilize federal funds, allowing them to either create a network that would provide interoperability with surrounding agencies, or allow them to upgrade their current systems to a standard that would allow their equipment to 'talk' to other systems. Thus first responders in the same areas could communicate with one another on the same or differ- ent radio networks. Adapting to the need Early adopters of interoperable tech- nology, like some of the major radio and network suppliers, went in dif- ferent directions in terms of offering unique solutions as they attempted to stand out from the crowd. Motorola offers several interoperable products: the APX 8000 All Band Portable Radio for primary communications is capable of multi-mode system access through conventional or trunked operation, SmartNet or SmartZone legacy sys- tems and the digital P25 mode cov- ering 7/800Mhz range, VHF band and UHF range 1 & 2. Additionally, Motorola's solution is capable of oper- ating collaboratively with other devices in the Motorola range, such as the LEX L10 LTE handheld device, VML750 LTE vehicle modem, and VIEVU's LE3 body worn camera. From a holistic view of interoper- ability and incorporating devices not manufactured by them, Motorola also offers WAVE Work Group Communications solutions that encom- pass PC's, tablet technology and even non Motorola cellular devices, provid- ing push to talk (PTT) functionality between multiple devices. Motorola's ASTRO 25 Market Specialist Manager, Geoff Hobar, is excited by the opportunities that the P25 network offers their customer base. "In previous times prior to the digital standard, customers, from their very first equipment purchase, were shackled to a specific vendor due to the lack of system interoperability and proprietary technology. With the choices customers have today with P25 compliant devices, it gives our customers ... the flexibility to use whatever product suits their needs. Be it our devices or someone else's, the interoperability market has forced manufacturers to step up their game and compete for customers. Tait Radio also offers a line of P25 compliant radio devices, such as the TP9400 and TP9100, along with the transportable P25 base station/repeater that can be deployed as needed to improve communications. It can also be used as a specific targeted network for major incident response or major event use. Tait products offer ruggedized design and the same interoperability solutions through multiple bands and legacy systems for use by officers on the street with FIPS 140-2 certified encryption, by their proprietary Key Fill Device or Over The Air Rekeying, allowing well secured communica- tions through conventional, trunked or simulcast radio networks. Agencies have found both benefits and disadvantages when it comes to radio networks overcome with the influx of options available from mul- tiple vendors, coupled with the need to communicate with multiple agencies during both crisis events and day to day operations. One company that found a unique way to approach the market was Mutualink, based in Wallingford, Conn. A different approach While some vendors in the market were looking at radio networks and how to make their proprietary network func- tion within other frequencies and net- work infrastructures (at the same time

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