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GCN : August and September 2016
PHOTOCREDITHERE FIRSTNET 36 GCN AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 • GCN.COM portable devices and managing user ap- plications coming from multiple sourc- es have been tough. Although an effort is under way to establish standards for land mobile radio (LMR) systems, he said, “many of the applications do not currently recognize user devices oper- ating on opposing applications.” HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS, NETWORK The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and its World’s Championship Bar-B - Que Contest attracted about 2.5 million people from Feb. 25 to March 20. The two main goals of the FirstNet demon- stration during the event were to im- prove situational awareness and move administrative traffic from the single LMR channel to the rodeo’s security team. The Harris County Sheriff ’s Office and the Houston Police Department used the system to share person-of-interest bulle- tins, pictures of missing children, images of counterfeit parking passes and other information. The county deployed about 120 handheld devices equipped for PTT, situational awareness and information sharing. There were also Wi-Fi hot spots for Apple iPads and laptops running a patient-tracking system. But configuring and reconfiguring the devices and ap- plications took a lot of time, said Shing Lin, director of public safety technology services for Harris County. The number of devices also presented challenges. “In the future, we will need to leverage a mobile device manager so- lution for configuration management or reduce the number of devices deployed to a more manageable count,” he said. Additionally, users said they would prefer carrying one hands-free device that supports LMR and smartphone functions rather than having to carry a radio and a data device. “We found that the end users wanted to use the LTE devices with PTT instead of the radio; however, the technol- ogy has not yet fully evolved to support mission-critical voice,” Lin said. “The most success we had with PTT was for teams that were able to communicate with each other about non-emergency information specific to their group (ad- ministrative, logistics, etc.), which sig- nificantly reduced traffic on the main security channel.” NEW JERSEY’S JERSEYNET JerseyNet’s effort focused on cell on wheels (COW) systems equipped with microwave backhaul and Mutualink in- teroperable communications technology to support existing communications or provide such services where nodes were not functioning. Officials put JerseyNet to the test last year during concerts in Atlantic City. The city’s police department and the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Pre- paredness created a dedicated broad- band network to let first responders com- municate even when commercial systems overloaded. The police department connected trailer-mounted surveillance cameras to JerseyNet to share data between field resources and officers at the command center, as well as across the network to agencies such as the New Jersey State Po- lice and emergency medical service pro- viders. The agencies were able to receive information and videos via workstations and mobile devices using Mutualink’s Wearable Smart Gateway, an interopera- ble communications technology available through FirstNet. “This was the first time during a large, densely populated event that we were able to maintain a constant real-time video stream, and this vastly improved the situational awareness for everyone involved with securing these events,” Lt. James Sarkos of the Atlantic City Police Department said. NEW MEXICO PUBLIC SAFETY LTE NETWORK The state’s FirstNet effort centers on a system with six fixed sites and a COW that looks at the southern border with Mexico. The state uses the Adams Coun- ty Communication Center in Colorado as its host core network. During the 2015 Albuquerque Inter- national Balloon Fiesta, the state tapped General Dynamics’ 4G LTE deployable network, which let law enforcement of- ficials see where public safety officers were located on a map of the festival’s massive field. Users carried ruggedized Sonim Technologies smartphones pre- loaded with a PTT application, SLA’s En- terprise Secure Chat and Intrepid Net- works’ Sting situational awareness suite. “Local first responders, with no or limited professional exposure to or training in the technology, quickly ‘per- sonalized’ it and were asking for access for their current applications and de- vices,” according to a state report. “The success of this demonstration centered on two things: 1) the power and deter- mination of the partnership, and 2) the ability to tap into existing assets.” The report’s authors concluded that “this network would not have been pos- sible without utilizing the existing state of New Mexico Early Builder network, local government assets and the private partnerships and relationships created to build and provide the necessary devices and applications” for the festival.• The First Responder Network Authority, with technical headquarters in Boulder, Colo., is creating the first nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. FLICKR.COM/FIRSTNETGOV 0916gcn_034-036.indd 36 8/31/16 9:02 AM
June and July 2016
October and November 2016