POLICE Magazine

MAY 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/1113598

Contents of this Issue


Page 65 of 76

C R I T ICA L I NC I D E N T R E S P O N S E | SP E C I A L R E P O RT | 9 PHOTO: VINCENT TAROC P25 signals can also be encrypted, which is essential to oper- ational security during a critical incident. is is especially true when you consider that anyone listening to your radio traffic would be able to communicate your every step via Twitter to the bad guys and the rest of the world. Another great benefit of P25 radios during critical incidents is that they have clearer signals than the previous generation of radios. Many contemporary public safety portable radios also have filters that minimize background noise. Considering how loud a critical incident scene can be, with people screaming, sirens, alarms, and other noises, these filters can be essential for effective communications. CELLULAR VOICE AND DATA T he need for interoperability at critical incidents led to a lot of discussion in the last 2O years of developing a cel- lular broadband network just for first responders. at idea was first floated aer the 9/11 attacks, but it came to fruition in 2012 when the First Responder Network Authority (First- Net) was established by Congress. What happened next is that an auction was held for the FirstNet radio spectrum (bands of frequencies), which was cleared when all TV broadcast signals went digital. e buyer had to agree to build the FirstNet net- work and establish priority in that spectrum for first responders. AT&T won that auction and the public-private partnership of First- Net was born. What this means is that in all 56 U.S. states and territories, law enforcement has access to a secure cellular network that gives priority to public safety users and will even pre-empt non-public safety users in times of extreme traffic. Extreme cellular traffic comes with any critical incident. So First- Net and a competitive service from Verizon called Responder Private Core that also of- fers secure cellular communications with priority and preemption for public safety users will be essential communications net- works for when things hit the fan in the near future. Individual officers can sign up for FirstNet or Verizon's Re- sponder Private Core and so can agencies. e Brazos County (TX) Sheriff's Office, for example, chose to build an agencywide FirstNet solution. Each of its patrol vehicles now has LTE mo- dems that provide a mobile broadband network. "Each one of our patrol vehicles is now an LTE hub," says Sgt. Josh Hearen. He explains that this gives patrol deputies and investigators the ability to have their own dedicated Wi-Fi network at any scene." So far the first responder cellular networks have not been used at a major disaster or attack. at day will come. But they have been used for events where cellular systems experience extreme traffic, things like major college football games, the Super Bowl, and the Boston Marathon. Harry Markley, law enforcement senior advisor for First- Net, says a test was run of the system at last year's Boston Marathon. e city's first responders were provided with First- Net-equipped mobile devices, and they were able to communi- cate and access data on those devices despite congestion on the network from the crowds attending the race and participating in the annual Patriot's Day celebration. Markley says Boston of- ficials told him that their experience with FirstNet at last year's event was very different from what they experienced during the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing when cellular communi- cations went down for hours. Markley, a former assistant chief with the Phoenix Police Department, has 30 years of experience running critical inci- dent scenes and he says cellular communications have become critically important for incident commanders. "It's impossi- ble these days to run a major incident on the radio. You need that person-to-person communications over the phone," he explains. STREAMING VIDEO N ick Nilan, Verizon's director of public sector product de- velopment, says that we are just at the infancy of cellular communication capabilities in public safety. Currently most of the users on Verizon's Responder Private Core are accessing the network via cell- phone but Nilan believes that will change. "e real growth will be in the number of connections per vehicle through the MDT router," he says. ose connections will in- clude streaming video. e ability to stream video from a critical incident back to a command center or to the chief or sheriff has long been on the tech- nology wish list of many law enforcement agencies. And thanks to high-speed cellular communications, it is becoming a reality. Even with current LTE networks such as FirstNet and Verizon's Responder Private Core, the capabilities are being developed. But they will really take off when 5G replac- es 4G as the network speed. Some estimates say that 5G is 65,000 times faster than typical 4G speeds. at means every officer's body camera or in-vehicle camera could easily stream video from a scene to a command center. Already the industry leader in body-worn cameras, Axon is working with both FirstNet and Verizon to make this a reality. In the next decade, officers at a critical incident scene will be able to communicate with all necessary parties via interopera- ble radio systems, send and receive cellular data on secure first responder networks, and even stream video to other members of their team and to commanders for better situational aware- ness and decision-making. All three of these communications tools will make critical incident response more effective and safer for both public safety professionals and the public. n

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of POLICE Magazine - MAY 2019