Butler County, PA’s radio system was facing end-of-life and had begun to experience reduced reliability. As a county the requires reliable mission-critical communications for 60 first responder agencies, it is crucial that the County’s land mobile radio (LMR) system, and the network supporting it, be available whenever and wherever it needs to be. In addition to decreased reliability the system also faced several other challenges that led the County to make the decision to replace it, including:
A project to build or refurbish an emergency communications center—including a 911 center—or an emergency operations center is no small undertaking. Generally speaking, the decisions made will impact the agency and its stakeholders for at least 20 years, perhaps a half century or more.
Mission-critical facilities must meet today’s operational and technology requirements while being flexible enough to accommodate the unforeseen practices and systems deployed in the future. The complexity of such a project is daunting. Every single decision impacts many other aspects of the facility and the desired operational outcome—just as a pebble tossed into a lake creates ripples that are many times larger than the pebble. Therefore, a great deal of thought needs to be put into sizing, purposing and equipping the facility.
In light of that, we are excited to announce the launch of MCP's new book nearly ten years in the making, "Expert Advice to Guide Your Mission-Critical Facility Project."
The basis of this book is to offer guidance to those who are spearheading facility projects, whether they be government officials, public safety directors or facility managers. The MCP Team has learned the hard lessons about what works, and what doesn't, when it comes to facility design. This book is intended to share those lessons in order to help project leaders navigate the constraints and challenges that could have a detrimental impact on bringing the facility to fruition.
A baseball adage says that when a pitcher throws you a curveball, you hit it to the opposite field. But what do you do when the pitcher hurls a fastball right at your head?
The public safety version of this scenario occurs whenever system or technology vendors consolidate, either through merger or acquisition, an action that often places their customers in a very precarious position. Agencies immediately wonder whether their already deployed systems will be supported in the same manner as before the consolidation.
Often, they are not, in part because some number of administrative, engineering and service personnel typically leave a company after a consolidation.
Worse, systems and equipment often are eliminated in the aftermath of a consolidation, usually because of product redundancies. Preparing for system and equipment end of life always is challenging, but it becomes terrifying when it occurs suddenly and with no warning. Public safety agencies are in the business of saving lives and that becomes significantly more difficult when communications systems are rendered inoperable because replacement components or maintenance services cannot be procured—because they no longer exist.
In emergency communications, the computer-aided dispatch system, or CAD, functions as the informational hub of the public safety answering point (PSAP). As technology continues to impact everything we do as consumers – from purchasing of goods, to our communications with friends, to navigating us from point A to point B – public safety must modernize its systems to meet communities’ demands for faster and improved emergency response.
Over the years, driven by advancements in consumer technology, CAD systems have undergone their own evolution. For many years, CAD systems were specific to a single agency. Today, CAD systems have evolved into multi-agency, unified platforms that enable greater flexibility and facilitate information sharing, not just between the PSAP and field personnel, but also between departments and neighboring jurisdictions.
Earlier this month, public safety communications professionals descended on Las Vegas for the 2018 APCO International Conference and Expo, the premier event for those in the public safety industry. Over four days, attendees participated in professional development sessions and toured the exhibit hall to talk with vendors and subject-matter experts to gain their insights regarding the future of emergency communications.
While this year’s focus conference focused heavily on cutting-edge issues and technology, there were a few especially hot topics that kept the convention center buzzing.