The Importance of Company-Wide UCC for Agile Operations

WAVE OnCloud Series, Part 2

In last week’s post, we looked at how Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) tools like WAVE OnCloud by Motorola help improve employee safety in a carpeted vs concrete ecosystem.  In this post, we look at how implementing Unified Communication and Collaboration using two-way radio and office devices enable a more agile enterprise in responding to priority situations and helping with everyday collaboration.

Enterprise businesses are latching on to the terms “agile” and “lean” in the interest of constructing more resilient, flexible business operations. The cumulative impact has been the gradual construction of the “digital workplace.” Yet, there’s a glaring hole in what otherwise seems like a good idea: the digital workplace has now been rolled out in what Motorola refers to as the “carpeted”, or office sectors of the enterprise. For “concrete” sectors like warehouses or the production floor, the digital workplace options are absent. The reason for this disparity is that traditional Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) tools have only been designed for desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. But, our landscape and needs have modernized and so must our tools.

 

Different Workflows, Different Communications

Corporate Vice President for Motorola Solutions John Kedzierski summed up the situation best with the following example:

“The operator in the paint-spray booth at a manufacturing facility is not going to use Google Hangouts on a laptop to notify her supply team that she is out of paint. She will use a push-to-talk radio to say ‘I’m out of paint at Sprayer 4.'”

Kedzierski explained that employees in industrial environments face a very different set of challenges than office workers, and therefore require different communication methods when talking within those environments. Namely, they need something rugged, reliable and instantaneous, and PTT-enabled two-way radios hit all of these marks. Additionally, the networks they leverage tend to be more resilient, and the handheld units are designed to convey crystal-clear audio even in loud settings, with nothing more than the push of a button.

Thus, stripping away push-to-talk radio isn’t a viable option for “concrete” workers. At the same time, desktops, laptops and smartphones in the business office can’t be swapped out for two-way radios.

Voice Communication: The Original Collaboration Tool

From an operation standpoint, though, UCC silos hold back the digital transformation that’s needed to optimize employee agility for the sake of responding to disruptions. While it’s true that automation and the Industrial Internet of Things are changing concrete business operations as we know them, the pecking order of any workflow is still “people, process, technology.” The technology serves the process, and the process should make it easier for people to do their jobs safely and efficiently.

The problem is that as we’ve become more reliant on technology, a disruption to our digital infrastructure makes us more sluggish to engage employees. Consider the example of a data center where technicians and facility managers frequently deal with hazards such as overheating, electrical shorts, cyberattacks, equipment failures and other disruptions that directly affect business operations.

Data center disruptions have a financial impact, according to the Ponemon Institute, of nearly $9,000 per minute. Any disruption to data flow is costly for both the data center, and for users who rely on accessing information quickly and reliably. But when data center function is interrupted, fast-paced UCC between the boots on the ground and the office park becomes even more essential.

Let’s look at the barriers to facilitating this communication.  Data centers have thick, concrete walls that improve insulation, but also hinder RF signal going in or out. Cellular boosters/amplifiers can be installed to boost signals inside; however, it is rarely cost effective due to the relatively low headcount of employees who operate a data center.  Many facilities get around this problem by using two-way radio systems.  But again, that doesn’t address the bigger problem, which is that two-way radio is used in the data center and cellular communication in business headquarters.

By having both reliable two-way radio and cellular communication, the idea of facilitating immediate back-and-forth engagement between “carpeted” and “concrete” business factions becomes more tenable. This is crucial for quickly assessing incidents such as data breaches or outages, as well as responding to those incidents collaboratively and, hopefully, getting vital operations back on track quickly.

Similarly, there’s a high cost of disruption on the manufacturing floor, in supplier warehouses, to delivery trucks, and so on. While enterprises have heavily focused on making their digital workflows agile, in the process some have forgotten to ask themselves how agile and reliable their enterprise-wide, human-to-human communication infrastructure really is. If enterprise information systems are disrupted, there must be streamlined communication between the “carpeted” and “concrete” operations.

The silver lining is that the underlying infrastructure for enterprise-wide UCC already exists. On the “carpeted” side, enterprises can leverage cellular, and on the “concrete” side, they can leverage PTT radio.  The two can be different without being disparate. Here’s how:

Understanding the WAVE On Cloud Model

Communication Platform as-a-Service, or CPaaS, has emerged to address this very problem. Unlike other forms of digital workplace advancement, CPaaS doesn’t require any new infrastructure.

Motorola Solutions’ WAVE On Cloud solution is a leading example of CPaaS. The solution is a cloud-based, Push to Talk (PTT) application that works with any Wi-Fi or cellular-connected device, but also with MOTOTRBO radios. As a result, UCC between the carpeted and concrete components of the enterprise is not only integrated, but also resilient and redundant.

For priority engagements, such as dealing with data center downtime, WAVE acts a UCC lifeline, but it’s equally useful for creating more direct lines of communication to facilitate agile processes.

The traditional enterprise has a very rigidly outlined protocol for communicating through the lines of business. And while this hierarchy is in place to maintain order, in some cases it can become needlessly bureaucratic. For instance, if a warehouse manager knows that a supplier shipment is going to be late, they may as well have a direct line of communication to the various employees who will be directly affected by this. If customer service and supply chain managers are directly looped into these discussions, they can collaborate to prescribe contingency plans much faster.

The fully digital workplace and integrated agile enterprise are not pie in the sky dreams. But before they can become a reality, UCC must grow up. Day Wireless Systems, a leading and trusted name in communication and collaboration for more than four decades, is ready to help facilitate that growth.

Contact us today to learn more.

You Need to Reach Every Employee Instantly – Introducing Wave on Cloud

WAVE OnCloud Series, Part 1

Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) systems are not new to the enterprise. In fact, unified email, chat, video conference and other communication channels have more or less become an expectation in what a recent Motorola Solutions white paper referred to as “the carpeted areas of the business.” But in operations like the production floor, inventory warehouses, transport vessels, and construction sites, (Motorola calls them “concrete” areas of business) UCC has been slower off the block. Why?

Part of the answer is that desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones have traditionally been best-suited to front-end business operations. Meanwhile, on loading docks or the production line, two-way radios tend to be the device of choice. They’re more rugged, and two-way radio networks such as MOTOTRBO typically have better availability, redundancy, and lower operating cost than Wi-Fi and cellular networks. In other words, radio just makes sense on a construction site or at an inventory warehouse in a way a cell phone doesn’t.

Of course, there are cases in which two-way radio’s range can be limiting. What’s more, having two completely separate communication networks for “carpeted” and “concrete” makes it extremely difficult to truly unify an enterprise under a single emergency notification system.

In this post, we look at how radio and cellular users can be better integrated to improve enterprise-wide coverage for the sake of employee safety.

1.  Coverage Everywhere: A Weakness of Two-Way Radio

Safety is a top priority in any business operation, and communication plays a central role in ensuring that safety. Any disruption in a professional’s ability to immediately communicate with supporting staff can jeopardize that workgroup’s well-being. Consider any of these scenarios:

  • A security guard is unable to provide police with a suspect’s location in a timely manner.
  • A utility worker falls down and is unable to radio for help.
  • A maintenance worker is mistakenly locked in a cargo hold.

In any of the above safety situations, the clear audio of digital two-way radio based push to talk (PTT) can essentially act as a lifeline – but only if coverage is sufficient. While it’s true that radio networks are designed for immediate availability, it’s also true that radio can have limited range.  On the one hand, only installing the infrastructure for the coverage you need, and not paying for things you don’t is a key part of radio networks’ appeal.  On the other hand, it makes sense for users covering large geographic areas, or companies who aren’t able to see the ROI of building their own radio network, to leverage existing cellular networks.

Consider the example of the 14,000-mile Canadian Pacific Railway, which is patrolled by 102 officers of the Canadian Pacific Police Service (CPPS). Because the territory was so expansive, the agency was forced to use various carrier solutions depending on where they were stationed. This led to communication hiccups and/or failures due to interoperability issues between carriers.

To rectify the problem, CPPS worked with WAVE, by Motorola Solutions, which provided seamless push-to-talk functionality over several cellular networks, allowing the agency to communicate effectively and affordably despite the distances involved.

So while there’s a lot to be said for the reliability of radio, expanding the network requires significant resources.  Our recommendation would be to build out your two-way radio network based on your needs whether local, multi-site, or regional coverage is desired.  To supplement coverage and push-to-talk functionality for smartphone/Wi-Fi devices, a platform such as WAVE should be considered.

2.   UCC Is About Safety, First

The other significant benefit of integrating radio and cellular is that you lay the foundation for a truly unified communication and collaboration system.

To better understand this, consider how WAVE OnCloud from Motorola Solutions functions. Any Wi-Fi or cellular-connected device (desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone) that has the push-to-talk app is able to connect through the cloud to any other device with that capability – including MOTOTRBO radios – regardless of location. As a result, you effectively enable enterprise-wide PTT without having to implement any additional infrastructure. Companies are able to leverage their sizeable investments in radio systems, yet scale enterprise PTT as needed. Since WAVE On Cloud is delivered as a subscription-based Communication Platform as-a-Service, or CPaaS, implementation is as simple as paying a monthly subscription fee, downloading the app and scaling as you go.

In today’s interconnected business landscape, an emergency or adverse incident in one enterprise outpost can easily cause problems in another affiliated location. This justifies the use of an emergency notification system, or “All Call” feature, which can span beyond the building, and to other areas of the organization instantaneously. With the push-to-talk functionality of WAVE On Cloud, you get that capability at no capital expense to your business.

3.  Why not just go through traditional communication hierarchies?

Of course, this begs the question: Why alter traditional business communications at all? Today, an enterprise that needs to reach every single line of business (carpeted, concrete and otherwise) will go through decision makers, to management and from management to supervisory positions in the concrete operations. Those supervisors then branch out to their teams, most likely though two-way radio. For the sake of explicit clarity, let’s look at how simplifying this line of communication in a true UCC setup benefits employee safety.

First, let’s consider the example of a hospital that declares an internal state of emergency. For instance, in early 2016, Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital was struck with ransomware, crippling many of its computer systems. As a result, the hospital was forced to keep records with pen and paper, and actually started to reroute ambulances to other nearby facilities whenever possible. Fortunately, patient care was not affected by the incident. Nevertheless, this is the type of emergency in which having a single, unified “All Call” communication system is crucial. Security and administrative staff, doctors, nurses, on-site technicians, custodial staff and EMTs all need to be kept in the loop through UCC, and alerted the moment that an internal state of emergency is initiated, so that they can begin adhering to contingency protocols. Patient well-being and public safety depend on a quick and uniform response to the emergency. While departments are waiting for information, they can’t follow protocol.

Let’s consider another scenario: a product recall. In the event of a bacterial outbreak at a food production plant, for instance, every operation will be impacted. And while employee safety may not be at immediate risk, public safety is endangered. An “All Call” capability can help the organization respond quickly and harmoniously. Most enterprises will have a pre-meditated protocol for dealing with these types of situations, and that everyone has a role to play. An “All Call” button doesn’t replace these processes, but it does get them in motion in a quick and uniform manner. Like an enterprise-wide intercom, critical, emergency-grade information can be passed via “All Call” to the largest number of employees possible.

Perhaps the “All Call” scenario that hits closest to home for most is a school district emergency.  In a matter of seconds, instructions can be given district-wide to initiate lockdown procedures or other emergency protocol.  Of course decision-makers will still need to engineer response protocols to these situations. “All Call” by no means democratizes these response strategies. It does not influence the content of the message or instruct action; it merely gives decision-makers and managers the architecture they need to share that message as quickly and efficiently as possible. In doing so, “All Call” also helps to eliminate the possibility of miscommunications that could hinder the performance of incident response. The end result is a leaner, more responsive organization that can work in tandem to solve the most dire problems.

For more information about how WAVE OnCloud can improve enterprise-wise safety, reach out to us today. With more than four decades of experience, Day Wireless Systems is a veteran in communication systems – one hand on the past, and both eyes on the future.

We’re ready to talk PTT whenever you are.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Will Love the New SLR 1000 Repeater

Motorola has announced the estimated Q3 2017 availability of the SLR 1000 repeater.  The SLR 1000 will be the newest edition to the MOTOTRBO repeater lineup.  The repeater is going to be available in the UHF frequency band and be capable of transmit power from 1-10 watts.

Here are the top 5 reasons you will love the SLR 1000:

1) Designed to withstand the elements.  The SLR 1000 is fully enclosed and carries an IP 65 rating, meaning it can be installed indoors or out. It includes an integrated duplexer and antenna which drastically simplifies the installation process.  You no longer need complex and costly coax cable runs.  Simply mount the unit to a pole and provide power and network connectivity (as needed).

2) Works on all MOTOTRBO System topologies. The SLR 1000 will be capable of all MOTOTRBO system types, including single site conventional, IP Site Connect, Capacity Plus, Capacity Max, and Connect Plus.

3) Small and discrete. If outdoor aesthetics are a consideration, the SLR 1000 remains discrete with a 12 in x 12 in footprint.  We haven’t seen the depth specified on an official spec sheet but estimate it to be around 3 inches deep.  We will update once confirmed.

4) The perfect voter. The SLR 1000 can be used as a voting receiver to improve your portable “talk back” range.

5) Simplex radio coverage enhancement. The SLR 1000 can help extend coverage for simplex applications, meaning the use of a single frequency instead of the traditional “repeater pair”.  The repeater utilizes the dual time-slot technology in TDMA digital to transmit on Frequency #1, Slot #1, and receive on Frequency #1, Slot #2.

Contact Us if you would like to learn more about the SLR1000 repeater.

 

 

More Than Meets the Eye, Part 2: Considerations for Effective Police Body Camera Adoption

In part one of this post, we looked at why “free” is a refrain that rings hollow in some cases, especially when a manufacturer and service provider get more out of the arrangement than the prospective client.

In this post, we take a look at alternatives to “free” that save money and time in the long run.

Making Your APX Radio ‘Better’

Purchasing the Motorola APX line of two-way radios is a sizeable investment and an important decision, yes. But the features and quality of your body camera are important too. Having a body-worn camera device that acts as a camera and top-of-the-line speaker microphone that augments your existing APX radio’s features is well worth considering.

Your officers are already carrying a ton of equipment on their bodies. The Motorola Si500 camera cleverly combines two, sometimes three, devices into one, to minimize the body “real estate” needed for the technology. The Si500 as a standalone speaker mic would be considered top of the line.  The device uses an adaptive audio engine to pick up the officer’s voice and cancel out background noise, so it doesn’t matter how the officer chooses to wear the camera. This doesn’t just save space; the fact that you don’t need to purchase an additional speaker microphone saves money.

 

The Si500 has a full touchscreen display made of Gorilla Glass™. The full display can prevent problems because everyone knows they’re being recorded. The full touchscreen also allows the officer to quickly add notes to videos in the field, saving valuable time.

It’s worth mentioning that not all body-worn camera manufacturers have screens for in-the-field classification. Some require the video to be uploaded and classified at a central office. This pulls officers out of the field, and introduces errors due to the time gap between events happening and being classified.

Other camera options require additional devices, such as the officer’s phone or an iPod Touch, for in-the-field classification. The security of this method should be questioned as the officer’s mobile devices are usually not encrypted or properly secured, which risks compromising your chain of evidence. The Motorola Si500 is a fully encrypted device with chain of custody out of the box, and is provisioned with the back end software “Command Central Vault” account.

Other benefits of pairing the Si500 to your APX radio include:

  • GPS location from the radio is automatically added to the video’s metadata.
  • Non-display radios gain display radio functionality.

Future enhancements include:

  • Channel selection using text search: Sort through hundreds of channels in a second.
  • WAVE Radio over IP (RoIP) integration: Use the Wi-Fi capability of the Si500 to communicate in areas with poor Land Mobile Radio coverage, such as large public buildings.

A Clock Set in Motion

Thoroughness should not be confused with procrastination, especially given how prolific body-worn camera usage is becoming. Since March 2017, multiple municipalities and states have either implemented body-worn camera technology or made plans to. Consider the following:

  • The Nevada Senate approved a bill in mid-April to expand the use of body-worn police cameras.
  • The Chicago Police Department estimated that it will spend $8 million in a city-wide rollout of police cameras by 2018.
  • In Connecticut, the New Haven Public Safety Committee just pushed forward a $650,000 plan to implement police cameras.
  • The Waverly City Council in Iowa voted unanimously to equip eight officers with police cameras.

These are just four examples, and more are certain to come. The use of body-worn cameras in law enforcement is gaining traction, and not just in the United States. In the U.K., for instance, Devon County just wrapped up a successful trial using the technology, and is now planning implementation at scale. Police body cameras are quickly becoming the new status quo for law enforcement world-wide.

Motorola Solutions, the Known Commodity

Motorola Solutions has been a leader in public safety technology, specifically Land Mobile Radio, dispatch technology, and mobile data for many years. No one gets to be the top of this game without a keen eye toward the future, and Motorola is no exception. With millions invested in R&D for body cameras and software, support staff and an established distribution network, Motorola Solutions is set to lead this emerging industry as well.

Of course, body-worn cameras are a new market, and reference accounts specifically for body cameras are thin on the ground. But Motorola Solutions is gaining momentum across the country, so don’t let that deter you. Name another company who has been in business since 1928 that can provide thousands of public safety account references over an array of different technologies.

Day Wireless Systems, Standing By

Whether police departments proactively pursue body-worn cameras or hold out for regulation is entirely up to them. In both cases the search for the right solution should be careful and deliberate. Police departments need to pursue this technology strategically, and ideally without feeling pressured by in-the-moment offers touted as too good to pass up.

And when your department is ready for body-worn camera implementation, you’re going to want to talk to someone who knows the field and has access to the best solutions. Day Wireless Systems will be here to guide police departments through that transition, providing access to the best service and technology for the job.

More Than Meets the Eye, Part 1: Hidden Costs of ‘Free’ Police Body Cameras

For several years now, body-worn police cameras have dominated discussions about digital evidence. Those in favor believe these cameras provide solid visual confirmation of criminal activity while protecting officers against false claims from defendants, and vice versa. Naysayers argue that body cameras lead to “nitpicking” of an extremely difficult and dangerous job.   Adoption has been staggered and often tied to new regulations, but it is growing.

The high cost of implementation and management of these systems is a unanimous pain point. In an attempt to exploit that concern, some body-worn camera manufacturers are offering “free” devices to law enforcement agents. These offers include software and storage infrastructure, at least for a limited time. While enticing at first glance, the money saved from that initial trial period is a drop in the bucket compared to the long-term expenses that follow.

The reality of digital evidence management is more complicated than some OEMs would have you believe. Doing what’s best for your police force and for public safety requires a thorough understanding of the total cost of ownership, not an instinctive gravitation toward boxes marked “free.”

Ongoing Storage, Software Comprise the Bulk of the Costs

As many police departments have become painfully aware, the body-worn cameras themselves are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the total price of these initiatives. It’s the average data storage cost of $2 million a year for just a single police station that bloats the budget.

In fact, TechCrunch contributor Devin Coldewey recently called Axon’s recent promise to give every U.S. cop a free body camera and support for one year “a sort of Trojan horse” in an article on the promotion. The campaign gets a foot in the door by offering a big freebie, only to charge market rates one year later for a service that isn’t necessarily a perfect fit for your department. It’s the classic “it’s free until it isn’t” snare.

The allure of the word “free” dodges the truth, which is that body-worn police camera adoption is a very involved process. And whether storage expenses weigh on the budget in one year, or in a few months, it’s going to happen sooner or later.

That said, there is a correct path to adoption. It involves thoroughly researching the top suppliers and understanding the department’s service requirements. It’s the same process and attention to detail that would accompany any other potentially transformative technology. Often, pilot programs can even be arranged at no cost to the customer (more below).

Redaction: The Overlooked Expense

A not-so-insignificant expense police departments must consider in the context of “free” offers (and in general) is redaction costs. Police-worn body camera systems aren’t just devices, they’re all of the data (video, GPS, etc.) that those devices collect.

In order to protect the privacy of victims, minors, undercover police officers and innocent bystanders from exposure in the event of a video leak identifying marks like face, tattoos or piercings, should be blurred out or “redacted”. While there are no laws requiring this (public records are subject to FOIA) the general consensus is that redaction is a best practice for privacy purposes.

This process takes time and money, and failure to conduct it adequately can have serious consequences for investigations, court cases and the well-being of any persons captured in the video.

A recent study published by the City of Baltimore estimated the cost per hour for redaction to be $50. In a conservative scenario where just a percentage of recorded video needs to be redacted, the annual cost of redaction per camera could be $1,600 per officer for Axon and $600 for Motorola. Redaction isn’t just expensive in money, it’s costly in time too. For example, Axon’s manual redaction process takes four hours for 60 minutes of video. For context, Motorola’s redaction time is 1.5 hours for the same amount of video. These costs are another example of a necessary feature that police departments must consider fully before settling for “free.”

Long story short, some “free” offers are only free when you overlook the critical, unavoidable and potentially costly redaction process.

No Such Thing as Something for Nothing

It’s important to ask: What does Axon get from a police department through its free trial, besides the possibly of its business?

According to the Washington Post, the answer is partial ownership of the video footage captured by those trial cameras. Presumably this is for the purpose of improving its service, but in reality it’s “a huge problem,” according to the Post, for the following reasons:

  • This evidence is in the public record, and giving partial ownership of this content to a private entity is clearly disconcerting.
  • Axon’s ownership over the data means that they can allow police to “take certain liberties with body camera video” to keep the client (i.e. police departments) happy.
  • Axon controls its own terms of service, which means it can influence how “public” public records actually are. As California Defense Attorney Rick Horowitz reported to TechDirt, this is already becoming a problem.

In the interest of true dedication to public safety, this is all a bit unsettling, and it begs the question: Who really comes out ahead here?

Am I ‘Free’ to Leave?

Another key consideration is whether a department is “free” to leave once the trial is over. The answer? No, they’re not.

The department still has to pay for deployment, training and data transfer. Additionally, there is a limit to the amount of video that can be downloaded at once, and there are additional costs to download the metadata. Not to mention, the department loses the camera at the end of the trial.

Trial sessions are not unique to Axon. As a general rule, police departments want to adequately test out a product before making such a significant purchase, and OEMs are expected to be sensitive to that. The difference is that competing body-worn camera makers, such as Motorola, actually let the prospective client keep the camera, and don’t nickel and dime for data access.

From that perspective, the hype over the “free” body camera is exposed for what it really is: A marketing campaign that caught the media’s attention by using the original buzzword: “free”.

More to come on this in part two of this blog post.

Public Safety BDA/DAS Re-Certification: Why You Need It and How to Get It

In 2009, the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) implemented first-responder radio coverage requirements to their respective books of fire codes. The intent of the codes is to ensure that firefighters, police, EMTs and other emergency responders will be able to communicate from within any structure, uninhibited by in-building signal loss. As part of those requirements, contractors must ensure that emergency responder radio coverage exists in new constructions and heavily renovated buildings. If emergency responder radio is not adequate, bi-directional amplifier’s (BDA) or distributed antenna systems (DAS) must then be installed to boost coverage in these buildings.

However, beyond that initial installation, the onus falls on property owners or building managers to show proof of BDA/DAS re-certification, as directed under 510.6.1 of the ICC code, “Testing and proof of compliance,” and NFPA 72, “National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.” This sounds simple enough in theory, but it can prove complicated in practice.

A Recent Regulation

Enforcement of ICC/NFPA regulations has just begun within the past three to five years, and only in some municipalities. As a result, many building managers are suddenly receiving notices from fire marshals about BDA/DAS annual re-certification, or what NFPA refers to as “acceptance testing.” Often, these managers don’t know the requirements, or for that matter, who to call for help in ensuring that their property is compliant.

For the sake of shedding some light on these recently implemented enforcement standards, below are explanations for the “what,” the “why,” the “how,” and the “who” of BDA/DAS re-certification.

The ‘What’

The ICC/NFPA mandate that all emergency coverage radio systems receive inspection on an annual basis, and when any additions or structural changes are made to buildings that, as the ICC worded it, “materially change the original field performance tests.” The purpose is to make sure that signal readings and other BDA/DAS manufacturer specifications have not changed or degraded.

In the past, not all municipalities abided by the ICC/NFPA requirements, and many cities created loose iterations of it  – for instance, that recertification needed to happen once every five years. However, local governments are now starting to adhere more rigidly to ICC/NFPA standards. In addition to the requirements mentioned above, municipalities are now asking buildings owners to annually prove:

  1. Acceptance test procedures are upheld.
  2. Backup power or batteries can support communication for up to a complete hour.

The ‘Why’

From an enforcement perspective, the risk of non-compliance can range from fines to, more drastically, fire marshals informing building owners that fire departments cannot respond to certain calls.

The deeper and more meaningful reason for BDA/DAS re-certification is to ensure that first responders have the communication capabilities they need to help people within a building in an emergency situation. Consider this haunting example:

In the minutes following the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11, a police helicopter radioed out that the second tower was also in danger. “I don’t think this has too much longer to go. I would evacuate all people within the area of that second building,” he said, according to the New York Times. Unfortunately, most firefighters never heard that warning, and neither did many police officers responding to the attacks, because the radio system had failed. Twenty-one minutes later, the building collapsed.

In a more common scenario, a signal booster that is not functioning properly may cause interference on the local public safety radio network, causing the entire network to be compromised.

Needless to say, building managers are highly encouraged and, in an increasing number of cities and towns, required to prove BDA/DAS re-certification on an annual basis to avoid similar catastrophic communication failures, beyond noncompliance penalties.

The ‘How’

Property owners typically have no connection to the original BDA/DAS manufacturer, or for that matter, the construction company or subcontractor that installed the equipment. The result: building managers literally left to their own devices.

However, the BDA/DAS re-certification process doesn’t have to be conducted by the original equipment manufacturer or installer. Any FCC-qualified technician with the appropriate BDA/DAS manufacturer certifications can handle monitoring and ongoing maintenance of a system. Taking this route eliminates the need to chase a paper trail.

During the actual re-certification process, the technician will conduct a coverage test, make sure the amplifier and battery backup system function properly and provide the required documentation for proof of compliance.

For the intents and purposes of a building manager trying to be compliant with local fire code enforcement, the most effective course of action is to contact a trustworthy name in the industry.

The ‘Who’

Day Wireless Systems is one of the most widely recognized experts in the in-building wireless communication industry. Since 1969, Day’s main objective has been to supply and implement reliable emergency responder wireless communication systems, and to service existing systems, regardless of the manufacturer or installation contractor.

When it comes to BDA/DAS re-certification, property owners may not need a brand new installation. However, as municipalities continue to adopt ICC/NFPA regulations, they will need knowledgeable technicians who can perform the required inspection and, if necessary, provide actionable steps for customers whose systems are not up to specifications. DWS provides both of those services, and much more.

Re-certification of critical communication systems is extraordinarily important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unexpected or complicated. Contact DWS today to get ahead of ICC/NFPA emergency responder radio coverage requirements.

Different Types of Cellular DAS, Trends, and Purchasing Models

In building cell phone user

I recently had a discussion with Jim Muzynoski, who manages our DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) business sales team.  The conversation revolves around cellular DAS solutions, market trends, and different purchasing models.

What are the different types of cellular DAS solutions available?

I’ll talk about non-engineered solutions, semi-engineered solutions, full blown engineered DAS, and I’ll also talk about small cell.  I’ll start lowest to highest, so I’ll start with non-engineered solutions.

Non engineered DAS solutions

Non engineered solutions are low powered cellular boosters that can cover all four carriers but you don’t need to have official carrier approval on them.  These devices are manufactured by Wilson or Surecall, and there are a couple others out there.  They are less than a watt of power.  They are basically monitored within their own hardware to shut off if there’s any interference with the carriers.

You just have to register these devices with the FCC which is easy to do.  They don’t need any sort of carrier approval, the carriers have deemed them low power enough that they won’t impact the macro cellular network, and they are fairly inexpensive. These solutions can probably cover around 20,000 square feet per system, so if you have a 50,000 sf building you might need 2 or more systems in a building.  You can install these inexpensively as well; it’s not using really thick coax or fiber so it makes sense that it’s going to be less expensive for installation.  They work okay as long as you have the proper expectation. If you have decent signal strength on your rooftop and you put one of these systems in, you’ll be able to take and make calls.  It is just limited from a power and capacity perspective so make sure your integrator is going over this with you.  You are not guaranteed coverage since these systems aren’t engineered.  However, your integrator will do their best to map out coverage units based on your floor plan.  Typically we’re seeing pricing come in at $0.25-$0.45 per square foot including installation for non-engineered systems.

Semi engineered DAS solutions

The next step up from a non-engineered solution is a semi-engineered solution and until recently there were no solutions in this niche…it was either non engineered or full blown DAS which could be pretty costly.  Now there’s a company called Whoop Wireless that can provide a lightly engineered solution that usually is in the ballpark of $1-$1.50 per square foot and it is engineered through your integrator. You do need to have carrier approval but those carrier approvals are easier to get than full blown DAS.  They are a little higher power than the non-engineered solution, but it is still not anywhere near the power of traditional neutral host DAS that has all 4 carriers on it and can handle a ton of users and has a huge pipe for data.  This lightly engineered solution by Whoop Wireless can handle capacity but only up to maybe 60-80 users at a time, it’s kind of in between non-engineered and fully engineered and the solution is not as extensive from an installation perspective as well and that’s where some of the cost savings come in as well.

How does Whoop work?

It’s very similar to traditional DAS but there are a couple of differences.  The amplifier is included in the Whoop Wireless solution.  They’ll have it in the head end room.  From the power perspective it’ll be a little less amplification than traditional DAS and you won’t have that thick coax once again.  What’s really different about it is the remote units are actually next to the antenna so instead of having all that signal loss from the amplifier to the antenna you basically have full power coming out of the antenna and that’s what allows them to cover a larger area than a non-engineered solution.

It has good capacity but it’s not nearly enough for a stadium or amphitheater an application for a ton of users.  That’s not what it’s made for.  It is made for apartment complexes and hotels, you know, the 100,000-200,000 sf buildings that struggle to get carrier coordination and struggle to get carrier involvement in any way and need a solution that is fairly inexpensive but still works well.

Fully engineered DAS solution

The fully engineered solution has been around for a while now.  This is what you’ll need if coverage and capacity are driving your needs.  These are going to be active DAS systems meaning power will transport the signal through a distributed fiber network, and the signal will be reconverted to RF by remote units.  That means that building size really isn’t an issue.  You can deploy an engineered DAS for millions of square feet if you need to.  That’s the traditional Commscope, or SOLiD, or Corning solution and is a neutral host solution that can house any or all of the four cellular carriers.  It could be a high power solution in some cases up to 20 watts.  The carrier coordination is usually pretty extensive.  They want to look at all of your full designs in a certain way and they want to look at the macro network surrounding the building to make sure it makes sense to put something in.

Fully engineered solutions have a little bit of uncertainty because you may or may not get the carriers to sign on.  An integrator can talk to the carriers to make sure they do everything they can to sign off but ultimately the carriers control their signal, their frequencies, and can decide whether or not they want a system in place.  Costs can vary quite a bit and you are looking at anywhere from $2-$5 per square foot for this type of system.

Small Cell DAS

Something that is changing in the market right now is engineered cellular DAS has been the go-to solution for carriers and integrators for a long time.  There’s a new solution out there right now called small cell, and small cell for in-building wireless are devices that look very similar to Wi-Fi access points.  All you need for carrier source is an Ethernet backbone.  You don’t need a base station or an amplifier or heavy coax.

They can often only cover a small frequency range and in many cases it’s just a one carrier solution.  You might need multiple access points per carrier but it is a solution that is up and coming and they are trying to figure out a way for one access point cover the entire spectrum of all four carriers.

When that happens it’ll change the market because that solution will be a lot less expensive than an engineered DAS, but it will provide the same or better capacity than a full blown DAS and provide better coverage.  It’s something that has been in the industry for the past 3-4 years and people have been talking about it, expecting it to take off, but because of the limitations of needing multiple small cell devices per carrier it just doesn’t quite make sense yet.  They are making changes and as that comes along it may potentially change the market.

You mentioned the cost for engineered DAS being anywhere from $2-$5 per square foot which is crazy to think about…who has the money for that?  In the past perhaps the carriers footed some of the bill for some of that but can you tell me where the industry is going and are carriers willing to spend money on cellular DAS like they used to?

The carriers in general have changed their outlook on how they’re spending on DAS, especially in the past 10 years there was a huge push for carriers to put in-building systems in place for all large venues- stadiums, hospitals, malls, high rises, and buildings like that.  They were spending a huge amount of money to get coverage in those buildings.

Over the past 2 years carriers have really cut back on their spending and that’s the trend going forward.  A lot of that has to do with they’ve recently spent a lot of money expanding their networks to 4G.  Everybody that needs a cell phone has a cell phone, everyone who needs a tablet has one.  There’s not as much growth in the market anymore, they are not getting a lot of new subscriptions like they used to.  So carriers are less willing to spend money on DAS systems.  In many cases even if you are a large customer of a carrier they are still going to have you foot some of the bill whereas 3-4 years ago they may have paid for it themselves.

Do you have any tips where an end customer can either get the budget for the right solution or minimize their cost in some way?  What are some of the different ownership models for cellular DAS?

This is where an integrator can help find the right fit.  We run into a lot of situations where the customer just needs voice coverage and light data and that’s all they need.  In those cases maybe it’s a non-engineered solution if you don’t have a ton of money to spend.  As you get into needing more data and call capacity then you might run into those semi-engineered or full blown DAS solutions.

There are a few ownership models out there depending how you want to do it.  You can go straight to an integrator and buy your DAS, put the system in and manage the system yourself.  Or, there are companies out there called 3rd party operators that in some cases are willing to buy the DAS, bring in the cellular carriers, and they will in turn charge the carriers a rental on that DAS system.  The use case for 3rd party owned is larger facilities 500,000 sf or more, campus environments, stadiums, convention centers, buildings like that.  You can even set up your own neutral host DAS, but that’s where it’s going to be a lot of money, $2-$5 per square foot, with no guarantee that carriers are going to pay to be on your system.

Lastly, if you have a really good relationship with your carrier, perhaps your carrier will be willing to share the bill for the DAS.  Typically it will be a single carrier situation only.  It’s just that in the past they were much more willing to do that than they are now.

 In order to save money should I have a cellular system and a public safety system on the same DAS?

It’s a question that has come up a lot in the past year.  You can definitely have a cellular system and public safety system on the same DAS but I wouldn’t recommend it.

In many cases new construction projects have to have an emergency responder radio system installed.  And these DAS systems have certain code requirements you need to meet such as 24 hour battery backup, NEMA 4 requirements on the remotes, alarming to name a few.  Due to the different requirements from the emergency responder coverage perspective it is costly to include cellular in the same system…because all of the cellular remotes need to have the same requirements.  In many cases having 2 parallel systems, 1 cellular and 1 public safety is less expensive than having 1 DAS that houses both.  In addition, Public Safety emergency responders like them to be separate because they don’t like having cellular carriers mess with a DAS system that houses public safety and potentially will be turned off or on if the carriers are having trouble with the system.

 Where does Day Wireless fit into the integrator space when it comes to cellular DAS?

In the past we’ve shied away from fully engineered DAS solutions because of the massive amount of carrier coordination and the approval process with the carriers.  But now we can really provide all of the solutions – non-engineered, lightly engineered, fully engineered DAS, and small cell.

We have good relationships with the carriers and understand how to work with them.  We really feel comfortable selling these systems… we’ve done a lot in each niche and we’ve completed a lot of systems.  So there’s nothing we really can’t handle at Day when it comes to cellular DAS.

Mountain Wave Search and Rescue Operations Strengthened with New Vehicle

Mountain Wave Search and Rescue unveiled their new vehicle yesterday which will help search and rescue missions in Oregon stay connected with  state of the art mobile dispatch and communication equipment.  Their “new” vehicle is actually an old fire truck, donated by Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, and outfitted by Day Wireless who through countless hours  and partner support donated approximately $230,000 in labor and equipment to get the vehicle operational.

KPTV – FOX 12

 

“Effective communication is an essential part of resolving emergencies, especially in remote areas. Mt. Wave can link together all responding organizations, track and record resources, and provide GIS, mapping and tech support. We also maintain caches of radio, satellite trackers, GPS, and other equipment. This generous donation from Day Wireless Systems and TVF&R will dramatically improve our ability to respond to search missions, disasters, and other large-scale emergencies all over the region with state-of-the art equipment.” – Russ Gubele, President, Mt. Wave Search & Rescue

Day Wireless would like to thank all of our vendor partners who helped with donations to the vehicle…there are over 30 of you.  Some of the major contributors include Motorola, Tessco, FLIR, & Keybank.

Mountain Wave Com 8

Mountain Wave Emergency Communications is an Oregon non-profit organization founded in 1992. They provide a vast number of emergency services including, emergency medical services, cellular phone tracking, search and rescue teams, wild-land fire teams, and more! They’re made up of 150+ volunteer members and are 100% donation supported.

Learn more about Mountain Wave Emergency Communications and how you can help here: http://www.mwave.org/

 

Day Wireless Cell Tower Construction Video

The Day Wireless – Oregon tower construction crew recently installed this 100 ft monopole which will provide Verizon 4G coverage in Estacada, OR.

Interesting facts:

  • There are 56 inches of overlap between the two tower sections
  • The tower sections will settle down another foot over time
  • The tower weighs 14,000 lbs

Contact us for your Tower Construction needs including tower site construction from drawing board to field of operations, civil site construction, and equipment installation.

Day Wireless Systems Joins Brocade Partner Network as a Select Partner

Milwaukie, OR–July  6, 2016 – Day Wireless Systems, today announced that it is offering Brocade networking solutions, having joined the Brocade Partner Network as a Select partner. Day Wireless will deliver solutions and services primarily around Brocade’s campus network switch lineup.  Day Wireless secured accreditation to join the Brocade Partner Network as a Select Partner having proven its ability to efficiently deliver networking solutions to customers, as well as the organization’s extensive knowledge, skills, and expertise in the networking and wireless industry.

 

“Brocade is pleased to welcome Day Wireless as a Brocade Partner Network channel partner,” said Angela Quinn, Channel Manager, Western Sales region, Brocade. “As a member of the Brocade Partner Network channel program, they will have the ability to continually increase their knowledge of new and emerging IP technologies, which will lead to greater benefit of their customers.  Brocade is very excited to welcome Day Wireless as a partner in the West, and engage with all the high demands of IP business, with industry expertise in security, video surveillance, SLED and Healthcare solutions in the market.  With Brocade’s recent acquisition of Ruckus Wireless, Day Wireless Systems is well positioned to offer customers a complete end-to-end IT networking solution from the edge to core.”

 

The Brocade Partner Network channel program includes four partnership levels: Distributor, Elite, Premier and Select. All levels have been designed with specific requirements and benefits to help partners leverage and be rewarded for their networking product knowledge and solution support expertise. As part of this partner-enablement strategy, Brocade provides its partners with deal registration to help ensure project success and investment protection. In addition, Brocade has extensively expanded its dedicated sales, marketing and technical support offerings and incentives to help ensure profitable partnership engagement. All Brocade channel partners benefit from being part of Brocade’s extensive, world-class partner ecosystem, the Brocade Partner Network.  For more information on the Brocade Partner Network channel program, please visit http://www.brocade.com/en/partners/channel-partners/brocade-partner-network.html.