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.