All posts by jnishimura

Day Wireless Systems Acquires Gem State Communications

Milwaukie, Oregon – October 2, 2017 — Day Wireless Systems is proud to announce that Gem State Communications will begin operating under the Day Wireless Systems name as of Oct.1, 2017. This acquisition will extend Day Wireless’s expertise and resources to Gem State customers in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon, while expanding Day Wireless’s footprint in the West.

Family-owned and operated since 1969, Day Wireless has grown to be the largest wireless systems integrator in the West, and one of the largest Motorola Solutions channel partners in the U.S. Day Wireless provides end-to-end communication services, including project management, FCC licensing, system design, construction, installation, towers and systems, maintenance and equipment rentals.

“We are committed to growth, investing back into our company, and providing our customers the best solutions and experience”, said Gordon Day, President of Day Wireless Systems. 

“The addition of Gem State to the Day Wireless team expands our footprint into Idaho and helps us drive growth in our Motorola radio and service business.  For the past 48 years, we have been honored to be able to provide wireless solutions to help make our customers safer, more productive, and profitable.  Gem State Communications has a great reputation in Idaho and together I am excited about the quality service and solutions we will be able to deliver to this market.”

Since 1981, Gem State Communications has provided its customers with top-notch communication technology and support services, making it a natural fit with Day Wireless’s culture of quality, care and attention to detail. To make the transition as seamless as possible for existing clients, Gem State’s location will not change. Likewise, long-time customers will continue to work with familiar technicians and support teams, all of whom will now be backed up by Day Wireless’s pool of resources and expertise.

“We are excited to be part of the Day Wireless family.  As the two-way radio world moves rapidly into the digital arena, the considerable technical talent that the Day Team brings will provide unequal support and growth opportunities,” said Kirby Ortiz, President of Gem State Communications.  “We share common philosophies:  satisfying our customers, taking care of our employees, bringing the most current technologies to the market and doing the right thing….always.”    

Day Wireless looks forward to working alongside Gem State’s team of communication experts, and serving its newly combined customer base with the same regard for quality service and technology it has employed for nearly five decades.

About Day Wireless

Established in 1969, Day Wireless Systems is the most comprehensive wireless systems integrator in the West, and among the largest Motorola Solutions channel partners in the U.S. From system design and integration, to mobile two-way radio deployments, to in-building signal boosters/ distributed antenna systems and beyond, there is no communication challenge too complex for our FCC-certified technicians, and no ask too great for our customer-support team.

For more information about Day Wireless’s history and company values, visit our About Us page, here.

To Gain or Not to Gain…That is the Antenna Question

When looking at mobile two-way radio coverage, many users jump to the conclusion that the higher the gain rating is on an antenna, the better the coverage.  That is not necessarily the case.  In this blog, we take a look at the conditions that may affect coverage and help you select the appropriate gain antenna for best results.

Antennas do not make power; they only propagate radio waves.  Different antenna designs have different propagation patterns.   Unity gain (equivalent to 0 dB gain) ¼ wave antennas propagate RF in an omnidirectional, or circular pattern.  Since an antenna does not make power, increasing gain in one direction will decrease propagation in another.  Typically, antennas with gain will lose the vertical propagation or “roundness” of the pattern and become flattened and elongated with the higher gain antenna you choose.   As you can see in the illustration, using a gain antenna may cause poor performance in a hilly environment.propagation

Mobile antenna choice has a lot to do with the physical terrain.   On an open and flat highway a high gain antenna will be better…3 dB, 6 dB etc.  If your desired coverage area is hilly then a ¼ wave omnidirectional antenna will be better.

The other type of gain is directional and is important for base stations.  These are usually called “yagi” antennas.  As an educational metaphor, let’s compare gain to a flashlight.  When you turn the bezel of a flashlight you are not increasing the power, you are focusing the light and making the energy denser in that area.  In RF, for every 3db of gain you double the power.  In the world of antennas you do not double the output, you double the density of signal level in a given area.  For the purpose of a fixed base station transmitting to a (stationary) repeater, a high gain Yagi may be used to focus the RF energy directly at the receiving antenna.  If you are using a fixed base station and transmitting to a mobile fleet of vehicles, a more traditional omnidirectional propagation would be better suited.

In conclusion, as with many things, your antenna gain choice depends on several factors.  Generally, in the Pacific Northwest we tend to recommend 3 dB antennas for mobile radio users in order to account for both distance and our hilly terrain.  Your individual needs may not fit a one-size-fits-all approach.  We are more than happy to discuss your specific application and make recommendations for your specific needs.  Give us a call.

How New Distracted Driving Laws Will Affect Your Business in Washington, Oregon, and California

This year, Washington, Oregon and California tightened restrictions regarding the use of handheld devices behind the wheel. These changes were all modifications to the original “hands free” or “distracted driver” laws in these states; laws that required updating and modernization. The new laws in these states focus on the act of holding an electronic device as the violation, and no longer require active texting or talking to earn a citation.

In 2016, 40,200 Americans died in automobile-related accidents. This represents a 6 percent increase over 2015, and an aggregate increase of 14 percent since 2014. The National Safety Council (NSC) partially attributed this increase to a healthy economy, which means more people on the road for both work and pleasure. However, NSC’s research more heavily implicated distracted driving, caused by handheld devices such as smartphones, as the culprit. Given this data, reducing the use of handheld devices on the road is warranted.

But many businesses rely on in-transit communication to complete operations-critical tasks every day. These professionals still need instant communication, but they must also comply with the law by communicating in a way that is conducive to roadway safety.

First Things First: Know the New Laws

Below are the three states to have adopted new laws regarding the use of handheld devices in automobiles:

Washington
As of late July 2017, all motor vehicles operators in The Evergreen State, including professionals with a commercial drivers license (CDL), are prohibited from interacting with a phone or other device in such a way that requires them to hold it. Any use of the device must be minimal – for instance, a quick swipe or tap of the finger to reject an incoming call. The penalty for a first offense is a $136 fine. Subsequent violations will result in a $234 fine.

Oregon
Oregon’s new distracted-driving law goes into effect Oct. 1, 2017. Any device interaction that requires holding it, typing into it, scrolling or even resting it between your legs will result in a fine. Drivers using their phones must have it mounted, and must be able to interact with it through single-touch capabilities. Failure to comply with the new law means a first-time fine of a few hundred dollars, or a required safety course at the expense of the guilty party. Two violations in 10 years will result in a fine of up to $2,000, and a third violation comes with a minimum fine of $2,000 and the possibility of jail time.

California
The Golden State first introduced its new distracted-driving law in January 2017. At the time, “specialized mobile radio device” and “two way messaging device” were on the list of prohibited devices. This had the unintended consequence of leaving commercial drivers vulnerable under the law.

However, in July, the law was amended to exclude mobile and dash-mounted two-way radio. The law still strictly forbids the use of wireless devices while operating a vehicle. The only exception is that drivers are allowed to activate or deactivate certain features with one touch, and that device must be mounted through a dashboard or windshield console.

How Are Two-Way Radio Users Affected by the New Laws?

While laws have tightened on mobile electronic devices, states have allowed many exemptions when it comes to two-way radio users, especially for commerce and public safety. These include the following:

·        Drivers with a CDL and school-bus operators using the radio within the scope of employment.

·        Drivers in the logging or utilities industry and using the radio within the scope of employment.

·        Using a radio in police, fire, EMS or towing within the scope of employment.

·        Any permanently mounted device (i.e., dash- or vehicle-mounted mobile radio).

Although the  use of mobile two-way radios are legal and easier and safer to operate than cellphones, it is advised to keep conversations to a minimum when operating a vehicle.

Recap: What is allowed?

  1. Keep your phone on a mount and use an approved hands-free device.
    1. Receiving calls on a Bluetooth headset in this instance is OK.
    2. When making an outgoing call, you must use voice activation.
    3. Beyond a single touch or swipe, avoid touching your phone at all.
  2. Vehicle-mounted (mobile) two-way radio use is legal in every instance.
    1. Portable two-way radios are legal in several industries when used within the scope of employment, or if the driver has a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Businesses must facilitate one of the above to avoid putting their employees in a dangerous and/or illegal situation on the road.  A great option is to utilize a wide area radio system like TRBOWEST.

For more information about how to make your mobile communications compliant with state laws, click here to contact Day Wireless Systems. We’re wireless industry veterans with offices across the West who know the law and the lay of the land, and we’re here to help.

How to Deploy Universal UCC Affordably and Flexibly

WAVE OnCloud Series, Part 3 of 3

In previous blog posts, we delved into two of the most pressing use cases for a truly unified communication and collaboration (UCC) platform, one that bridges the divide between the “carpeted” and “concrete” business components. These were:

  1. Safety: Do you have the enterprise-wide communication coverage needed to facilitate All Call in the event of a crisis?
  2. Agility: Is your UCC system universal enough that business  operations can change on the fly, but in a coordinated manner?

With a setup such as WAVE from Motorola Solutions, which integrates radio and cellular communications, the answer to both questions is a resounding “yes.” Silos between the carpet and the concrete components of business dissolve to make way for universal UCC.

But that does leave one lingering question: What happens as business operations expand and contract? Universal UCC has the benefit of enabling business-process agility at any given moment in time, but can it do the same over time – for instance, in the course of months or even years.

Circumventing the Risk of High Expense and Low Returns

The upfront expenditures associated with digital transformation have a way of tempering the initial excitement of change. Even the most carefully evaluated technology investments are really just educated guesses. What will the return on investment really end up looking like?

Individually, carpeted and concrete businesses have come up against this question. The former has dealt with it in the form of digital communication systems such as VoIP and UC platforms, and the latter with two-way radio. Universal UCC is about uniting both sides of the business under a single, enterprise-wide platform, which has extraordinary potential to improve operations.

As compelling as the value proposition may seem, why should an enterprise pour money into new infrastructure? Simply put, they shouldn’t, because they can still get all the benefits of universal UCC without the sticker shock.

Just as subscription-based services in the cloud have made digital transformation affordable, quick to deploy, and flexible, WAVE OnCloud from Motorola Solutions has done the same for integration between two-way radio and digital enterprise communications.

No CAPEX? Check. Predictable Pricing? Check. ROI? Check!

Rather than deploying on-premises, which requires an upfront expense and overhead for ongoing maintenance, businesses can opt into what Gartner refers to as communication Platform-as-a-Service (cPaaS).

As a subscription-based software model, cPaaS enables push-to-talk (PTT) from any location, and on any device that has Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity (i.e., laptops, tablets and smartphones). From an operational standpoint, this capability is crucial. According to a survey conducted by Motorola Solutions, 78 percent of manufacturing workers are using multiple devices to communicate with one another.

Two-way radio is still in use by 67 percent of production workers, second only to smartphones, at 78 percent. Clearly, there is significant overlap between smartphones and radio, with many employees regularly using both. This is where WAVE OnCloud is especially useful. Any digital device that has the WAVE PTT application can communicate instantly with any MOTOTRBO radio, and vice versa. Even when workers are out of range of the radio network, they can still utilize PTT through mobile the same as they would through a two-way radio unit. What’s more, they can use PTT with any other worker in the carpeted areas of business who has access to the service.

All of this occurs without any need for new infrastructure, meaning CAPEX budget is not required. Equally critical, cPaaS has a predictable-pricing model. Like other as-a-Service offerings, there’s a fixed cost per device. This facilitates the long-term flexibility referenced at the start of this post. Enterprises hereby have universal UCC for the cost of just the monthly fee per user – no additional infrastructure, and no maintenance necessary. The end result is a high-performing service with a low total cost of ownership, a.k.a., the ingredients for ROI.

If that message resonates with you, contact Day Wireless Systems today for more information.

Motorola Solutions makes the innovation affordable. We make it easy.

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.