Communications-Applied Technology has delivered 21 of its Incident Commanders Radio Interface (ICRI) interoperability units—enhanced with a new identification feature designed to help mitigate interference—to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety.

Expected to be announced formally next week, the New Jersey department awarded C-AT the contract last November and the first 21 ICRIs were deployed by the end of March, C-AT President and founder Seth Leyman said. Another contract for 21 ICRIs is pending, and C-AT hopes to have those units deployed in New Jersey by July 1, he said.

When multiple interoperability bridges are placed within close geographical proximity to one another, they can create interference that hampers communications—a problem Ray Hayling, New Jersey’s public-safety communications chief, wanted addressed in this interoperability solution, Leyman said.

“That was something [Hayling] said had to be resolved before he could deploy any interoperability [solution],” Leyman said. “He wanted to have the ability to know who was turned on and have the ability, at his control, to turn the unit off without physically going to it.”

To address this need, C-AT developed a feature known as the Bridge Unit ID, which lets each ICRI device transmit a digitized speech message at regular intervals—New Jersey has selected 10-minute intervals—identifying the unit and its owner, Leyman said. This message lets a commander like Hayling know what interoperability units are in a given location, and he is able to remotely disable—and later turn on—an ICRI unit that may be interfering in a geographic area.

Leyman said C-AT believes this feature is so important that the company has lowered its price dramatically—“We’re basically giving it away,” he said—and have called on other industry vendors to provide similar functionality in their interoperability bridges.

“This is not proprietary technology, and we’re taking the position that everybody should do this to prevent the issues that happened at 9/11 or Katrina,” Leyman said. “It’s important, it’s a problem and it needs to be addressed.”

The Bridge Unit ID message will not be transmitted on a channel if it is being used for communications at the message’s scheduled transmission time, Leyman said. An incident commander also is able to transmit a single message to all talk groups before returning the talk groups to their previous communications networks, he said.

Another feature of C-AT’s ICRI solution is a carrying case that contains an ICRI and five connected radios to enable interoperability, Leyman said. In New Jersey, three radios—VHF, UHF and 800 MHz portable units—are connected in the state case, while the other two slots are left open for local entities to use for trunking technologies, he said.

The hardened carrying case is submersible and includes an external jack, so the devices inside the case can be powered by an outside power source, if available, Leyman said.