Public safety's wait for multiband radio is over, and in a big way, as two new devices were announced at last month's Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials annual conference in Kansas City, Mo., while a third — introduced at the International Wireless Communications Exposition in Las Vegas in March — already has been upgraded.

Motorola unveiled the APX 7000, a full-featured multiband portable P25 radio with integrated voice and data that comes in a hardened package and is designed to be user-friendly for public-safety users, according to company officials.

“When we spoke with customers some time ago, they asked us for three things: make it louder, make it easier to use and make it smaller,” said Tom Quirke, senior director of global products and solutions for Motorola's government and public-safety business. “We've put a check in the box for all of those, but we've added a lot more capability.”

Indeed, the APX 7000 represents Motorola's first portable multiband offering. The radio's ability to operate on 700 MHz, 800 MHz and VHF networks will give first responders a new level of interoperability, Quirke said.

In addition to operating on different bands, the versatile APX 7000 — as well as the APX 7500 mobile version also announced — is P25 Phase 1-compliant and will be upgradeable to P25 Phase 2, he said. The radio also is backward-compatible with Motorola's SmartNet and SmartZone systems, making it an ideal choice for agencies with such networks that are seeking a smooth migration path to P25, Quirke said.

Meanwhile, Harris Corp. introduced the Unity XG-100P software-defined, multiband portable radio. The radio operates in four public-safety frequency bands from 136 MHz to 870 MHz and is compliant — in both conventional and trunking modes — with Phase 1 of the Project 25 standard. It also is software-upgradeable to Phase 2, which is an important feature, said Kevin Kane, the company's director of U.S. product development.

“Being software-defined allows it to be somewhat of a future-proof buy. We expect the Project 25 standard to evolve to add more capability,” Kane said. “You'll be able to upgrade … without buying a new radio. For someone who's planning for the life-cycle costs of a radio, that's a key feature.”

Other key features are embedded GPS and a large color screen, neither of which have been “typically available” in the public-safety sector, Kane said.

The radio is the second multiband product developed by Harris for the first-responder sector. The first, introduced in February, was the RF-1033M, which operates in VHF (low- and high-band) and UHF (also low- and high-band) spectrum and is targeted to federal agencies.

Harris has been producing multi-band radios for the military for more than a decade, and that experience paid off in the development of the Unity radio, Kane said. However, he stressed that the Unity is not simply a dumbed-down version of the company's military radios.

“This was designed from the ground up as a public-safety radio,” he said. “We took a lot of the feedback we got regarding the RF-1033 and were able to incorporate that into the second-generation design.”

The suggestions included broadening the swath of frequencies upon which the radio could operate, shrinking the form factor and reducing the weight, all of which were accomplished, Kane said. “We've addressed a lot of key user concerns.”

Finally, Thales announced that it added a color display screen to its Liberty multiband radio. The screen lets programmers color-code the channels of various agencies in a region, so first responders in the field “know who they're talking to,” said Stephen Nichols, director of business development for the company's DHS/public-safety unit.

In addition, a color bar at the top of the screen lets users know they've grabbed the correct radio.

“Each user group gets a slightly different programming configuration. The chief has different channels than firefighters or the hazmat team,” Nichols said. “Color-coding the bar will help users pick up their radio and not the chief's, which was in the charger right next to theirs.”

The company also introduced an easier navigation interface. “The last thing the world needs is another custom way to program some technical product,” Nichols said. “We tried to emulate the approach taken by the cell-phone manufacturers and made our interface intuitive.”

CISCO, POSITRON LAUNCH NEW PLATFORM

Cisco and IPC-Positron announced a new platform that integrates Cisco's unified communications system and IPC-Positron's VIPER offering to provide an IP-based solution for a new generation of emergency-response communications.

Dubbed the Emergency Communication and Collaboration Platform, the system is designed to meet the needs of a changing communications environment that is migrating from the voice-only model used in public-safety answering points (PSAPs) today to one that allows voice, video, text and data information to be leveraged in what Cisco and IPC-Positron are calling Emergency Communications and Collaboration Centers, or EC3s.

“We see the industry migrating from an answering-point model to a collaboration-center model,” said Morgan Wright, Cisco's global industry solutions manager for public safety and homeland security. With this in mind, the Cisco/IPC-Positron solution is expected to be used in emergency operations centers and fusion centers, as well as PSAPs.

While the initial focus of the platform is citizen-to-authority communications via any form of IP-based communications, the platform also is designed to handle authority-to-authority communications and, eventually, authority-to-citizen communications such as emergency notifications, Wright said.
— DONNY JACKSON

TRUNKING REPEATER, PORTABLES

ICOM America debuted what it is describing as the smallest Project 25 trunking repeater on the market. It combines two 50 W repeaters in a 2-rack-unit-tall configuration. “We all know that rack space is at a premium today,” said Richard Varbero, Jr., of the company's Land Mobile Systems Group.

The company also unveiled the IC-F9011 series of conventional and trunked portable radios. The official launch of the line will occur Oct. 1. Three models are available: full keypad with LCD display; simple keypad with LCD display; and no keypad/no display. A UHF version will be launched in February.
www.icomamerica.com

DESKTOP CONTROL STATION

Midland Radio introduced a P25 VHF desktop control station that will be available this fall. It has a 90 W power rating (45 W continuous operation), offers DES/AES encryption and is targeted to federal agencies and the public-safety sector. A low-power UHF version also is planned.
www.midlandradio.com

JPS ADDS ADVANCED TRUNKING CAPABILITY

Raytheon's JPS Communications has added composite channel trunking to its P25net Project 25-compliant, digital trunked radio communications system — a capability that is expected to trim infrastructure costs for users by reducing the number of repeaters that have to be deployed.

According to Rick Summers, a JPS program manager, a typical trunked system employs a minimum of three repeaters: One supports a control channel that is on all the time, while the other two are for talk channels. With composite channel trunking, a single channel is used for talk and control; the control channel switches into talk-channel mode whenever the system receives an authenticated signal.

“When you don't have much loading, a single channel is all you need,” Summers said.

Reducing the number of channels has a corollary benefit: it reduces the amount of spectrum that's needed to support operations. According to Summers, the combined cost savings from these reductions are especially advantageous in low-population areas, where it is more difficult to cost-justify investment in infrastructure and spectrum resources, because such areas are visited much less frequently by field technicians.
— GLENN BISCHOFF

ENCRYPTED REPEATER, 800 MHZ MODULES

Daniels Electronics unveiled plug-in 800 MHz modules for the company's analog and Project 25 products and a P25 encrypted repeater that measures less than 1 cubic foot, provides three hours of continuous use and operates on D-cell batteries.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms came to the company seeking an easy-to-use repeater for covert operations, said Gerry Wight, the company's director of marketing. “D-cells are about as simple as it gets,” he said.
www.danelec.com

CAD SYSTEM

InterAct Public Safety Systems unveiled HerculesCAD, a next-generation computer-aided dispatch system. It is available as a hosted service application or may be deployed as a premise-based system. HerculesCAD is designed to let disparate agencies share critical data from incoming calls — whether they arrive via phone, SMS, VoIP or e-mail — including images and video over a secure network, the company said.
www.interact911.com