Securing the airwaves
Vista, Calif.-based Datron World Communications announced a security software upgrade package available for the company’s line of Guardian mobile and portable radios at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials 73rd annual conference in Baltimore.
The company’s Guardian radio line consists of Project 25-compliant mobile and portal radios built specifically for the public-safety market. One of the first available security features for the radios is the Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, that was adopted and approved by the U.S. government and its agencies in 2001. By adding the option to the radios, the company now can supply them to federal customers, said John Biljan, the company’s North American sales manager
In addition, the radios can be programmed to include over-the-air rekeying, which is the common name for the method of changing encryption keys in a two-way radio system over the radio channel. Biljan said it is an application that lets federal users change the encryption without having to physically touch the radio.
A global positioning system, or GPS, also can be added to the radios. According to Biljan, the GPS feature can send digital location data from a portable or mobile radio to any predetermined P25 radio on the network. The feature supports personnel- and asset-tracking in hazardous situations, such as locating firefighters or police officers in the field during a major incident or for those first responders who work in rugged, remote and high-risk environments.
“We saw a requirement at a federal level with national parks and other agencies. They thought that having a GPS location could help personnel in emergency situations,” Biljan said. “A lot of federal users, such as park rangers, work in a national park geographical area that they have to control by themselves. And if they ever get into a situation where they need help or are injured, without having to send out a search party, search crews could find the person within 9 feet of his or her location.”
The GPS feature also can send the coordinates of users each time the push-to-talk button is pressed and then released at the end of a transmission, or at an interval predetermined by the user. For example, it can be programmed to transmit coordinates every two minutes. Completely configurable, it also is compatible with any mapping software that accepts National Emergency Management Agency coordinates. All data then are transmitted to a command-and-control center, or to a laptop computer, depending on an agency’s requirements.
The radios currently are being field-tested with the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the National Park Service. New security features now available for the radio line can be purchased individually or as an entire package, depending on a customer’s needs, Biljan said. For example, customers interested in a GPS software upgrade can purchase the feature for $200 through the company’s FTP site.