There’s no need to change the intrinsic-safety standard
There are people who walk among you who are every product marketer’s greatest nightmare. They are the people who rarely try new brands or upgrade to new technologies. Once they find something that works for them, they stick to it. I know, for I am one of those people. For instance, I am wearing the same brand of jeans and sneakers, and using the same brands of personal-care items that I was buying 30 years ago. I am always the last one in my circle of friends to migrate to the latest technology. I only recently purchased an MP3 player. And I doubt I ever will buy an electronic reader — a book serves me quite well, thank you very much.
There are instances, however, when different clearly is better. Prostate cancer is one of those instances. There is a screening test for this disease that measures the level of the prostate-specific antigen that is in the bloodstream. A score of 4.0 once was considered the dividing line between normal and abnormal. But things have changed, because researchers discovered that many cancers were being missed when the scores landed between 4.0 and 2.5, particularly in younger men. As a result, the medical community increasingly is embracing 2.5 as the new threshold for normal, and lives are being saved. This is a case where changing the standard clearly is the right decision.
I’m not sure that the decision to change the intrinsic-safety standard, as it applies to electronic devices, stands up to this litmus test. As Senior Writer Donny Jackson will report in next month’s print edition of Urgent Communications, the decision seems to be driven solely by the desire to bring North America’s version of the standard in line with the version that is used in the rest of the world. Apparently, the proposed changes have nothing to do with safety, as the current standard seems to be working just fine in that regard.
This is troublesome, because the proposed changes would affect the power outputs for portable land-mobile radios, which in turn would have a negative effect on coverage. This could have a negative effect on the pocketbooks of system operators, who would have to spend untold millions to upgrade their systems and subscriber units in order to bring them into compliance with the new standard and ensure that performance levels continue to be what they are today.
The worst reason in the world to do anything is because that’s the way you’ve always done it. The adage doesn’t seem to apply to the intrinsic-safety standard. Just like with blue jeans, it makes sense to stick with the current standard because it doesn’t appear to be broken. The organizations that govern this standard should rethink their decision.
What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.
For more information on digital radios and radio over IP, attend these sessions at IWCE in Las Vegas, March 7-11, 2011.