LTE pilot projects offer a glimpse of public safety’s future
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In addition to event-specific support, technology demonstrations in anticipation of the FirstNet rollout have been ongoing in local government agencies such as law enforcement and the emergency medical services. In Des Moines, Iowa, for example, local communications equipment provider RACOM teamed with NSN, Harris and Cisco to establish an LTE network that used applications similar to those that employees already are accustomed to, reducing the learning curve in using the system to communicate as they respond to emergency situations.
In contrast to the other STA-based pilot opportunities, the Des Moines demonstrations integrated 700 MHz Band 14 capability across various government agencies. Because the other pilots operated as part of complex live events with active threat potential, actual in-hand use of LTE devices was carefully planned for select user groups. In Des Moines, however, demonstration planners employed advanced communications prototypes without jeopardizing active missions.
By applying 700 MHz Band 14 LTE to everyday emergency-incident scenarios, the Iowa technical demonstration answered several important questions facing policymakers today as they mull the future of public-safety communications. With applications ranging from command-and-control to patient care, the demonstration illustrated how advanced mobile broadband communications can help first responders manage complex incidents and deliver efficient service to the public.
One step closer to reality
All of these pilot tests are bringing the nationwide first-responder LTE network closer to reality, a network that will overcome the interoperability challenges posed by the wide variety of legacy systems used by disparate agencies throughout the country. NSN highly encourages more of these pilots in the coming months as FirstNet finalizes its plans. These pilots provide a low-cost, quick-turnaround vehicle to gain valuable insights and a means of gathering more crucial feedback and hands-on involvement from the public-safety community. For more information on these test deployments and how they are paving the way for a unified public safety LTE network, a white paper can be downloaded here.
Bob Fennelly is head of government business at Nokia Solutions and Networks.