I recently felt a renewed sense of confidence in federal disaster response leadership after speaking with Tim Manning, FEMA’s deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness. In fact if I was in a bind, he’d be the man I’d call.
After months of whispers and industry hand-wringing over a new standard for intrinsically safe portable radios that would require massive redesigns of many LMR systems, multiple key organizations publicly have expressed concern in the last week over the FM Approvals 3610 standard that is scheduled to become effective in less than 14 months.
Simply, consumer devices don’t cut it in terms of durability and battery life in the enterprise. David Krebs, analyst with VDC Research, says that as more enterprises embrace smartphones, the demand for more-ruggedized versions that can last longer will grow. Already, vendors are moving to meet this demand.
Under the new FM guidelines, intrinsically safe radios will need to use less power than the current 3 watts that is standard in the industry. Exactly how much less appears to be a matter of debate, as the implications of the FM Approval proposal have to be tracked through footnotes from multiple standards from at least two other organizations.
Sometimes buzz covers up other important stories. One such story concerns the upcoming changes by insurance company FM Global to the intrinsically safe (IS) standard for land-mobile radios. Those guidelines include a reduction of maximum power output for IS units from 3 watts to 0.5 watts for Class 1, Division 1 devices as of Jan. 1, 2012.
Like many state, Missouri has a “classic urban-rural dichotomy,” with the bulk of the state’s population being in the metropolitan areas of Kansas City and St. Louis, which the rest of the citizenry is dispersed across an expansive geographic region. As a result, using the propagation characteristics of VHF makes sense for the state.
If I had lived in biblical times, I am certain that my heart — if not my money — would have been with David rather than Goliath. So, while I was in Orlando, Fla., a couple of weeks ago to cover the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch conference, I made a side trip over to West Melbourne to pop in on Relm Wireless.
When an analog signal is staticky, portions of the communication still can be discerned; in contrast, a digital signal afflicted by static generally is unintelligible. The ability to hear even part of a mayday message can mean the difference between life and death.