Catalyst and The Burning Man

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100 miles north of Reno, in the Great Basin area of northern Nevada, lays the Black Rock Desert. The region is notable for its paleogeologic features, as an area of 19th-century Emigrant Trails to California, as a venue for rocketry, and as an alternative to the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah, for setting land speed records.

It is also the location for the annual Burning Man Festival.

Burning Man is an annual gathering that takes place at Black Rock City—a temporary community erected in the Black Rock Desert. First held in 1986, Burning Man 2016 was held between August 28 and September 5, 2016.

At Burning Man the community explores various forms of artistic self-expression including experimental and interactive sculpture, building, performance, music , art and other mediums, often inspired by the yearly theme, chosen by organizers. Participation is a key precept for the community. Close to 70,000 people attended the 2016 Burning Man Festival.

A crowd of that size needs – temporarily – safety services commensurate with a city the size of Lynchburg (pop.78,000) and the Bureau of Land Management(BLM), who manage and protect the Black Rock Desert lands, looked to Forest VA’s own  Catalyst Communications Technologies for their safety and administration Radio Dispatch needs. On short notice, Catalyst built and installed a Dispatch Operations center with 6 console positions that could communicate with fire, law enforcement, EMS, BLM Staff and Burning Man staff organizers during the 10 day Festival through a radio network of eight tower sites.

Catalyst implemented an unique design concept for the Dispatch system. BLM wanted a system they could easily deploy, pack up, and re-deploy year after year in their temporary command center. To simplify setup, Catalyst installed a Dispatch Console that included a monitor, computer, speakers and microphone assembled as a single unit. The unified console system drops into a storage box as a unit and can be re-deployed simply next year. The computers that control each of the base station radios were similarly designed for easy implementation, using new, compact computers in a simple to deploy rack.

During the Burning Man Festival, radio dispatch was in operation 24 x 7 to process radio communications; everything from vehicle registration and license checks, to ambulance calls, to law enforcement. Next year, Burning Man Festival attendees can expect safe and reliable radio communications thanks in part to technology developed right here in Forest VA from Catalyst Communications Technologies.

Harris Tait Partnership provides new opportunities for Catalyst

Earlier this month, Harris and Tait Communications announced an exclusive exclusive agreement between the two companies, including integrating the two vendors’ distribution channels.

Under the agreement, Harris becomes the master exclusive distributor for all of Tait’s Picture1products, including Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) and Project 25 (P25), in North America. The announcement comes at the end of Harris’ DMR agreement with Hytera, whereby Harris was reselling DMR equipment from Hytera under the Harris name.

Harris and Tait are in the middle of their integration rollout plan, and it will be interesting to learn how the two companies products are positioned vis-a-vis each other, especially in mixed networks. This is where Catalyst can provide a major role for customers looking to take advantage of the new partnership.

One strong application for Catalyst is with current EDACS customers wishing to migrate to TAIT DMR. Since Catalyst has intelligent user interfaces to both Harris and Tait radios, including AIS, DFSI, CSSI, & Control Station Interfaces, these radios can exist on a single IP network managed with Catalyst Consoles. And, 2016-08-29_1035 Catalyst Interoperability solutions provide a migration path for customers who wish to move from EDACS to DMR, EDACS to P25 Conventional, Etc. with or without Catalyst Consoles.

Another strong use case for Catalyst solutions is with Tait Conventional P25 radios.  Catalyst Consoles and Interoperability solutions control Tait DMR Trunking Systems and Tait P25 conventional base stations today. The same cannot be said of the current line of Harris Consoles, including Symphony(r).

The industry should be pleased with the partnership, as consolidation can often simplify service and solution choices. Knowing that strong third party solutions that complement these partnerships exist and enhance application capabilities is especially helpful to customers.

Catalyst’s Patent Application will help First Responder Critical Radio Communications

Today at the APCO Show in Florida we announced that we have a patent pending for our invention of a system to allow an Incident Commander to coordinate personnel from disparate units that are using incompatible and different communication devices.

Our patent application describes an innovative process for combining field deployable dispatch and control of radio systems with various control capabilities of radio communications protocols. We believe that this innovative intellectual property will combine the benefits Catalyst technology with standards based radio communications protocols in a way that will uniquely improve communications between First Responders during an Incident.

The technology is particularly powerful as it includes innovative methods for determining when a target communications device is idle or busy and, if busy, managing the audio to prevent the loss of syllables.

Maintain Dispatch Autonomy and take advantage of Regional Public Safety Resources – The Wake Forest Story

For Wake Forest, it started in 2007, when Forsyth County and the City of Winston-Salem Wake Forestcompleted a trunked digital 800 MHz public safety grade radio network and offered to lease radio frequencies to Wake Forest. The department accepted the offer because using the same radio system allowed interoperability, and soon its police and EMS transmissions were on the 800 MHz system.

As the system was used, however, gaps in radio coverage began to appear on campus and became more apparent daily, particularly when the radios were used indoors. Many of the school’s concrete and brick buildings were impenetrable by the 800 MHz radio waves, so the radios were often inadequate when the officers found themselves needing to use their portables indoors.

To solve the problem, Wake Forest investigated having their own radio system, however they did not want to give up access to the regional 800MHZ service.

An article here in Campus Safety Magazines describes the innovative solution – from Catalyst, of course!

Catalyst Propulsion and Simoco DMR Tier III Radios  

Propulsion Console

Propulsion is a graphics rich, critical voice dispatch console for Simoco Tier III radios that provides advanced communications with these radios through the DMR console standard AIS wireline interface. In addition, the console supports a variety of additional standards based and manufacturer proprietary radio interfaces including Project 25 (P25)Common Air Interface (CAI) and Fixed Station Interface (FSI), Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), SmartNet™, EDACS™, LTR, Verizon Push-To-Talk, MDC 1200 and more. Interoperability between radio systems is achieved, and migration from legacy radio systems to Simoco DMR can be easily and thoughtfully managed.

This touch screen compatible, infinitely configurable user interface displays Unit ID, Emergency, and Call History.  Dispatchers can simulselect or patch up to eight channels with intuitive graphical controls, instantly transmit on each module, uniquely set the volume for each module, differentiate audio on select and unselect speakers, and replay recent calls with a single click.  Each agency can add custom graphics to accelerate recognition of who is talking.

Communications between console positions and radios occurs through Radio over IP (RoIP).  Propulsion routes voice and messaging across your organization’s existing computer network using Internet Protocol (IP).  Dispatch positions and interoperability management can be established virtually anywhere on the network including across low bandwidth links like satellite. A peer-to-peer architecture allows communications to keep flowing when a controller or console is off-line.  Bottlenecks are eliminated, reducing connectivity costs and providing reliable voice traffic.

Propulsion Consoles communicate with Simoco Tier III DMR radios through the DMR standard AIS wireline interface. The console also has Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) and Real Time Protocol (RTP) technology which provides interoperability with a wide variety of complementary communications tools including IP Telephones, Collaboration solutions, tablets, etc. Connectivity between these devices, Simoco Tier III radios, radios from other manufactures using different protocols including Project 25 (P25), Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), EDACS, and EIA tone control, and your Dispatchers, can occur over your existing Internet Protocol (IP) network. The Propulsion console is compatible with routers, switches, and other network equipment from a variety of network equipment manufacturers.

Through the DMR Standard AIS Console Interface, Dispatchers have advanced communications with Simoco Tier III radios including:

  • Talk Group selection
  • Unit ID with centralized alias database
  • Emergency Display
  • Patch
  • Simulselect
  • Individual Volume Control
  • Integrated call logs, exportable for billing, analysis, etc.
  • Tone and voice alerts
  • All Call
  • Messaging
  • Control of Auxiliary IO at the Gateway

Contact Catalyst if you’d like more information about the Catalyst / Simoco partnership.