Getting Ready for APCO

apco

APCO is one of two (IWCE being the other) major trade shows that Catalyst attends, as it speaks to our roots supporting public safety officers and first responders. Especially for new product announcements that involve our Project 25 product suite and other capabilities that address the needs of first responders, APCO is the premier venue to demonstrate our mission critical communications technology.

This year, one focus will be our continuing developments in the area of location services. We are convinced that, in the near future, the location information of first responders will be a requirement for most public safety dispatch systems. In the past, the low data rates available on land mobile radio systems has limited data applications like location to be included with most dispatch systems. Location data has primarily been transmitted over cellular networks, not LMR. However, with the emergence of LTE and FirstNet(tm), which can handle much higher data rates and therefore many different applications, location services will become a much more prevalent requirement. We are taking the initiative, as technology leaders, in developing location services today, and have engineered a solution that minimizes the impact of passing location data over low speed LMR networks.

We will also continue to show how both LMR and LTE networks can coexist. This will be the second APCO show where we have demonstrated interoperability between a portable radio on a land mobile radio system, and a cell phone running a push to talk application on an LTE network. Our dispatch solutions can also dispatch to both the portable radio and the cell phone. This is a precursor application to FirstNet(tm),  and as FirstNet(tm) will evolve through transition, interoperability between both radio and cellular devices will be critical. We will have more announcements about this capability as we get closer to APCO.

APCO is in one month, in Las Vegas, and for those who are planning to attend, please stop by and say hello. In addition to showcasing our technology, it’s also a terrific opportunity for us to catch up with our public safety friends. Thank you for everything you do to help keep us safe, and we are proud to develop solutions that help you do your job.

The P25 Executive Summit

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I attended the P25 Executive Summit earlier this month in Portland OR. DHS and the P25 Steering Committee organized the event to help shape the future of the P25 marketplace to ensure operable and interoperable public-safety and national security and emergency preparedness communications efforts. It seems that, after 25 years of P25, we don’t yet have interoperability between LMR systems that meet the needs of end users. And this will be come more problematic as LTE and LMR begin to co-exist in public safety.

For me, one key take-away was the explanation of how we became so mis – aligned, at least compared to the telephony world. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) unites Seven telecommunications standard development organizations and is a collaborative project aimed at developing globally acceptable specifications for third generation (3G) mobile systems, including LTE. In this environment, standards are developed AND THEN vendors develop products that meet the standards.

Contrast this with LMR and P25. In this environment, each P25 manufacturer has historic Human Machine Interface (HMI) preferences and develops their own implementation of the feature and then proposes their interface as a P25 Standard. Sometimes different implementations are both approved as a P25 standards causing confusion with the users as thee implementations meet the standard yet are incompatible with each other.

There were many suggestions as to how to help users navigate P25 interoperability, including:

• Improved P25 User Education and Training is needed
• Users need help to better understand the P25 Standards
• Improvements in distribution and access are needed to make P25 Education readily available to P25 User agencies
• Possible New document: P25 Facts and Myth page (simplistic layman’s terms)
• The use of Social media to disseminate videos, tweets, etc about P25. (Additional resources needed to do this).
• Consider developing a “P25 twitter verse” following for the P25 user community.
• Coordinate education efforts with DHS OEC, DHS OIC CAP, and APCO.

Education alone won’t help end users achieve interoperability between disparate networks be they P25, LTE or legacy. It will help end users understand the constraints of claims by manufacturers that they are P25 compliant yet cannot communicate with another vendor claiming also to be P25 compliant.

Hardware Innovations

ml100g-31-industrial-fanless-nuc-computer-newWe’re always on the lookout for new innovations in hardware, and because we use Windows (r) computers for both our console and radio gateway platforms, we can take advantage of innovations the computer industry introduces on a regular basis. Lately we have seen a lot of innovation in computers that are fanless, with no moving parts, and use solid state storage.

Innovations in this space are very important because it’s the moving parts of a computer that are most likely to fail. And, our critical communications dispatch and interoperability systems are running 24 x 7, so reliability is a key factor in maintaining the high performance levels our customers expect. Paying attention to computer hardware innovations is an ongoing effort at Catalyst to meet these strict requirements.

Recently we’ve been testing – with success – a new computer from Logic Supply, pictured above. The cooling that’s required is accomplished through the heat dissipating shields, and its fanless construction, combined with solid state storage, means there are no moving parts and extends the lifespan of your system. Its sealed design prevents dust, debris, chemical, and moisture ingress, making this computer capable of withstanding the rigors of even the most challenging industrial deployments. And, check out it’s small size:

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We’ll likely promote this computer for Gateway installations where the need for a small computer, and where 1RU servers are not part of the design. This computer can easily fit into most space constrained applications. We’ll continue to innovate, and continue to take advantage of innovation throughout the industry where we conclude it can help our customers.

Catalyst at IWCE – What to Expect

InterLoc™ Location Services First Demonstration at IWCE Orlando Booth 1046

A new location services solution that derives location data from Standards based Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems will be unveiled at IWCE 2018 from Catalyst Communications Technologies. InterLoc™ obtains location and other meta data from standards based LMR networks, providing location and personal identification information from portable and mobile radios. What’s especially unique is that InterLoc™ is not an AVL (automatic vehicle location) service – it’s a Personal Location Service. InterLoc™ highlights a robust collection of demonstrations and capabilities from one of the leading technology innovators in the critical communications industry.

InterLoc™ – Personal Location Services from Standards Based LMR Systems

The InterLoc™ system from Catalyst is also unique because it does not use expensive map licensing or cellular data charges, making the system very cost effective compared to typical AVL solutions. InterLoc™ is intimately tied to Catalyst’s Dispatch and Interoperability solutions, and Dispatchers can initiate text and voice communications directly from the map. Maps can display subscriber status (such as Emergency) and Dispatchers can center the map on any resource with the click of a mouse. Multiple maps, and multiple types of maps, can be simultaneously displayed, and a robust map toolkit helps Dispatchers customize maps to help manage their critical communications tasks.

IPC Lite

Also at IWCE: FirstNet™ Ready – LMR /LTE Interoperable Communications

With the announcement that all 50 States have opted into FirstNet™, the nation’s effort to establish a unified network for First Responders using LTE at the network core, attendees at this year’s International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) Conference can expect innovative applications around LTE technology. The immediate concerns are how existing Land Mobile Radio users will gracefully migrate voice communications to LTE and FirstNet™ and how existing LMR users will interoperate with new LTE FirstNet™ users. Catalyst Communications Technologies has the answer to both these pressing questions. Catalyst will demonstrate communications between LMR portable radios and mobile phones that are PTT enabled and integrated with a nationwide LTE network.

The significance of this demonstration is that in a FirstNet™ environment the nationwide LTE Network can be easily replaced with FirstNet™’s nationwide network. The promised benefits of FirstNet™ can be experienced today!

This demonstration will showcase several technology breakthroughs:

  • A single Dispatch Console can dispatch to both LMR radios and LTE cell phones, display essential information like Unit ID/Alias, and manage them consistently so that dispatchers don’t have to use different procedures for each.
  • Robust, flexible interoperable communications can be established between LMR portable radios and PTT enabled mobile phones that manage the audio flow so that syllables are not lost, as well as allowing dispatchers to remotely adjust the patched LMR channel.
  • Voice Communications and radio control can pass through multiple interconnected networks, including LMR over the air (P25, legacy, etc.), a wide area network backhaul, the LTE data cellular backhaul, and the LTE PTT cellular over the air network.

The potential of FirstNet™ to expand coverage can be realized today using LTE as the network backhaul. Remote locations that do not have LMR radio coverage can now be included in first responder networks because the coverage footprint of LTE is so much greater than any agency’s LMR.

Firstnet diagram

Also at IWCE: FIRE-BK™ – Catalyst’s Incident Command solution with BK Technologies Radios

Another Catalyst demonstration is Field Incident/Repeater Element – BK Technologies (FIRE-BK™), a portable radio communications solution that packages two radios, Radio Control Software, Dispatch Software, and Interoperability Software into a single unit. Designed for incident command applications where local dispatch and interoperability to multiple first responder organizations are required, the inclusion of multiple radios with different frequencies allows additional first responders supporting an incident to be included in the communications path. Catalyst will demonstrate this application with BK Technologies KNG mobile radios.

Fire BK

The importance of this demonstration is that, because of the advanced control of this radio through Catalyst technology, the Unit ID from a wide variety of subscriber radios (Project 25, SmartNet, EDACS, DMR, etc.) can be passed to the P25 subscriber radio. Especially for high stress incidents such as fire, it is vital that they see the unit ID and the associated alias so that first responders know with whom they are communicating.

The demonstrations at the IWCE Convention will take place in Catalyst Booth #1046 throughout the days of March 7 & 8 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. Catalyst personnel will demonstrate their technical innovations including InterLoc™ location services, FirstNet™ Ready LMR to LTE communications, Dispatch Console solutions, Radio Interface technology, and BK Technologies radio capabilities, and discuss critical communications solutions specific to visitor applications.

 

Catalyst teams with EF Johnson to offer a killer deal on a Radio + Console Package

Time Sensitive offer ends March 16, 2018 – ACT NOW!

We have long been fans of EF Johnson and their excellent mobile radios. In addition to customers choosing EF Johnson – centric networks, their ability to work on Motorola Smartnet(tm) and Smartzone(tm) networks provided Catalyst Dispatch users advanced display control of Emergency and Unit ID on those networks.

These ES radios have reached their end of life, and EF Johnson has partnered with Catalyst to offer a sweet deal – a highly discounted radio system including Catalyst Dispatch Consoles, Catalyst IPJ Gateways, and EF Johnson ES 5300 mobile radios.

This program is only available until March 16, 2018, so contact us today! We’ll highly discount Catalyst Propulsion(tm) and Desktop Dispatch(tm) Consoles and pair them up with discounted IPJ Gateways and EF Johnson radios to offer a complete radio system at an unbelievable price. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to aquire a modern digital Radio over IP system at a fraction of the standard price.

EFJohnson Deal

InterLoc(tm) Location Services – New Location Services solution integrated into Catalyst Dispatch, and capturing GPS Location from standards based LMR Radios

At the International Wireless Communications Exposition in Orlando FL this week, a new location services solution that derives location data from Standards based Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems is unveiled. InterLoc™ from Catalyst Communications Technologies, obtains location and other meta data from standards based LMR networks, providing location and personal identification information from portable and mobile radios. What’s especially unique is that InterLoc™ is not an AVL (automatic vehicle location) service – it’s a Personal Location Service. By capturing this information from standards based LMR systems, a dispatcher can track the location of an individual even when they are outside a vehicle.

InterLoc™ – Personal Location Services from Standards Based LMR Systems

Many Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems rely on proprietary devices that are mounted in a vehicle and use commercial cellular networks to retrieve location. The InterLoc™ system from Catalyst is also unique because it does not use expensive map licensing or cellular data charges, making the system very cost effective compared to typical AVL solutions. InterLoc™ is intimately tied to Catalyst’s Dispatch and Interoperability solutions, and Dispatchers can initiate text and voice communications directly from the map. Maps can display subscriber status (such as Emergency, Unit ID, Talk Group, etc.) and Dispatchers can center the map on any resource with the click of a mouse. Multiple maps, and multiple types of maps, can be simultaneously displayed, and a robust map toolkit helps Dispatchers customize maps to help manage their unique and immediate needs.

The user interface of InterLoc™ is intuitive and integrated into Catalyst’s IP|Console™ and Propulsion™ Dispatch solutions. When a radio user declares an emergency, the icon of the radio that declared the Emergency turns red and stays red until the Emergency is acknowledged by one of the Consoles. The Dispatcher can select an individual or group and initiate a text message or voice call from the map screen.

The map interface is infinitely flexible. Multiple maps, and multiple map types, may be inserted anywhere within the Catalyst console user interface including behind a tab or on a separate monitor and can be any size, including full screen. The Dispatcher can simultaneously view the big picture and zoom in to see precise movements. The system administrator can customize maps, adding buildings, towers, and other assets, and can temporarily add “push pins” to indicate fixed, event-based locations.  No internet connection is required for map services, and maps can be downloaded and cache- saved.

A Subscriber List view augments the map, showing radio users that are communicating and locatable on the map. Clicking on a user in the Subscriber List centers the map on the subscriber. This list can be sorted in various ways to aid the Dispatcher while communicating with subscribers through the map or through the console.

InterLoc™ is available from Catalyst today for integration with radio systems using DMR Tier III and Simoco radios, or DMR Tier II or NXDN using Kenwood radios. Other Standard based radios and radio systems will be included in the InterLoc™ product suite.