We’ll be updating everyone this month with news about what is going down at IWCE in Orlando March 5-8. We’re excited to tell you we’ll have a major new product announcement. Here’s a spoiler alert! Can you guess???
New Methods permit previously incompatible communications devices to interoperate under the control of an Incident Commander
Catalyst Communications Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of IP-based Dispatch and Interoperability solutions for Critical Communications, today announced that it has been awarded patent 9,848,311 for its invention of a system to allow an Incident Commander to coordinate personnel from disparate units that are using incompatible and different communication devices.
The company’s patent describes an innovative process for combining field deployable dispatch and control of radio systems with various control capabilities of radio communications protocols. Management believes that this innovative intellectual property will combine the benefits of Catalyst technology with standards based radio communications protocols in a way that will uniquely improve communications between First Responders during an Incident.
“Radio communications during Incidents is complex because many different First Responders are often involved, and each bring their own radio. Catalyst has a proven track record of developing innovative technology to meet the needs of First Responders and the complex environments under which they serve.” stated Robin Grier, president of Catalyst. “By continuing to invest in technology development that helps First Responders, we believe we can help save lives.”
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. The technology is currently deployed in Catalyst products ICE™, FIRE™, and FIRE-BK™, solutions for Incident Command and advanced digital vehicle repeater applications. Patent drawings in support of the invention mirror the architecture of these three Catalyst solutions.
Robin Grier has been invited to speak at next year’s IWCE Convention. IWCE is the authoritative event for education, networking and collaboration in the communications technology marketplace.
Robin will be joined on a panel discussing
Broadband Applications: What Can They Do for Your organization?
He’ll be sharing his knowledge and insights with other panelists including Morne Stamrood from Tait Communications, Tom Guthrie from Motorola, Denis Coulon from APPI-Technology, Mike Ridge from Avtec, Kofi Appiah from Harris and Bill Moore from Zello.
Broadband Applications represent a new frontier for critical communications. Data – centric applications have limited capabilities when constrained by the data bandwith of current public safety radio spectrum – typically 9.6 or 19.2 kbps. As LTE and LTE provisioned FirstNet(tm) networks become more pervasive, the data bandwidth of these networks – 300 to 500 Mbps – will enable many new applications that help First Responders.
IWCE 2018 takes place March 5-9, 2018 in the North Concourse at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando Florida.
15+ Years supporting First Responders on O’ahu
What do you think of when you think of Hawaii? Perfect weather, tropical beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls, surfing. When Catalyst thinks about Hawaii, at the top of our minds is our longterm collaboration and support of public safety communications for the city of Honolulu and the surrounding communities on the island of O’ahu.
In 2001, Catalyst first installed an innovative new radio voice dispatch system provide backup communications for the multisite 800 MHz Push-to-Talk network used by the Honolulu Police Department. The island’s mountainous terrain requires 16 radio towers and the back-up system needs to independently reach each of these geographic regions. The system routes voice messages from patrol cars across the City’s existing computer network using a technology that Catalyst pioneered called Radio over IP.
The Honolulu-Catalyst partnership produces continued innovation each year, adding new capabilities and streamlining the dispatch operation. In 2005, we added a similar system for the Honolulu Fire Department. Between these two organizations there are thirty-five consoles supporting five thousand subscriber radios making more than a million PTTs per month.
Catalyst and Honolulu Police and Fire have shared many events during our long history together. The city frequently hosts high profile conferences with world leaders and demonstrating robust public safety communications is critical. In other cities, protesters have disrupted these conferences and Honolulu took the necessary steps to deter and manage these groups, during the Asian Development Bank meeting in 2001, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in 2001, and the World Conservation Congress in 2016. In 2006, all Honolulu Police radio voice communications were routed over the Catalyst system during the earthquakes and subsequent aftermath. Two earthquakes, magnitudes 6.6 and 5.8, hit the state of Hawaii Oct. 15, causing landslides and structural damage to buildings and bridges. More recently, 911 and police dispatch services were relocated to HPD’s alternate communications center across the island so that renovations would not disrupt operations. Hurricane force winds, salt air, fires, and the finite life of radio electronics interrupt communications to some portion of O’ahu several times each year and public safety dispatchers are able to instantly restore the connection with field personnel using Catalyst’s IP Console.
Catalyst is proud to serve this longstanding partner and help them provide first responder services to O’ahu residents.
OCTOBER 2017 MARKS RADIO OVER IP COMPANY MILESTONE
October 25, 2017 FOREST VA – Catalyst Communications Technologies, a leading provider of Radio over IP technology for mission critical communications, celebrates its 20-year anniversary this month. In an era when communications companies come and go, Catalyst, a Virginia based business, has continued to innovate, grow and thrive.
Over the past two decades, Catalyst has been responsible for introducing many of the innovations that presently drive first responder and mission critical radio communications. Catalyst deployed the first Radio over IP communications system in 1997, and since then has led the effort to provide advanced radio control over IP capabilities, including standards based control of P25, DMR and legacy radio systems, and proprietary control of many of today’s leading radio manufacturers including Harris, BK Technologies, Tait, Motorola, and Kenwood radios. Recently, Catalyst has introduced new products including IntelliLink™ Gateway, Incident Commander Element (ICE™), and Field Incident/Repeater Element (FIRE™), products that leverage Catalyst’s significant strengths in Dispatch, Interoperability, and Radio Control.
Catalyst Founder and President, Robin Grier, reflected on the company’s 20th anniversary saying, “We are grateful for our customers and alliance partners who made this milestone possible. Thank you to all the truly extraordinary and visionary leaders with whom we’ve worked. Our greatest reward has been their success, knowing that together, we are saving lives.” What lies ahead? “The critical communications marketplace will undergo even greater transition and disruption over the next 5-10 years, as FirstNet™ and competing LTE network infrastructure impacts public safety communications. We have positioned Catalyst to be a major contributor to this emerging environment, as our computer-based technology will simplify applications development for these new networks. I couldn’t be more excited about Catalyst growth and the contributions we can make to improving mission critical communications.”
Catalyst’s flagship products include:
IP|Console™ – Dispatch for P25 and large systems
Propulsion™ – Dispatch for DMR and small to medium sized systems
Desktop Dispatch™ – Dispatch for monitoring and lite PC applications
IntelliLink™ Gateway – interoperability solution to bridge disparate radio networks
Incident Commander Element (ICE™) – Portable / transportable Incident Command and Digital Vehicular Repeater for Harris radio networks
Field Incident / Repeater Element (FIRE™) – Portable / transportable Incident Command and Digital Vehicular Repeater for a wide variety of radio networks
FIRE(tm) is a deployable incident command solution that can provide radio voice communications across several frequency bands for DMR, Project 25, MDC 1200, LTR, NexEdge, LTE and other radio protocols, while providing enhanced graphics and Dispatch command and control to the user. This rugged, compact, and efficient solution offers essential information for fire ground, emergency medical, special rescues, utility restoration and other critical communications incidents. A single hardened laptop integrated with up to four mobile radios delivers commander control with an easy to use GUI. FIRE(tm) can operate in a stand-alone mode or be linked back to the agency’s primary radio system.
When the mission requires operation in talk-around mode, it can be difficult to coordinate activities without the benefit of the main dispatch center. FIRE(tm) allows the Incident Commander to monitor voice communications from these local radios across the primary frequency bands using one integrated tool. Commanders will see a call log of every call placed including Unit ID, a time stamp and Emergency messages (depending on the radio). The audio is recorded and may be replayed on-scene or can be easily transferred to other tools for post processing.
Agencies can link back to their primary radio system via either RF (by patching two of the FIRE(tm) mobile radios together) or via an IP connection. “With FIRE(tm) each person can continue to use their own agency-specific radio and let FIRE(tm) provide the means for local interoperability and dispatch,” said Robin Grier, President of Catalyst. “FIRE(tm) makes it easier than ever for the commander to stay in charge, record and replay messages, and connect back to the main system as needed.”
In addition to multi-band radios that offer frequency flexibility, FIRE(tm) can connect single band mobile radios from many different manufacturers for SmartNet(tm), DMR, P25 and other communications systems.
Next Up: Using FIRE(tm) as an advanced Digital Vehicular Repeater.
Unless you were “friends” with Pafford Medical Services on Facebook, you’re likely unaware of the incredible services this First Responder has performed in service to victims of both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. These are just a few of the posts that describe the activities and resilency of Pafford professionals.
Clay Pafford, Director of Operations and on-site disaster relief manager says, “I am so impressed with the resilience and dedication of the scores of disaster Strike Team personnel who are involved with caring for Hurricane Irma victims. It was only hours between our Strike Team deployments in Texas to being requested to move some of those on to Florida. Our Pafford Strike Teams all came through with flying colors in terms of attitude and skill. However, we could not do the good work we are doing with disaster relief if it wasn’t for those at home- our communications center dispatchers and our EMS professionals who persevere in all our 9-1-1 contract service areas in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Because of everyone taking extra shifts and chipping in where needed, Pafford continues to provide fully-staffed ambulances and uninterrupted response and transport for our 9-1-1 patients until our Strike Teams come home.”
The Pafford strike Teams have deployed to Fort Myers, Boca Raton Lecanto and Key West, Florida, and the week before: Beaumont, Orange, Victoria, Houston, Katy, Kingswood, Vidor, Beaumont, and Winnie Texas. On September 9 Pafford had 18 ambulances, 3 supervisor vehicles, and 40 personnel on the ground in Florida.
Founded in 1967, Pafford Ambulance Service continues to provide emergency medical care to communities in: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Catalyst is proud to count Pafford EMS amoung our First Responder community.
We’ll have more to say about APCO 2017 in subsequent posts to The Dispatch blog, however one of the technical showcases was the Catalyst demonstration of LTE (cellular mobile phone) to LMR (public safety Land Mobile Radio) communications.
In our booth, we had a portable mobile radio and were able to communicate with a Verizon Push to Talk cell phone – right in the booth!
This demonstration was important for FirstNet, because both the cellular network (cell phone to Verizon cellular network) and the Wide Area Network connecting the cellular network to Catalyst Gateways (that were then connected to mobile radios) can some day all be on the FirstNet Network. In that application, FirstNet serves as a backhaul network and can be used to extend LMR coverage to locations that don’t have good radio coverage but do have good cellular coverage.
LMR –LTE Interoperability highlight technology on display for Public Safety Radio Communications
With the announcement of FirstNet™, the nation’s effort to establish a unified network for First Responders using LTE at the network core, attendees at this year’s APCO Conference can expect innovative applications around LTE technology. The immediate concern is how existing Land Mobile Radio users will migrate gracefully 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 of these pressing questions and will demonstrate Dispatch to both LMR radios and LTE Push to Talk cell phones, and interoperable communications between these radios and cell phones, at booth 1308 during this year’s Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Conference. This breakthrough demonstration is one of many examples of innovations representing advances in technology that improve land mobile radio communications of interest to this year’s APCO attendees.
FirstNet™ Ready – the LMR /LTE Interoperable Communications Demonstration
A breakthrough innovation from Catalyst, we 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 promise of FirstNet™ can be experienced today!
The demonstration will showcase a number of 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 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 and allow dispatchers to remotely adjust patched LMR channel.
- Voice Communications and radio control can pass through multiple interconnected networks, including LMR over the air (P25, legacy, etc.), wide area network backhaul, the LTE cellular backhaul and the LTE cellular over the air network.
The promise of FirstNet™ to expand coverage can be realized today as FirstNet™ can perform the role of 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.
BK Technologies Enabled FIRE™ – Catalyst’s Incident Command solution with RELM / BK Technology Radios
Another innovation from Catalyst, Field Incident/Repeater Element (FIRE™) is 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 is required, the inclusion of multiple multi-protocol radios insures that most first responders to an incident can be included in the communications path, regardless of protocol or frequency.
Catalyst will demonstrate this application with a RELM / BK Technology KNG mobile radio. 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, knowing the unit ID, and from that the alias name, first responders know to whom they are communicating with and communications is improved.
Innovations in Hardware Platforms – Leveraging advances in COTS Computer design
Catalyst is demonstrating innovation in Hardware Platforms also. As customer deployments occur in more diverse environments, forward thinking companies, including Catalyst, innovate to employ leading advances in the computer and network industries to enhance operation in land mobile radio. At least 3 demonstrations of hardware innovations merit investigation at the Catalyst booth:
- An advanced hardened computer platform for both console and radio gateway applications is on display. This computer includes solid state memory and a heat dissipation is accomplished through the case. As a result, there are no moving parts, providing high reliability and longevity.
- Another computer platform that will garner interest from APCO attendees is Catalyst’s application for the innovative Intel® Compute Stick. This computer fits in the palm of your hand and is appropriate where space is a premium. The quad-core Intel® Atom™ processor delivers max performance but uses minimum power—making the Intel® Compute Stick both space and energy efficient. Catalyst is demonstrating the Compute Stick with its deployable LMR to LTE unit.
- Catalyst is demonstrating their transportable line of Incident Command and advanced digital repeater solutions – FIRE™ and ICE™. These two products leverage 20 years of software development to solve unique field challenges of first responders with innovative packaging solutions. These products package two to four radios, a simple dispatch console, interoperability, instant call retrieval and recorded audio into a compact, transportable enclosure. Applications for Fire incident command are especially targeted, as these units can be quickly deployed at an incident and provide radio communications and interoperability among multiple agencies on scene. As mentioned above, our FIRE demonstration will include RELM/BK Technology radio.
The demonstrations at the Association of Public Safety Communications Officers (APCO) Convention will take place in Catalyst Booth #1308 throughout the days of August 14 & 15 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Catalyst personnel will demonstrate Innovation Everywhere including FistNet™ Ready LMR to LTE communications, Dispatch Console solutions, Radio Interface technology, RELM/BK Technology radio capabilities, and new Hardware and Packaging innovations and discuss critical communications solutions specific to visitor applications.