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Software Solutions from Twisted Pair

Written by James Mustarde

Twisted Pair solution enhances communication for rural department.
www.twistpair.com

 

In the 10 years since the events of 9/11 highlighted the vitally important role communication plays in public safety and the challenges public safety agencies face, technology advancements have sped on in consumer markets and enterprise environments. Retail consumers have access to the latest and greatest devices for increased social interaction while businesses leverage advanced platforms for better decision making and faster, more efficient operations.

However, the law enforcement landscape today appears to face the same interoperability quandaries of 10 years ago. The lack of progress is not because the technology does not exist. Rather, a hardware-oriented mindset has kept software as an interoperability solution out of the dialogue until now. Software is a proven solution to facilitate real-time collaboration among a mixed bag of private and public response groups, including international, federal, state and local agencies of all sizes, all communicating with different devices on different networks.

Simply and affordably, software ensures communication interoperability for all participants, enabling the effective management of disparate devices, users and policies to create a single, secure and highly scalable unified communications environment. This includes new voice, video, presence and other data solutions for a truly collaborative approach to first response. This important connection helps public safety agencies make faster and more informed decisions during major incidents and day-to-day security and safety events. Software gives them an open line of communication with all invested parties, improving situational awareness for everyone.  

Newer, faster 4G and Wi-Fi networks and fancier device capabilities are shaking things up for consumers and enterprises all over the world. Innovation is providing compelling new rich application environments for receiving and delivering voice, video and other data at lower costs than traditional hardware-based proprietary solutions.

Public safety agencies are starting to take notice, realizing they must reassess their approach to supporting their response teams. The full system overhauls and expensive digital communication upgrades that public safety agencies traditionally require in order to realize the unified communication environments their missions rely upon have become impractical, particularly against the backdrop of a difficult economy.

Agencies have searched for ways to do more with less, needing to expand the function of their legacy equipment, analog radio systems and existing proprietary hardware consoles. And, while many have found that expanding operations with their current configuration would actually lead to diseconomies of scale, draining any return on investment, some have turned to software, realizing that it actually can help them accomplish the opposite.

One such agency is the Sainte-Anne Police Department in rural Manitoba, Canada. The Province of Manitoba is planning to desert its trunked radio system for a digital radio system, requiring all police forces in Manitoba to upgrade their systems. New Sainte-Anne Police Chief Marc Robichaud was familiar with Internet-Protocol technology and thought it could advance his communication system further than a simple radio upgrade. He recognized this as an opportunity to invest in a communication system that would allow his department to continue to advance with technology.

Traditionally, the Sainte-Anne Police Department would have upgraded to a new digital radio system along with the other police forces in the province. However, Robichaud recognized his department was not like the other departments. As a small department, officers rely on each other more than usual and need the ability to connect with one another wherever they are on whatever device they have. Robichaud needed to transform his workflow and sought a solution that would use the smartphone devices his officers already had to replicate the radio system they needed to upgrade.

Ironically, Robichaud was on his smartphone when he happened upon Twisted Pair Solutions’ website and discovered its WAVE software that could turn his smartphone into a push-to-talk radio and connect him with his officers and dispatch, just as he desired. He implemented the WAVE Mobile Communicator for the department’s smartphones and the WAVE Desktop Communicator for dispatch, improving management of operations, including time, tasks and location.

Twisted Pair Solutions’ WAVE software empowers your mobile workforce with critical communications applications for secure, real-time collaboration anywhere on any device built upon a battle-tested communications interoperability platform that delivers voice, video, location, presence and other forms of data deployed as an enterprise product or cloud based service throughout commercial, public sector and defense organizations worldwide. WAVE Connections is a free cloud-based voice communications service that provides device and network freedom – and all of the benefits that come with it – to the members of the Sainte-Anne Police Department.

The advantage of software for the Sainte-Anne Police Department is that members have their smartphones on them all the time. As soon as there is a need for an officer to be in play, they are able to immediately be integrated into the response and can stay in communication en route. Officers simply mount their smartphones on their lapel with a clip, as if it were a radio microphone.

Recently, an officer responded to a domestic dispute and needed assistance. Robichaud received the call at home directly on his smartphone. He was able to monitor the situation as he got dressed and proceeded to the scene. Historically, Robichaud would have received a call at home and would have been completely disconnected from the situation until he was able to retrieve his radio at the station, delaying his ability to respond and support the officer in need.

The software-based model allows the Sainte-Anne Police Department to continuously advance with technology. Smartphone upgrade programs allow the department to change devices every two years, while the expense involved in the purchase of traditional two-way radios requires a 10- to 15-year commitment.

The power of software has freed Sainte-Anne Police Department from the restrictive hold of traditional radio communication, allowing the department to take advantage of text and e-mail communication and reducing the costs associated with traditional radio and phone communication. In addition, Sainte-Anne Police Department addressed some concerns about the ruggedness of smartphones by implementing battery-replacement policies and building OtterBoxes for the devices, making the devices law-enforcement ready on its own.

By leveraging software to overcome costly hardware upgrade and system overhaul needs, agencies can extend the range and scope of their existing communication and collaboration networks while incorporating new and exciting capabilities into their operations. Software is the most flexible and affordable operability and interoperability solution available today. It is a gateway to leveraging new platforms for receiving and sharing information. The deployment of software in the law enforcement community means establishing a higher standard of situational awareness, helping agencies save more time, resources and lives.

 

James Mustarde is the Marketing Director for Twisted Pair Solutions, a leader in critical communications applications for commercial, public sector and defense organizations worldwide. He may be reached at james.mustarde@twistpair.com.

Published in Law and Order, Oct 2012

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