SoundOff Signal bluePRINT

SoundOff Signal bluePRINT®

By Brad Brewer

 

As technology advances at a rate that many of us struggle to maintain, there will always be those who are able to leverage the latest technology to improve our lives and make people safer. Over the past decade, police fleet managers have seen many emergency lighting vendors attempt to provide a one module ‘does all’ control system solution for police vehicles in 2018. While some have had success, others not so much. Oftentimes with new technology comes complexity for both the installer and the end user. The problem has always been how do we install superior cutting-edge technology without over-complicating the installation and the day-to-day operation of that technology?

While applying that cutting-edge technology to modern police vehicles, running CAN bus electrical systems that throw trouble codes the moment the vehicle is touched often creates unwelcome installation complexity. The desire from fleet managers has always been “give me the latest technology with reduced complexity, not more complexity.”

SoundOff Signal has answered that call for law enforcement with a program called bluePRINT®. bluePRINT® has been around for years in various versions, but recently SoundOff released its latest version, which has really set the bar for emergency vehicle lighting control technology.

So, what exactly is bluePRINT® and what sets it apart from these previous attempts to control the siren and lights on today’s modern police vehicle? bluePRINT® is a control system package made up of hardware and software that integrates traditional siren and lights with vehicle functionality for automated logic. bluePRINT® hardware has a main central controller, a remote controller node, and several switching control heads that come in either a handheld or console-mounted style depending on operational need.

bluePRINT® creates a safer environment for officers through more effective use of a traditional emergency lighting system. This system allows officers to stay focused on the task at hand while keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Lights and siren configurations are pre-programmed and prioritized to respond to emergency situations without the officer having to determine which buttons and switches to activate while driving.

Just like texting while driving, officers are constantly occupied with technology and other distractions (including high speed) while navigating through traffic in Code 3 response mode. This requires a shift in concentration and a refocus of the eyes and hands.

 

When multitasking under stress, fine motor skills become more difficult to perform and finite motor skills are lost while gross motor skills remain (i.e., looking down and pressing airhorn button vs. simply hitting the steering wheel horn). By automating how the vehicle reacts under certain parameters, bluePRINT® helps officers reduce their decision load while in high-stress situations.

bluePRINT® is an intuitive system that uses certain parameters to create safer environments for officers. For example: During a traffic stop to gain tactical advantage, if an officer wanted to use high beams to create a takedown wall of white light while keeping his/her eyes locked on the vehicle or the occupants in the vehicle, a matrix can be programmed such that only when in park, the high beam illuminates the scene. That way, if that same officer were driving down the road and activated the high beams normally, only the vehicle high beams will turn on, not full-scene takedown lights, which could blind oncoming traffic.

Another tactical advantage feature that can be programmed in is a feature called Blitz. With bluePRINT®, the officer simply activates the Blitz function to instantly activate

all emergency lighting and siren to stun the potential offender. This feature is designed to stun and overwhelm the offender’s mindset if the offender were contemplating an attack plus it provides the officer with an additional two to three seconds to create distance and take appropriate action if necessary.

The key takeaway here is the use of technology to make that light combination decision as opposed to the officer dropping his/her eyes and having to consciously be unfocused on the threat and to re-focus on the vehicle’s equipment. There is no need to lose situational awareness while trying to manipulate new technology. The goal is easier and safer, not harder and riskier.

By leveraging this technology and automating many features previously requiring officer input, bluePRINT® reduces many common causes of officer-involved accidents.

Reverse collisions have always been something that’s plagued police fleets across North America. OEM reverse lighting often isn’t enough, but by adding white light to the rear of the vehicle, activated automatically by the vehicle’s reverse trigger, bluePRINT® can illuminate the area behind the vehicle, reducing the amount of times an officer accidentally backs into something.

 

Code 3 response is one of the riskiest procedures police officers are required to do. Roads are more congested than ever, new vehicles are built better with more sound deadening, and intersection visibility is often reduced. Intersection accidents can be the most severe type of accident, causing significant damage to the vehicle and the passengers.

With a simple press of the OEM horn, officers can create a wall of white to illuminate the intersection and sound the air horn to give added notification to traffic at the upcoming intersection. Once the OEM horn is released, bluePRINT® can be programmed to set a very rapid, multi-color warning pattern out of all the lightbar heads and an aggressive dual tone coming from the siren. This will continue for a programmed time to allow the vehicle to clear the intersection. After that programmed time, it will automatically revert back to its previous state of flashing and sound.

 

When multiple police vehicles are responding Code 3 in tandem, oftentimes tunnel vision can overwhelm the driver of the second or third responding unit. To enhance the OEM brake lights, bluePRINT® can flash emergency lights to act as added brake lights to the rear of the vehicle. This added light grabs the attention of responding units and can break that tunnel vision of the driver, thus reducing blue-on-blue collisions. 

One rather unique feature is the ability to control the emergency lighting glare as the officer exits the vehicle. Lightbar corner modules can project approximately 1,800 candela into the eyes of an officer. By being able to shut off the end cap and other side lights automatically as the door opens, while keeping it off for a programmed time after the door is re-shut, helps to maintain the officer’s night vision so he/she can see any potential dangers more clearly and react more effectively.

 

Most officers are well aware of the moth to flame condition. This occurs when you have a vehicle full of lights flashing at a rapid rate on the side of the road. As approaching same-direction traffic sees this, they are drawn to it, potentially causing an accident, inadvertently swerving in the vehicle’s direction and running into the back side of the emergency vehicle.

bluePRINT® can utilize situational flash patterns. If the vehicle is sitting in park on the side of the road, it can be programmed to flash in a slow, cautionary back-and-forth pattern to reduce any moth to flame effect. As the urgency of a call progresses, you can alter the flash patterns to match that situation.

Performing traffic stops and Field Sobriety Tests (FST) in areas that are not well lit can be dangerous for the officer and the subject. bluePRINT® can activate just a few modules in the front of the vehicle. This will mark the unit as law enforcement on the side of the road for backup but will not interfere with the officer’s night vision or the FST.

Leaving a patrol car running while on scene is required for certain situations, but that presents an opportunity for that vehicle to be stolen. With bluePRINT®’s built-in ignition security, a connection of a few wires and a little program, the officer can now safely take the keys from the ignition while the vehicle continues to run. However, if someone enters the car to attempt to take it, the ignition will be shut down be pressing the brake or trying to take the transmission out of Drive. 

bluePRINT® Link is an available CAN bus interface module that is integrated into the bluePRINT® control system via the OBDII gateway, providing access to vehicle parameters that may have not been available before by reducing the need to splice into discrete wire triggers, while also leaving the physical OBDII port available for other vehicle equipment and functionality.

The bluePRINT® Link provides access to engine coolant temperature, engine RPM, and throttle pedal position, to name a few. Just like the discrete wires, the vehicle parameters can be mapped as input triggers to automate the control of vehicle lighting. Not only does this reduce the time required to install a bluePRINT® system into a vehicle, it also increases system reliability due to issues when wiring into discrete triggers.

The bluePRINT® system is also situational. You can program certain Boolean logic (if and then parameters) to ensure that the vehicle reacts the way you want in the situation you want it to and only in that situation. Other systems can utilize vehicle triggers to react, but only bluePRINT® allows you to put up to four conditions on 24 different matrix options. Let your imagination soar. If you think it, bluePRINT® can do it.

Since the base system comes with 36 outputs (20 solid-state flashable outputs, four constant-on outputs, three 20-Amp and nine 10-Amp relayed outputs) and 20 inputs, the system is expandable. Agencies can add up to five remote nodes with 10 outputs and four inputs each and bluePRINT® Link™ adds 24 additional inputs. This gives the system up to 86 total outputs and 64 total inputs. No other system has nearly the scalability or expandability that bluePRINT® provides. This allows the system to be customized to fit into any agency’s build and budget.

 

Fleet managers will appreciate the built-in diagnostics. Unlike traditional installs and other control systems, bluePRINT® integrates real-time software diagnostics. In real time, bluePRINT® monitors the entire system including input voltage. Diagnostics also monitor each output for amperage draw, duty cycle, programmed current, and the capability to record seven different fault modes and track the number of times an output has faulted. If there is a failure in the light head or wiring, the system can track and record what the failure was. This significantly reduces the amount of time needed to diagnose issues, especially the intermittent issues.

bluePRINT® allows for one-time setup; the installer or fleet manager configures the system with a Windows®-based computer only once. That unique program or ‘feature build’ is now easily transferred to every new vehicle in seconds, allowing for consistency across the fleet while saving time. The USB port allows for the configuration to transfer from your laptop to the controller. bluePRINT® allows all programmable outputs to be individually timed with ignition and can be programmed to load shed at various voltages.

With the engine turned off, outputs for emergency lighting and technology such as the computer, camera system, and radio can remain powered for a designated period of time. For example, bluePRINT® can set the vehicle’s computer to shut down after two hours of operation while setting the radio to turn off after three hours. bluePRINT®’s Smart Design provides a built-in load shedding feature that will override the pre-determined output shutoff times if the vehicle’s battery voltage drops below a pre-set voltage level (i.e., 11 volts). This feature ensures that the required amount of power will be present to start the engine.

With a decentralized approach to install, the vehicle can have much shorter wire runs to each lighthead. The bluePRINT® Central Controller does not need to be installed in the trunk or rear of the vehicle. This can lead to a decrease in installation time, but more importantly, it can significantly reduce complexity of the installation, which translates into fewer failures and limits the amount of downtime the vehicle may encounter. No more need to independently wire in a separate headlight flasher or cut OEM wires to flash OEM lighting. bluePRINT® is set up to fully integrate with all OEM police vehicle systems.

bluePRINT® essentially does it all from reducing upfit complexity, improving the upfit quality, reducing downtime, and limiting total cost of ownership regardless of agency size. Most of all, SoundOff has leveraged cutting-edge technology with the simple goal of making everyone who uses it just a little bit safer.


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Published in Police Fleet Manager, May/Jun 2018

Rating : Not Yet Rated



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