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The Future of LMR Radio Systems

For the past few decades, first responders relied on land-mobile radio systems (LMR), which although have proven to be very effective, are limited on some levels. For example, certain forms of LMR give limited access to first responders. While one agency may be able to contact another, many times all first responders will be unable to contact every agency involved.

This can put a damper on effectiveness and efficiency. Recently, certain technical companies that specialize in public safety programs have come up with some new, noteworthy products. Not only are these products great for the market, they are extremely efficient for first responders.

Motorola Solutions has been part of the LMR scene for decades. They are now seeking new ways to innovate the world of public safety communications. “We have three goals at the moment,” said Tom Gutherie, Vice President of the Public Safety Smart Solutions department with Motorola Solutions. “First of all, we have been in partnerships with transitioning communication to modern technology such as with Next Gen 9-1-1 which has gone to text to 9-1-1. We would now like to take on a leadership role in this area,” Gutherie stated.

“Secondly, we would also have the opportunity to take on a leadership role in redefining department command centers. We can do this through intelligence, analytics, and contextual concepts. By doing this, we can help form collaboration within the field.” This type of collaboration means that with the use of carefully designed tools, departments will be able to run more efficiently than before. “We would also like to focus on intelligent-lead public safety,” Gutherie noted.

“This means figuring out what the analytical tools are and how we can make them more effective.” These digital improvements essentially affect every person in the department. “No matter what your role is, whether you are a detective, patrol officer or a dispatcher, each one relies on this communication,” he said.

These improvements may be made in part because of broadband carriers. “We have to find the right combination in order to open up the interface,” Gutherie elaborated. With each new innovation Motorola comes up with, a few key factors are kept in mind. “We have to find a workflow that partners communication. This way, we can integrate it for the best use of the departments who will be using them.”

Airbus DS Communications is another company making improvements on public-safety communication techniques. “VESTA 9-1-1 is used for emergency situations in about 8,000 places,” said Flynn Nogueira, marketing director of Airbus DS Communications. The VESTA radio system functions on an IP structure. It uses advanced technology that can still function properly even if one sector is no longer working due to power outages. “This is exciting because it takes seconds off of communication; this saves lives.”  

In addition, Airbuses’ VESTA radio technology works together in line with Next Generation technology. It is able to offer support as well as additional resource. The next step for Next Generation to take is text to 9-1-1 capabilities. “This would involve IP routing. which would refine and improve the course of service.” Airbus makes it their utmost priority to focus on their customers. “We try to focus on understanding where our customers are,” Nogueira commented.

“When a customer makes an investment, we want to be sure they can utilize the product well. When they are familiar with the type of product, they do not have to learn new things and they are already aware of the plan.” This type of manufacturing benefits all who are going to be using the product. In the world of public safety, implementing a system that staff is already familiar with makes everyone’s job easier.

Since the world of technology is ever-changing, having a system that is up to date, efficient, yet easy to work with is crucial. The goal of Airbus is to encourage communication and to provide departments with more choices when it comes to communication systems. “A new trend that is being seen across the nation is having all services in one spot,” Nogueira said. This type of system would be connected through a common IP.

By having one place where the system is routed from provides a common path to communication for traffic, patrol, and other areas of the department. VESTA also provides mapping services that are part of the VESTA SMS or short message service. VESTA SMS also allows text calls to be taken in departments as it is supports the Text Control Center service.

The VESTA mapping system is another advancement for public safety communication. This product is an upgrade to VESTA Analytic Solution, making those who are familiar with the older system much more comfortable with the new. This is due to the fact the maps provided are up to date and offer the capability for users to transfer information to an entirely different department while still maintaining the line of communication with the caller.

The mapping system is another form of advancement in public safety communications because it can help dispatchers be alert and warn first responders of details such as road conditions. Each of these new VESTA products are upgrades of already established systems. This brings an additional advantage to customers since most will already be familiar with the format of VESTA.

Modern technology has brought about new possibilities for public safety communications. “More media types offer more ways for officers to share communications with those in the field as well as those in the office,” Gutherie said. The traditional roles of communication have been amplified from a basic system to a more complex and intelligent one. “The basic databases can be redefined, offering new, contextual and analytical ways of sharing important information.”

Investing in systems such as these allows departments and agencies across the nation to reach a wider area for responding. This benefits all involved and serves as an aid to fire, police and EMT units. With the growth of our nation as well as our communities, there comes more crime and heightened chances for other emergency situations.

This means there should be more efficient systems implemented in departments. Companies such as Airbus DS Communications and Motorola are doing their best to create products that help first responders be the most efficient they can be.

One day, there may even be room for apps that are specialized according to situation on modern devices that allow officers to alert dispatchers with the touch of button. The future of Motorola is dedicated to improving radio communication in a way that will make it easier, safer, and more intelligent than ever before.

This is the goal for most communication companies. Being able to send a message with a touch of a finger offers large improvement on many levels. This type of technology would greatly step up officers’ safety as well.


Hilary Romig has extensive training in law enforcement and forensics. She is currently pursuing a career in public safety. She is also a member of the Public Safety Writers Association.

Published in Law and Order, Apr 2016

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