September 05, 2008
Harris Corporation Enters the Public Safety Market to Deliver Critical Interoperability
Harris Corporation Enters the Public Safety Market
“ The inability to communicate was a critical element of the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, crash sites, where multiple agencies and multiple jurisdictions responded.” — The 9-11 Commission Report, 2004
“Fire and emergency resources from mixed agencies still do not have common statewide frequencies to give them the capability to communicate.” — Blue Ribbon Commission Task Force Report on California Wildfires, 2008
“ The Hurricane Katrina disaster has exposed that the nation has made little progress in creating a unified system for first responders to communicate with each other.” — The First Response Coalition, a trade association, 2006
Three incidents of national significance. Three similar conclusions about the inability of first responders to talk to each other at a time when they most needed to. Despite these painful experiences and a push from lawmakers, direct communications interoperability for homeland security remains an elusive goal. That’s true even though another large government organization—the U.S. military—has successfully developed and is utilizing technology that allows for direct communication between deployed forces.
The military’s solutions use software-defined, multiband, multimission radios that cover the full VHF and UHF frequency spectrum and beyond. By contrast, U.S. homeland security and software-defined, multiband, multimission radios that cover the full VHF and UHF frequency spectrum and beyond. By contrast, U.S. homeland security andpublic safety agencies use single-banded radios that make it diffi cult for emergency personnel from disparate agencies to talk to one another. Achieving homeland security interoperability has been slowed by a range of factors, including a lack of funding, inter-jurisdictional turf battles, and confusing proprietary technologies.
Addressing the interoperability challenge
As the leading provider of tactical radios to militaries around the world, Harris Corporation understands the advantages of communications interoperability—and is working to apply that knowledge to public safety. Harris has entered the market for public safety land mobile radios with new multiband radio products that simplify inter- and intra-agency communication— particularly during emergencies—and encourage more coordination and collaboration.
The company’s new Unity line of software-defined radios, introduced at the APCO 2008 show in Kansas City, allows federal, state, and local public safety agencies to communicate using a single radio.
The first product is the Unity XG-100, a multiband portable land mobile radio that provides reliable and secure interoperable communications over public safety frequency bands from 136 to 870 MHz. This range will enable emergency personnel to communicate directly without having to carry multiple radios or route transmissions through ad-hoc network bridges.
The new radio will be fully compliant with APCO Project 25 (P-25) in both conventional and trunking modes. APCO P-25 is the technical standard for digital public safety radio communications developed by the Association of Public Safety Communications Offi cials. The P-25 standard is the fundamental building block in enabling interoperable public safety communications at the state, federal, and local levels.
“The nation’s homeland security, public safety, and federal agency communities have been at a significant communications disadvantage for too long,” said Kevin Kane, director of U.S. business development and federal agency sales, Harris RF Communications. “The existing public safety communications system only provides for the most basic functionality and it inhibits the ability of first responders to marshal their collective resources on-site.
“We’re proposing a new direction— one that provides innovative solutions for interoperable communications that will enhance the operational capabilities from the local police department up through the National Guard. Harris is ready to lead the way, with more than four decades of experience brought to bear on this problem.”
Meeting today’s standard, building a foundation for the future
Harris Corporation entered the public safety market in February with the RF-1033M, the first multiband radio targeting the needs of federal first responders. The Unity XG-100 introduction expands on the capabilities of the RF-1033M and extends the frequency range to cover the 700/800 MHz frequency bands. Harris developed the Unity XG-100 based on extensive positive feedback received from public safety users nationwide.
The Unity XG-100 is approximately the same size of currently fielded singlebanded communications systems. The multiband capability of the radio willallow public safety agencies to phase-in their transitions to new networks, including the newly available 700 MHz frequency band. The Unity XG-100 is also easily upgradeable via software updates to support evolving P-25 standards, future capabilities, and changing mission requirements.
Both the XG-100 and RF-1033M are built upon Harris’ heritage as a leading supplier of software-defined tactical military radios. The company’s Falcon family of radios is used by the U.S. Department of Defense and ministries of defense around the world to allow war fighters to talk to each other in a range of challenging circumstances.
Making it easier to talk and work as one
While current public safety communications systems can only deliver interoperability through a network and combination of tower-based trunking systems, repeaters, and other equipment, multiband radios like the Unity XG-100 will provide direct interoperability between agencies.
“By using Harris’ multiband technology, first responders will be able to move between communication networks easily—quite literally by simply changing the setting on a dial,” said Kane. “They no longer have to carry multiple radios or figure out how to interoperate on the fly. They’ll have the entire spectrum of communication capabilities at their fingertips.”
“Our expertise will lead to products that will promote better collaboration, decision-making, and teamwork,” said George Helm, vice president and general manager, U.S. Government Products, Harris RF Communications. “First responders can eliminate the time-consuming work-arounds they are faced with today and focus on obtaining and sharing critical information in real time.”