When a fire strikes, time is of an essence for the firefighters and those trapped. Being able to have effective fireground radio communications during these situations is vital, but can be proven difficult. Firefighters are engulfed in a hostile environment filled with smoke, water and falling objects, all while in a cloud of ash-filled darkness. They have safety equipment to help combat these conditions, however during these stress-full situations everything needs to work perfectly, even their radios.
The way we communicate has changed tremendously over the last two decades. As technology advances in two-way communications, so do our devices. A radio is no longer just a radio. With each new generation, additional features and functions are included. But what do all these features do? How do they fit in real-life situations and who will benefit from them?
With many states now passing hands-free laws, the ability to use a communication device while driving is changing. Two-way radios with built-in Bluetooth® provide hands-free communication. While paired with a Bluetooth® headset, commercial vehicle drivers are able to answer a call hands-free and still be complaint with FMCSA.
As another school year approaches, university police departments are gearing up for the large numbers of students, faculty, staff, and community that will converge on university grounds. With the fluctuating amount of people on campuses on any given day, university administrators understand reliable communications is essential to the safety and welfare of a university’s permanent and transitory population.
Security Staff and Crowd Control
Security staff is responsible for maintaining order, deescalating potential threats and conflicts, and coordinating first aid efforts during a crisis. They patrol heavily trafficked areas in and around campuses. Officers and security personnel may be put on duty at research centers and similar facilities that house sensitive, historic or classified materials. When department communication is directly tied in with local law enforcement, security administrators can report emergency incidents directly to first responders.
Wouldn’t it be great if your TV automatically chose just the right program for you based on your viewing preferences? And wouldn’t it be nice if it always showed the clearest and best picture when switching to that channel?
Having your best options automatically chosen, then provided for you, allows you to concentrate on the task at hand. In business communications with dealers and vendors, always receiving the best signal allows you to focus on the more important work.
Voting scan is a new feature in Icom’s IDAS™ radios which allows a mobile user to receive the best signal available so they can stay in contact with their internal and external customers. The feature functions just like a popular election. With the frequencies programmed in the radio and parameters and rules set in place, a vehicle can drive all across a geographical area and always capture the best signal as “voted on” by the vote scan capability.
Businesses such as taxi services and debris (recology) companies require a radio solution that allows their multiple vehicle radios to communicate to a dispatcher but not between each other. They find limited communication is beneficial in reducing the unnecessary conversations, which also reduces radio system load and ensures privacy. This can be achieved when a radio system is configured with a solution called split dispatch. Existing LTR system users are familiar with this feature, but split dispatch is also available in IDAS™ Conventional and IDAS MultiTrunk™ systems with the IA-10401 Split Dispatch Dongle.
We typically think about cell phone service closing down either because of downed towers or massive overload during a disaster or an emergency. Broadcast stations as well as police and emergency services can also shutdown for similar reasons.
POWER OF COMMUNICATION OPTIONS
Those services are typically tied to a single approach for communication, however, amateur radio isn’t limited. Sure, on VHF/UHF a repeater might go down but that just means we need to go simplex. Or, amateur operators can readily set up a portable repeater system to get things going once more.
Every year, technology professionals connect, educate and learn about the latest trends at Penton’s International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE). This great event, originally founded in 1977 as the “National Business Radio Dealer Conference,” has become one of the largest industry shows for two-way radio manufacturers. Last year, the Expo welcomed over 350 vendors and more than 7,000 tech buyers. Approximately 75 countries outside the U.S. were represented at the convention, making IWCE truly a global affair.
Even after years of successful deployments, IDAS MultiTrunk remains a mystery for much of the LMR community. This lack of exposure is unfortunate because a properly deployed NXDN Type-D system is a reliable, cost effective, and bandwidth efficient straightforward solution. While P25 has all the hype these days, its implementation is cost prohibitive for many smaller public safety or commercial agencies. These entities typically require modest coverage area, yet more talk paths than a conventional system can offer, and the level of reliability that public safety demands. This mid-level solution is where MultiTrunk really shines.
A two-way radio system using a repeater may have great coverage except in areas, such as parking garages and basements of buildings, whose environmental factors create stubborn “dead” spots. In these locations, the repeater signal reaches the radio, but the handheld cannot reach back to the repeater. The traditional solution to this problem is to add Bi-Directional Amplifier and Distributed Antenna System within the building. Although this is a proven approach to get signals into problem areas, it can be complicated and costly. The complication comes from ensuring the signal is not overlapping the original in a manner that interferes with itself. The costliness is due to the need of running antenna coaxial cable from the amplifiers to the trouble zone, which may require many feet of cable and possible drilling through walls.
When there’s a need to extend the coverage of handheld two-way radios, the first option is usually a repeater. However, a repeater isn’t the full answer. A repeater will typically put out much more power and have a better antenna system than the portable radios with which it is communicating. This presents an unbalanced system where the transmit power of the repeater reaches much further than the transmit power of the handhelds.
Couldn’t this be resolved by turning the power of the repeater down to match the handheld? The reality is that often times mobile radios installed in vehicles and handheld radios are in use on the system. Mobile radios typically have greater transmit power than handhelds. Reducing the repeater power output to match the lowest powered device – the handheld – significantly constrains the system coverage, making the usable radius of the system much less than what it could be.