This blog is by Bob Fennelly, Head of Government and Public Safety
As the U.S. embarks on an ambitious effort to build a nationwide LTE network for public safety first responders, important lessons are already available from pilot deployments around the country. These systems – many delivered by NSN and its public safety partners – not only show the value of flexible video delivery from incident scenes, but also that interoperable LTE public safety deployment is an achievable reality.
While a functional nationwide network takes shape, several public safety pilot networks, authorized by the Federal Communications Commission, have provided early experience and lessons learned with interoperable 4G LTE deployments. Three of these are detailed in a new white paper, “LTE Serving Public Safety,” written by Yankee Group’s Principal Analyst Ken Rehbehn, who offers conclusions and recommendations based on his research and interviews with many parties involved in each trial. NSN commissioned the paper, but the opinions belong to Yankee Group.
Here are some highlights of the test deployments:
2012 Republican National Convention
A partnership between public and private entities jointly sponsored a proof of concept of the proposed LTE network technology at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. With 50,000 attendees and 3,000 law enforcement officers, it was the ideal place to test the ability of public safety officials to coordinate and respond to emergency situations. With local agencies supplying access to existing and portable facilities, system integrator Raytheon oversaw deployment of system components contributed by NSN, Cisco and Amdocs.
2013 Super Bowl
Another opportunity to test the functionality of an LTE public safety network was utilized by Harris Corporation at this year’s Super Bowl game in New Orleans. The city anticipated as many as 150,000 fans for the event, and Harris outfitted members of the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) with Android tablets to monitor public areas at the game to identify suspicious packages or behavior. They implemented NSN Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Stations along with Cisco core elements, allowing the volunteers to stream live from the streets of the city, supplementing existing fixed camera systems.
In addition to event-specific support, technology demonstrations in anticipation of the FirstNet rollout have been ongoing in local government agencies such as law enforcement and EMS operations. In Des Moines, Iowa, for example, local communications equipment provider RACOM teamed up with NSN, Harris and Cisco. Together they established an LTE network that uses applications similar to those employees are already accustomed to, reducing the learning curve in using the system to communicate as they respond to emergency situations.
All of these pilot tests are bringing the nationwide first responder LTE network closer to reality, overcoming the interoperability challenges posed by disparate agencies and a wide variety of legacy systems used throughout the country. For more information on these test deployments and how they are paving the way for a unified public safety LTE network, we invite you to download the white paper here.