This paper describes why multichannel approach using multiple networks is the best way to ensure critical broadband data to public safety vehicles. The approach saves lives, time and money and can be implemented any day.
Goodmill White Paper
Save Time, Money and Lives – How to
Improve Public Safety Efficiency with
Vehicle Broadband Solutions
Goodmill Systems Ltd.
Tarvonsalmenkatu 17, FIN-02600 Espoo, Finland
Smartphone usage is today so widespread that even children can be
considered regular users. Meanwhile, countless applications serve to
enhance users’ lives, work and free time. I use my mobile for e-mail,
maps, navigation, parking and of course entertainment. So it can be
difficult to understand that public servants have worse access to - or
in some cases none of - these capabilities. Despite the almost endless
debates about public safety network infrastructure demands, it is
clear that fast, reliable broadband access would provide an important
addition to their work. In this white paper I’m highlighting why public
safety broadband is important, how it could be implemented and what
the alternative solutions are.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MOBILE
BROADBAND TO PUBLIC SERVANTS
There is a huge benefit in equipping public servants with the ability to use
modern software applications. There is vast amounts of data available in
open or protected databases which could provide an excellent resource.
Even simple modern applications like efficient office programs would
prove very useful whenever workers are mobile. Modern command and
control applications could also benefit greatly from access to mobile
broadband. Larger data capacities would allow for up-to-date maps,
more interactive capabilities, quicker situational updates and better and
sharing of data between mobile units.
The current networks like Tetra, Tetrapol or P25 are built for high
availability voice in critical situations, but are limited to small amounts of
data. What about the current broadband solutions?
THE IMPORTANCE OF AVAILABILITY
When talking about saving lives, it is essential to note that the availability
of online information is of the utmost importance. If one attempts to
fetch information such as criminal records, up to date building plans
(in case of fire), or to send medical information to a doctor in hospital,
connectivity is crucial. It might not be a matter of a second or two, but
one certainly cannot wait minutes for data to be delivered.
When talking about criticality, the command and control application
becomes a focal point. With an efficient C&C application one can
share information about other units’ locations, target drawings and
various other case specific information. The more instantaneous the
data delivery, the better security it provides for officers on the case.
We have seen live situational pictures shared from the criminal site to
enhance co-operation and to minimize the inefficient use of mobile voice
terminals. But can you be sure that these pictures and other important
data gets transmitted?
ONE BROADBAND NETWORK DOESN’T DO
THE JOB A) COMMERCIAL NETWORKS
The most common mistake made in the area of public safety is to rely
solely on a single commercial broadband network. It seems as though
the vast majority of efforts are directed towards the development of
applications. Too often, connectivity issues are handled casually “we’ll
use the broadband of the number one commercial operator, with a
dongle or similar.” But one network is never enough, no matter if it is a
commercial or even a dedicated network. It is not within any organization
or even nation’s capabilities to build in the redundancy and availability
required just for one network.
All networks have occasional service outages, whether larger or smaller
scale. Networks have internal IP addressing changes also that break the
links and require that new connections are set-up. Typical availability
over any larger single network when in full operation is still only 96-98%.
ONE BROADBAND NETWORK DOESN’T
DO THE JOB B) DEDICATED NETWORKS
The obvious and most used solution to this broadband question is
to repeat the previous implementations in a new environment. The
communication of public safety has previously been handled by
dedicated networks. Starting with RF – radios and digitization, the P25,
Tetra and Tetrapol technologies have been implemented. These regional
or sometimes country-wide implementations have been built using
SUMMARY OF COMMERCIAL NETWORK AVAILABILITY TESTS
WAN 1 Ireland Ireland Norway Iceland
Number of link fails 172 108 136 39
Uptime percentage 91,62% 96,87% 94,19% 96,47%
Number of link fails 245 132 118 36
Uptime percentage 80,29% 94,96% 95,71% 87,25%
Number of link fails 200 147 114 N.A.
Uptime percentage 93,06% 98,37% 86,97% N.A.
Bundled uptime 99,22% 99,91% 99,50% 99,37%
All links fail 617 387 368 75
taxpayers’ money. Arguing the case for these networks has been along
the lines like “this is the only solution you can trust your life on”. Yet no
solution is 100% reliable, and despite little official communication on
the subject, we know that existing digital PMR networks are far from
being perfect. Given technological advances, it is worth asking whether
a dedicated network is really needed purely for voice services? There are
novel push to talk possibilities, various MVNO approaches and such that
could directly replace the existing networks. When selecting a dedicated
network for public safety use, we should consider the cost vs. benefit.
What about broadband data then? The approximate number of users
on a dedicated network compared to a commercial one is about 0.5%.
Dedicated networks builders argue that this small amount of users isn’t
interesting enough for commercial operators. So is the answer to build a
new, separate network with even higher availability requirements on top of
that? Using simple calculations the cost would be 200 times more! How
much are we really prepared to pay for these services? There is always
a practical limit and I have hard time believing that a dedicated network,
especially a broadband one, would be a suitable single solution anywhere.
I understand the need for something special in case of network
congestion during certain crisis situations or coverage for remote areas
where there is no business case for commercial network connectivity.
But elsewhere the commercial solution is very interesting.
A MULTICHANNEL APPROACH IS NEEDED
Everything previously discussed summarizes that utilizing a hybrid of
dedicated and commercial networks or a combination of commercial
networks raises availability to the accepted level for Public Safety vehicle
use. It is then always a matter of resilience that determines the approach
selected in each region or country. What we have experienced is that
with constant monitoring capabilities and Mobile IP enhanced session
persistence, the multiple network approach combined with automatic
selection of the best available network matches and even exceeds current
needs. The key elements include that any multichannel routing solution
needs to have short switch over times between networks and that the
sessions need to stay up when the IP addressing changes. The solution
must be network agnostic, so that the applications don’t have to know
anything about network changes!
GOODMILL EXAMPLE: SYSTEMS’ BENEFITS
In the Public Safety industry, Goodmill likely has the largest installed base
of managed multichannel routers in the world. The solution has been
used in nationwide implementations for years with an MBTF of more
than 400,000 hours for routers in-use. The remote OTA (over-the air)
management capabilities provide a constant online view of the whole
fleet’s connectivity and provide access to routers whenever needed. All
software features can be updated remotely, quickly and without any
specific routing knowledge. The product family consists of multiple
routers, from standard desktop models to highly rugged versions
with EN50155 vibration tolerance and IP65 environmental protection.
Goodmill’s specialized customer base includes the most highly skilled
and advanced public safety operators in the world. Goodmill continues
to grow, and is dedicated to developing a product range that meets the
highest standards now and in the future.
WHAT IS ECONOMICALLY VIABLE?
I have met many partners and customers who have stated that the
multiple network approach is an expensive solution. This is not only due
to hardware and software pricing, but also thanks to high network data
costs. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail:
First of all one should look at the costs of the whole unit on wheels. No
matter if it’s an ambulance or police car, one can easily calculate the cost
of two persons in the vehicle plus vehicle costs adding up to at least
€100 to €200 per hour. The issue with the broadband connectivity is
efficiency. Can we use this expense more efficiently if we have a reliable
broadband connection in the vehicle? The answer is YES!
Availability is increased by using 2-4 WAN links instead of one. This is
dependent on area and country. According to our calculations, in most
cases merely the availability increase and the associated efficiency it
brings offers a return on investment in less than 6 months. We have seen
that in a period as short as 7 weeks, savings reported have covered the
cost of the system, including all the extra network and equipment costs!
The normal availability increase is about 3-4 percent, but up to 18-19
percent increases over a single network solution have been registered!
In the table we have concluded some data from a police vehicle used
in Scandinavia. The clue is whether the users actually start to do their
work on the move. If the connectivity is not good enough, no matter
how cheap, the applications will not be used! As an example, Goodmill’s
router solution almost always brings availability to a commonly accepted
“office level” and thus enables the full use of the efficiency enhancing
apps! The availability levels must reach a minimum of 99% and in many
cases up to 99.9% is required. This level of availability ensures that
office application usage is not negatively affected. The “office on the
Item Value Unit Explanation
Number of shifts per car / year
Resulting hours cars in use / year Saved
daily working hours
Persons per car
Car is in use almost all the time
Reasons for these savings listed below
Saved personal hours per car in a year
Estimated hourly salary per person
Monthly side costs 33%
Hourly personal costs
1,5 hours saved time per person per shift
Estimated hourly salary
Side cost level in Scandinavia
Saved personal costs / year 97755 EUR
Vehicle investment / hour
Gasolin and other costs / hour
Saved vehicle and gasoline / hour
80 000 EUR, vehicle used for 3 years
150 000 km driven per year
Saved vehicle and gasoline / year 11396 EUR
Cost of multiple SIM cards per car / year
Price of a multi-channel router in one car
Two additional flat rate SIM cards
Average price of installed router with 2-3 WAN links
-including antennas and installation
Annual total savings / vehicle 104931 EUR
Payback time in days 12 days
Goodmill Systems Ltd.
FIN-02600 Espoo • Finland
wheels” gives a huge advantage with hours of effective working time
savings each shift!
These savings are achieved because the reliability of connectivity is so
high that office work can be done in the field. Everything need only be
done once, directly in the database. For instance parking tickets and
other forms can be completed electronically in the vehicle, avoiding paper
to computer admin work. Additionally, identity checks can be made
using online photos and videos, avoiding unnecessary trips to the police
station. Further advantages include improved safety for officers, for
customers and obviously much improved situational awareness all in all!
WHY CHOOSE SEAMLESS MULTICHANNEL
ROUTING: A SUMMARY
It is proven that high data rate and high availability broadband services
give a tremendous advantage to police and public safety operations in
the field. This is a direct response from users that have been equipped
with the technology, some of them for years already. Applications
increasingly demand more bandwidth, including ones currently in use. In
the future, online streaming video will be the killer application.
Additionally, all the intelligence cannot remain in the vehicle computer.
This means that safe, high availability access to central databases is
a must. A managed multichannel routing solution is the future-proof
answer. Huge upfront investments are not needed: one can start easily
with multiple commercial operators. The links can be easily upgraded
to new dedicated networks when they emerge. A wonderful benefit of
Goodmill is that it can use any available network technologies now and
in the future, provided that there are modems available.
From a monetary point of view the approach is rock solid. In a matter
of months or even weeks, the savings made can cover the cost of the
whole system. And most importantly: the solution has proven to save
not only time and money, but also lives!
Author: Juhani Lehtonen, Sales and Marketing Vice President of Goodmill Systems Ltd.
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