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The ultimate public safety broadband solution is a blue ocean one


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For too long, public safety operations have been in need of good broadband solutions for use in critical situations. This situation has arisen because narrow band digital solutions can no longer provide the bandwidth required by modern operations and applications, despite continuing investment. The obvious and old fashioned solution to enable broadband would be to build dedicated broadband networks for public safety. Many still think this is the solution for the modernization of these services. There have been demands for huge public funding as well as dedicated frequencies. This is the old business model.

In this white paper I will point out another solution. The world has changed a lot since the first digital PMR networks were built. A new business model and a technological solution that saves money in investment, operations and will perform better. A ‘Blue Ocean’ alternative that is likely to be the one implemented everywhere.

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The ultimate public safety broadband solution is a blue ocean one

  1. 1. The Ultimate Public Safety Broadband Solution Is a Blue Ocean one Goodmill White Paper WHITE PAPER
  2. 2. 2 / 8 The Ultimate Public Safety Broadband Solution Is a Blue Ocean one For too long, public safety operations have been in need of good broadband solutions for use in critical situations. This situation has arisen because narrow band digital solutions can no longer provide the band- width required by modern operations and applications, despite continuing investment. The obvious and old fashioned solution to enable broadband would be to build dedicated broadband networks for public safety. Many still think this is the solution for the moderniza- tion of these services. There have been demands for huge public funding as well as dedicated frequencies. This is the old business model. In this white paper I will point out another solution. The world has changed a lot since the first digital PMR net- works were built. A new business model and a techno- logical solution that saves money in investment, opera- tions and will perform better. A ‘Blue Ocean’ alternative that is likely to be the one implemented everywhere. A SHORT HISTORY OF DIGITAL PUBLIC SAFETY COMMUNICATIONS In the past there have been huge investments into pub- lic safety networks around the world. Investments into digital voice solutions with country-wide coverage are still ongoing in many countries, with Germany and Nor- way being the latest and widest implementations. Big in- frastructure providers have been earning good revenue with these national roll-outs. Now, as the old technology cannot provide the data rates required, many of the tra- ditional players are planning on selling new broadband networks the same way in the future. There is however, a new ‘Blue Ocean’ concept that changes the whole business model for public safety broadband. This is good news for taxpayers, but poses a significant risk for the previous rulers of the market- place. Before I get to that, let’s summarize what ‘Blue Ocean’ in this case stands for. INTRODUCTION TO BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY (BOS) This term was invented by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in their book “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competi- tion Irrelevant”. The idea is that you don’t only develop and enhance your offering to win markets, but you can redefine it by introducing aspects of elimination and reduction. With the new model, we can reduce or even eliminate investments into new networks and simultaneously im- prove data security, reliability, coverage and resilience. And all this at a fraction of the cost of the old business model. WITH THE NEW MODEL, WE CAN REDUCE OR EVEN ELIMINATE INVESTMENTS INTO NEW NETWORKS AND SIMULTANEOUSLY IMPROVE DATA SECURITY, RELIABILITY, COVERAGE AND RESILIENCE IN THE PAST THERE HAVE BEEN HUGE INVESTMENTS INTO PUBLIC SAFETY NETWORKS AROUND THE WORLD
  3. 3. 3 / 8 The Ultimate Public Safety Broadband Solution Is a Blue Ocean one THE DILEMMA OF OVER- SERVING THE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMUNICATION MARKET Whenever talking about public safety, the argumenta- tion for selling solutions has been around the impor- tance of the service itself. I’ve heard arguments like “TETRA is the only technology you can trust on your life” or “dedicated and government controlled networks are the only solutions that fulfill the availability and re- silience needs of public safety”. As we know that Tetra is far better suited for critical communications than a single commercial network, these statements are still not true. The digital PMR, when introduced, was the only suitable solution. It has given over the years us great benefits, is very useful today and will continue to add value in the future. However, we also know of numerous situations where TETRA, Tetrapol or P25 networks have been down or unusable due to congestion problems. These, like any single network solutions, are still vul- nerable to storms and other natural catastrophes. The dedicated PMR networks too often get overcrowded when needed most. Simultaneously, when there’s noth- ing important going on, the networks are using even as little as 2-5% of their capacity. This means that there A NEW VALUE CURVE CREATE! Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered? ELIMINATE! Which of the factors that the industry take for granted should be eliminated RAISE! Which factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard REDUCE! Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY: A MODEL TO FIND NEW VALUE When we look at the model closer in regards to public safety, this is how it fits in. WHAT TO ELIMINATE? • Big infrastructure investment • Dedicated frequencies • Proprietary technology WHAT TO REDUCE? • Dedicated network • Network upgrade investment WHAT TO RAISE? • Local availability support • Dynamic user prioritization WHAT TO CREATE? • A multiple network approach • Ad-hoc network capability or satellite support • IP based applications for public safety users is a huge investment standing unused most the time, yet failing unfortunately often when needed the most. If this is what the current situation is, do we really need dedicated networks business model in the future? Are there solutions that can outperform the availability and resilience of a single network investment? I think these are questions worth asking. ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO PUBLIC SAFETY COMMUNICATION The new strategic alternative comes from eliminating the need for new networks. We already see solutions for fixed landline based internet where dedicated secure networks are built inside a commercially available one. VPN tunneling or MPLS technologies are commonly used in the PS sector today. The solution is to combine commercial networks, as many as one wishes, and use secure tunnels inside them. This way, the existing in- frastructure of all mobile operators can be used, taking advantage of the resilience, availability and operational security they can serve together. This is very important to understand: the existing, separate networks are able
  4. 4. 4 / 8 The Ultimate Public Safety Broadband Solution Is a Blue Ocean one to offer these benefits when used in unison. The same reason we have two ears and eyes. It is possible using these separate networks to have secure tunneling run- ning simultaneously across them all. This means that the costs of the solution are magnitudes lower than building an entirely new network anywhere with any significant coverage. THE IMPORTANCE OF AVAILABILITY Since we are talking also about saving lives, it is import- ant to note that the availability of the online information is of the utmost importance. If one tries to fetch infor- mation from criminal records, the latest blueprints of a building in case of fire, or send cardio 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 we talk about criticality, the command and control application become a focal point. With an efficient C&C application one can share information about other units’ locations, target drawings and other various case specif- ic information. The more instantaneous the data is, the better security it provides for the 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. I wish to underline that 99.9% of the usage is outside of a big catastrophe. This is normal day to day work for public safety personnel. When this work can be made more efficient, the savings are immense. ONE BROADBAND NETWORK DOESN’T DO THE JOB: CASE: COMMERCIAL NETWORKS The most common mistake public safety has made is to rely solely on one commercial broadband network. It almost seems like all concentration with development is on the applications. Too often, connectivity issues are handled without due consideration “…oh and we’ll use the broadband of the number one commercial operator, with a dongle or similar.” The fact is no single network, especially a commercial one, is ever enough. The networks are built and de- signed in a way that do not enable 100% availability regardless of coverage. Commercial networks have occasional service breakdowns, on larger and smaller scales. These networks also have IP addressing scheme changes that cause links to break down. This requires new connection set-ups that always take time. Typical availability, under the coverage area, over any larger single network when in full operation is about 96-98%. ONE BROADBAND NETWORK DOESN’T DO THE JOB CASE: DEDICATED NETWORKS The most obvious and most employed solution to the broadband question in the market is to repeat the pre- vious implementations in a new environment. The com- munication of public safety has previously been done by dedicated networks. It all started with RF – radios. With digitization, the P25, Tetra and Tetrapol technologies were implemented. These regional or even countrywide implementations have been paid for using taxpayers’ money and the arguments in support of these networks have revolved around availability during crisis situa- tions. Well, 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. A good question today is if a dedicated network is even needed for voice services? There are novel push to talk possibilities and various MVNO approaches that could even replace the existing networks. If we select a dedi- cated network for public safety use, we should consider the cost vs. benefit. If the network has already been built, it certainly makes sense to use it, but building a new one is another question. MORE THAN 99,9%OF THE USAGE IS OUTSIDE OF A BIG CATASTROPHE
  5. 5. 5 / 8 The Ultimate Public Safety Broadband Solution Is a Blue Ocean one The approximate amount of users on a dedicated net- work compared to a commercial one is about 0.5%. Dedicated networks builders argue that this small num- ber of users isn’t interesting enough for commercial operators. Is the answer to build another network with even higher availability requirements? With a simple calculation, the cost would be 200-fold per user. How much are the public really prepared to pay for these ser- vices? There is always a limit to everything and I have a hard time believing that a dedicated network, especially a Broadband one, would be accepted anywhere as the only possible solution. I understand the need for coverage in remote areas where there is no business case for the connectivity of commercial networks. This can however, also be cov- ered by satellite. ONE BROADBAND NETWORK DOESN’T DO THE JOB: CASE: COMBINED NETWORKS This last alternative is somewhat like what FirstNet is doing in the US, the Emergency Services Network (ESN) in UK, and Red Compartida in Mexico. There are more, but these are maybe the most important ones right now. The idea is to combine the existing infrastructures of commercial operators and to build more infrastructure and robustness into the solution. The major thinking be- hind these approaches are dedicated frequencies. The problem here is that dedicated frequencies offer neither high availability nor resilience. For that you need robust infrastructure. This solution would also still rely on a single network at a time, with all the associated problems. Why try to cre- ate robustness where it already is available? The best solution is at hand with a multiple network approach. Fi- nally: implementing some resilience, like battery backup for base stations, can occasionally be a good idea. New infrastructure where no networks are available can be justifiable, but there is no need to build anything extra when it is not really needed. The worst scenario with these old-school approaches is that lots of money will be spent and the customers will not be happy. Often in these cases, after the false investment has been made, the critics are silenced. Fi- nally, and sadly, users are not given any alternative for a better solution, which is a multiple network approach. A MULTI-CHANNEL, MULTI-NETWORK APPROACH IS NEEDED One benefit of using multiple networks comes through security in case of interference. If someone tries to jeop- ardize the functionality, or manages to block the traffic of one network, the possibility to use several connec- tions solves the problem. One can always use rapid de- ployment connectivity via extra LTE or 5G networks, use WiFi, or satellite alternative. The best about the solution Goodmill offers is that these alternative networks can be used automatically; the system selects the best or the most viable connection, depending on how the switch over protocol is determined. Everything previously discussed summarizes that utiliz- ing a combination of networks brings availability to the accepted level for Public Safety mobile use. It is always a matter of resilience that dictates what the approach selected in each region or country will be: how many networks and what type of network enhancements are required. In our experience, with constant monitoring capabilities and Mobile IP enhanced session persisten- cy, a multiple network approach that auto selects the best network, exceeds the current needs of public safe- ty. There are, however, few important criteria that must be met. First, the multichannel routing solution needs to have a short switchover time between networks. Sec- ond, sessions need to stay up when the IP addressing changes. Thus, the solution needs to be network agnos- tic, so that the applications don’t have to know anything about the occurring changes. The multiple network solution has proven extremely reliable and cost-effective all over the world. Good- mill has one of the largest installed base of managed multichannel routers in public safety in the world. The solution has been proven in nationwide implementa- tions for years. Of course, the products need to meet the highest standards. Goodmill products have MBTF of more than 400,000 hours for the routers in use. Our clients can constantly monitor the connectivity situation. The remote management (over-the air) OTA capabilities provide a constant online view of fleet connectivity and provides access to routers whenever needed. This is the connectivity platform that meets the hardest require- ments.
  6. 6. 6 / 8 The Ultimate Public Safety Broadband Solution Is a Blue Ocean one NETWORK SLICING SOLUTION AGAINST CONGESTION With the move to broadband IP we’ve opened a vast sea of services, from detailed location information to HD video and real-time database access, not to mention voice via VoLTE. Public safety organizations are already using these services delivered to them upon shared networks, but their lack of reliability is an unavoidable consequence of Best Effort. This would remain the same even on a private, dedicated network, because even if it is serving a smaller number of users, this essential char- acteristic flaw doesn’t disappear. All of this begs the question, not of how public safety organizations are going to afford to build their own pri- vate networks, but rather how we may offer the services they already use on shared commercial networks more reliably. The great news is, we already know the answer. Native to 4G LTE and soon to be the dominant feature of 5G is network slicing, which amounts to a silver bullet for public safety and much, much more. Even though the world’s public safety users number only some 70 million, their equipment needs to work well all the time, period. The ability to provide dedicated, SLA-assured slices on existing mobile networks not only removes the pervading conundrum over shared vs. private, but opens a huge number of opportunities for critical com- munications organizations and the carriers that support them. However, this coming change will need to be managed. Public safety agents will be required to move with the times and onboard new technologies that will radically extend their capabilities. While the current cohort of agents, habituated to using group calls to get informa- tion, will need to be re-trained, the next generation of operatives will ask which AI system their dispatchers are using. Real-time data delivery is already a component in game-based training where teams solve problems in the field with the help of instant, AI-delivered data. WHAT IS ECONOMICALLY VIABLE? I have met many partners and customers who have stated that multiple network approach is an expensive solution, not only due to hardware and software pricing, but also due to high network data costs. Let’s look at this with 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 estimate the costs of two persons in the vehicle and of the vehicle itself jointly adding up to €100 to €200 per hour easily. The issue with the broadband connectivity is efficiency. Can we use this expense more efficiently if we have a reliable broadband in the vehi- cle? Well, for sure we can! The availability increase by using 2-4 WAN links instead of one is very dependent on area and country. Howev- er, in almost all cases, just the increase in availability and the efficiency it brings pays for the system, per our calculations, in less than 6 months. In one case, the savings reported equalled the cost of the system within seven weeks, including all the extra network and equip- ment costs. The typical availability increase is from 96% to 99.9% but we’ve also registered increases from 80% to 99.5% compared to single network solutions. REAL-TIME DATA DELIVERY IS ALREADY A COMPONENT IN GAME-BASED TRAINING WHERE TEAMS SOLVE PROBLEMS IN THE FIELD WITH THE HELP OF INSTANT, AI-DELIVERED DATA
  7. 7. 7 / 8 The Ultimate Public Safety Broadband Solution Is a Blue Ocean one It the table below we have collated some data from a police vehicle used in Scandinavia. One key indicator is whether or not the users start to do their work on the run. If the connectivity is not good enough, no matter how cheap, the applications will not be used. As an ex- ample, Goodmill’s router solution almost always brings availability up to a commonly accepted “office level”, thus enabling the full use of efficiency enhancing apps. The availability levels required need to be more than 99% and in many cases, up to 99,9% is required. This means that one does not need vehicle specific applica- tions. Having this level of availability ensures no drop off in office application usage. When you have an “office on wheels”, that allows all office tasks to be completed within the car, a huge advantage is gained. Effective working time each shift is increased by hours. These savings are achieved because the reliability of connectivity is so high that office work can be done in the field. Everything is done only once, writing directly to the database. For instance parking tickets and other forms can be electronically completed in the car, elimi- nating historical paper-to-computer tasks. Additionally, identity checks can be made using online photos and videos, meaning unnecessary trips to the precinct/sta- tion can be avoided. Additional advantages include im- proved safety for officers, citizens and much improved situational awareness. Item Value Unit Explanation Number of shifts per car / year Resulting hours cars in use / year Saved daily working hours Persons per car 700 8 400 1,5 2 No. hours hours persons 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 2 100 35,00 11,55 46,55 hours EUR EUR EUR 1,5 hours saved time per person per shift Estimated hourly salary Side cost level Scandinavia Saved personal costs / year 97 755 EUR Vehicle investment / hour Gasolin and other costs / hour Saved vehicle and gasoline / hour 3,17 7,68 1,36 EUR EUR EUR 80 000 EUR, vehicle used for 3 years 150 000 km driven per year Saved vehicle and gasoline / year 11 396 EUR Cost of multiple SIM cards per car / year Price of a multi-channel router in one car 720 3 500 EUR EUR Two additional flat rate SIM cards Average price of installed router with 2–3 WAN links -including antennas and installation Annual total savings / vehicle 104 931 EUR Payback time in days 12 days TABLE 1. POLICE PAYBACK CALCULATIONS WITH GOODMILL ONE DOES NOT NEED VEHICLE SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS
  8. 8. The Ultimate Public Safety Broadband Solution Is a Blue Ocean one SUMMARY It is thus proven that high data rate and high availability broadband services give a tremendous advantage to all public safety operators in the field. This is a direct response from users that have used the technology for years already. Applications demand more bandwidth all the time. In the future, online streaming video will be the killer application. Additionally, all the intelligence cannot remain confined to a vehicle’s computer. This means that safe and high availability access to central databases is a must. A managed multichannel routing solution is the future proof answer to these needs that requires no huge upfront investments. One can start easily with multiple commercial operators. The links can also be easily up- graded to new dedicated networks when they emerge. A wonderful benefit of Goodmill systems is that they can use any available network technologies both now and in the future. Network congestion problems are solved by dynamic prioritization. This can be and needs to be done in both dedicated and commercial networks. An important note to remember is that dedicated frequencies themselves don’t provide for high availability and non-congestion. Goodmill Systems Ltd. Tarvonsalmenkatu 17 FI-02600 Espoo Finland From a monetary point of view the multi-network ap- proach is rock solid. The system pays for itself in a few months and in some cases, weeks. Routers that can take full advantage of multiple net- works are the crucial element in creating this Blue Ocean for public safety operations. The incumbents that have so far sold the digital PMR networks are naturally interested in continuing their old business model. But with novel alternatives it’s possible to minimize network investments, and the main business will switch to other players. This has already happened in Scandinavia and will likely be repeated in other parts of the world. I hope for the taxpayers’ sake that the modern approaches get the foothold they deserve. AUTHOR: Juhani Lehtonen Vice President, Sales and Marketing Goodmill Systems Ltd.