Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What are we doing wrong?

We must be the world’s worst communicators! For YEARS, we have been sharing the concept of the need for working together, in particular, in the area of public safety radio.

Many people, much smarter than we, have stressed the need for standards based technology, such as the Project 25 digital communications platform. From the Department of Homeland Security, through FEMA, down to the Regional and State level, the message is loud and clear.

The message is that all public safety agencies must be able to communicate and cooperate with each other using a common technical standard. The federal agencies have even put a condition on federal funding, such as the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) programs, that stipulates an eligibility requirement for P25 standards based communications equipment.

Anyone who reads grant guidance documentation, State Interoperability plans, or even the public media should be aware of the need for standardization, but there are still sales representatives out there who are glibly encouraging public safety users to ignore both federal and state standards in the hope of making a sale for non-standard equipment.

Just today, we were handed a copy of a newsletter developed by the communications committee of a county fire association advising all users to purchase only DMR (MotoTRBO) digital radios. The reason being for compatibility with the equipment specified in a pending AFG grant which has no chance for approval based on current guidance. Those who follow this misguided advice will be purchasing radios that are totally incompatible with both federal and state standards. How do we get through to people like this? We’ve tried everything. We’re going to try again…

We would like to start by directing those who are interested in facts and not fiction by spending a little time on a Webinar. Maybe if they hear it live from such folks as the Director of the Office of Emergency Communications for the Department of Homeland Security, it might finally sink in. Click here to sign up to review the Webinar.

If you prefer your information in printed form, we invite you to visit www.info4u.us/Interoperability_Facts.pdf. As plainly as it can be said, MotoTRBO digital technology is NOT approved for federal funding through the Department of Homeland Security, nor by FEMA, nor by AFG. Any grant application that does not specifically define P25 as the digital operating standard will be rejected. This is not my opinion. It is PUBLISHED policy.

As far as the "presentations" by those promoting MotoTRBO as a public safety "standard" is concerned, I invite you to review our comments at
http://falconinfo.blogspot.com/2009/05/mototrbo-for-public-safety.html where you will clearly see that Motorola has never stated that this product is to be used in mission critical situations.

The most popular products specifically designed by Motorola for mission critical applications are the XTS2500 and XTS5000 series radios, both of which use P25 technology. Unfortunately, these products have been delisted for fire service use (See
for additional information.

What concerns us the most is when a newsletter is distributed that is clearly misleading when the author encourages public safety communications users to
order only radios with digital capability and it is then stated that such radios should be MotoTRBO capable.

This is encouraging users to purchase radios that do not qualify for federal grant funding, are not designed for mission critical use, and are not compatible with the national public safety interoperable standard.

The fact is that any radio purchased by public safety users should have either (a) the ability to be upgraded to P25 or (b) incorporate full P25 analog/digital capability initially. The fact is that such radios can be purchased for LESS than the budgetary estimates contained in the aforementioned newsletter recommendation.

As to the issue of establishing a system based on a proprietary standard rather than considering open architecture is a subject for a separate discussion. As relating to the feasibility of a FEMA grant application for MotoTRBO being approved, I leave that decision to those who review the applications following published guidance.

If you are a public safety user, PLEASE get all the facts from multiple vendors and then make an INFORMED decision based on FACT, rather than sales hype. You’ll be glad you did. If you wish, you can start with US!

If you would like more information on P25, please check out our free on-line planner at www.info4u.us/P25Guide.pdf.