Thursday, 17 January 2008

Technology to Watch

We recommend that court technology planners monitor the progress and implications of the upcoming auction of radio frequency spectrum and the creation of a shared public safety wireless broadband network by the Public Safety Spectrum Trust.

On November 15, 2007 the US Federal Communications Commission selected the non-profit Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corporation (PSST) to hold the license for 10 MHz of public safety radio spectrum designated for nationwide wireless broadband use.  The concept for the broadband network “is to have priority access for public safety to a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband network that incorporates the latest technologies in use by the private sector”.  As noted in an article in Police Chief Magazine by PSST Chairman, Chief Harlin McEwen these benefits potentially include:
  • “Broadband data services (such as text messaging, photos, diagrams, and streaming video) currently unavailable in existing public safety land mobile systems”
  • “A hardened public safety network with infrastructure built to withstand local natural hazards (tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc.) that would include strengthened towers and backup power with fuel supplies to withstand long-term outages of public power sources”
  • “Nationwide roaming and interoperability for local, state, and federal public safety agencies (police, fire, and emergency medical services) and other emergency services such as transportation, health care, and utilities”
  • “Access to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) similar to current commercial cellular services”
  • “Push-to-talk, one-to-one, and one-to-many radio capabilities that would provide a backup to (but would not replace) traditional public safety land mobile mission-critical voice systems”
  • “Access to satellite services to provide reliable nationwide communications where terrestrial services either do not exist or are temporarily out of service”
For more information see the Public Safety Spectrum Trust website.

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