SyTech Corporation and communication interoperability, I

mutual aid situations in which one agency is called to assist another agency. Examples include a vehicle pursuit that enters another jurisdiction and responses when an agency crosses a jurisdictional boundary because it has vehicles closer to the location of a crime in progress (such as a county sheriff’s deputy responding to a robbery at a bank near a city or county line). Multi-agency task force operations also require communications interoperability. Examples include counter narcotics and organized crime task forces, presidential/VIP escort and protection, and other activities. Task force operations are planned activities in which agencies and personnel are routinely assigned to work together for a specific operation or non-emergency response.

When agencies from different or multiple jurisdictions need to mount a coordinated response, however, they may not be able to communicate with each other via their radios because their radio equipment is incompatible. Public safety radio systems operate in different frequency bands (like the AM and FM bands of a radio). Just as an AM radio cannot pick up an FM radio station, public safety radios in one frequency band cannot pick up transmissions in another frequency band. As a consequence, when responding to a major incident, agencies must cope with other, inefficient, means of communications (such as relaying messages through multiple dispatchers, or using runners to hand-carry messages). The development of more sophisticated radio systems such as digital trunking systems can compound this problem if agencies are using different systems. Digitally trunked radio systems are designed and manufactured so that, even if two such radio systems are both operating in same frequency band, broadcasts from one manufacturer’s radio cannot be heard by another manufacturer’s radio, or vice versa.

Interoperability solution overview / Source: SyTech

Approaches to interoperability
There are several strategies that agencies and organizations can adopt to facilitate interoperability. Here we point to three basic strategies:

1) Create one radio system — the same radio system — which provides communications for multiple agencies and organizations (there are three ways to go here: swap radios; shared system; or commercial services)

2) Use different systems but establish a common frequency and, if necessary, protocol so that transmissions from a subscriber on one radio system can be received by subscribers on a different radio system (there are two ways to go here: common frequencies, or multimode radios)

3) Deploy a system-to-system gateway device that establishes an interface between radio systems by receiving a transmission