Nov 25, 2012

Improve Tetra by Separating Data

Tetra is well implemented in many of the countries with well-developed systems for public safety mobile communication. Tetra is, however, designed for voice and in fact increased data usage jeopardizes the main functionality: excellent digital voice services. A way to improve Tetra functionality is to direct the data traffic away from Tetra networks. The utilization of existing commercial data networks is the modern killer application. With this approach,  as an additional benefit, one is able to build new advanced services that require high availability broadband capacities.
I just had a conversation with a chief security officer about a big accident scene at a highway in Finland. They had large amount of units at the scene and practically the whole Tetra network was blocked due to high number of both voice and data connections. They needed, eventually, to use their commercial phones to call the local 112 to order ambulances to the scene. Tetra was blocked. One of the main reasons that blocked the Tetra, was the data capabilities in every vehicle using Tetra.
It is actually ridiculous to use data in Tetra. The capacities are limited to theoretical 10 kbit/s as even the worst commercial networks can give over 200 kbit/s when in GPRS mode. Nowadays practically all countries with Tetra have broadband networks that give even over 5Mbit/s capacities easily.
The demands of new applications have its consequences in declining the Tetra functionality. Current solution that needs to be implemented is a hybrid of Tetra and commercial networks. In the evolution the dedicated public safety broadband may or may not come. But this development should not be waited for, since we can start to improve the Tetra availability and to introduce new broadband services already today.

The solution needs to include multichannel usage of existing networks, very fast and flexible switch over from network to another, session persistent solutions and state of the art encryption. Most of all the actual users should not need to be bothered by the connectivity issues at all. That’s why all modifications or tuning of the connectivity needs to be done from a centralized and secured location remotely.
Goodmill Systems is the only router manufacturer that has implemented country wide solution for PSS broadband vehicle data. It can be and is done. It’s, like always in our business, about saving lives. Let’s start today. For more in this, please visit Goodmill Systems at PMR Expo 2012 in Cologne 27-29 of November. Goodmill Systems Ltd.  Hall 10.2 Booth E04.

Sep 13, 2012

Broadband Data Connectivity for Mission Critical PSS users

The demand for savings and efficiency increase are a constant struggle in public safety. Still no one is willing to jeopardize the functionality and the service level of the operations. The risks of modern world, including terrorist attacks or nature catastrophes, are in fact increasing. This leaves the actors to think about the capabilities of modern technology. Better communication has improved efficiency in other fields, why shouldn’t it accomplish similar effects in public safety.

The mobile connectivity has changed the lives of everyone. With the boom of handheld smartphones every user understands the benefits and capabilities of the wireless internet. Simultaneously most of the public safety operators lack behind in TETRA –type or even older analog technologies. It is difficult to understand why an expensive public safety vehicle shouldn’t have the same or better capabilities than most of the teenagers have in their pockets.

Efficient modern public safety organizations demand access to databases like patient records, criminal registers, stolen car registers and even building drawings. This all could be realized by saving the all necessary data inside the vehicle computers, as done often, but this approach creates problems with updating the files. A key imperative is that this data is always up to date, since otherwise our security and health is endangered.

Services are the key

The idea of the broadband availability in vehicles is quite simple. How could we improve the operations if all necessary data was available there where it is first needed?  Services that are needed in the vehicles include
  • biometric checks
  • database queries
  • image and file transfer
  • location based services
  • and ultimately streaming video
Information sharing between jurisdictions will be important when making PSS operations more effective. This means collecting and forwarding data between the officers various jurisdiction data bases. If we are happy with current voice based queries and in best cases SMS-type data services, all these applications are impossible. It is obvious that broadband capability that fits the public safety requirements is the imperative for efficiency improvement. This creates the next dilemma. What is needed from the PSS broadband solution technically and how can we afford it?

No need for dedicated broadband networks

Current PRM systems cannot offer required data capacity for above mentioned broadband applications. Simultaneously no single existing commercial broadband network can offer needed coverage, availability and reliability. The cost of building a suitable dedicated PSS broadband network is through the roof and thus out of question.

The only way to tackle this techno-economical problem is multi-channel routing technology. The multi-channel router technology offers means to utilize existing parallel commercial and private networks. Multi-channel routers need to be populated with several parallel wireless terminals supporting a wide variety of different radio technologies or operators’ networks. Routing of mission critical traffic need be performed always using the best network available.

A solution is needed, not just boxes

The target of the public safety vehicle is to use it efficiently. Since routing elements are outside office premises the solution requires means to maintain and control the terminals and routers. For this reason a remote device management, which allows easy and accurate management of installed devices, is required. Through this remote management system administrator can monitor and control the utilization of different networks and even further optimize the usage of available capacities based on the collected usage information. This all saves money and brings the Total Cost of Ownership to an acceptable level. It is also a safety issue. When actually no configuration is possible inside the vehicle, the control of the connectivity remains always centralized.

Future proof solution

Adaptation to new emerging LTE technology will also be much easier and smoother if broadband connectivity is introduced to the field users using already broadband data. The new services that demand extremely high bandwidths can be easily introduced on top of the exiting platforms. The multichannel approach enables the usage of LTE where it is implemented and the next best alternative elsewhere. As the LTE networks grow, the coverage for these services will gradually improve.

The good news is that this is all available today. Advanced public safety operators use this type of system efficiently today. There is no reason why a similar system should not benefit all the officers in the 3,3 Million public safety vehicles in the world!

Aug 2, 2012

Don’t Wait for LTE to Start with Broadband in Police Vehicles!

The recent discussion in Public Safety new services has evolved around the new possibilities that LTE networks will provide. Simultaneously we are seeing some setbacks due to technical challenges, legislative issues and pure lack of money in the deployment of Public Safety LTE around the world. Still in many places even a narrowband data connection to the vehicle is just a dream. Even the more advanced countries are using the extremely limited data capacities of TETRA where even simple services like just sending an email with a larger attachment are not possible.

The whole discussion has been evolving too much around the technology. It is wonderful to think about live video from anywhere in the field to be sent to all participating units, but before that there is a lot we can do with today’s technology. And this can be done much cheaper than by implementing commercially supported LTE’s or dedicated Public Safety LTE networks. The overruling principle of taking broadband effectively in use in vehicle solutions are the services one can deliver to the vehicle. Let’s just forget the LTE for a while and think about the services we could start to use today.

First, a broadband connection can better be used for real time delivery of location information. TETRA based systems, due to their capacity limitations, often limit the viewed situational awareness area to just a few kilometers. With broadband one can see easily over 50 km radius of the other units’ status and can easily call the best possible support for a task when needed.

Second solution, that needs always online capability, is the license plate recognition system. If the database of stolen cars is updated only once a day, the vehicles are outside of the country before they can be caught. As an example, the Honda of the Director of Finnish Customs was stolen some time ago. Thanks to his direct international connections, the vehicle was located the same day in Estonia. With online recognition software there would have been a possibility to spot the vehicle within Finnish borders.

Third, all the documentation and databases that currently are only available in the precinct of office location can be brought to vehicle. With session persistent connection and encrypted tunneling over any used networks, the officers can avoid the boring paper work and actually gather all relevant information from criminal records and similar databases in the vehicle. Similarly the documentation needed can be printed on the spot and given to the customers. This helps to avoid unnecessary visits to office sites not only for the officers, but also for the customers.

Finally, modern PDA equipment can be used outside the vehicle and data like bar code from driver’s license can be read immediately. With this data the records of the individuals in question can be gathered and the status of the customer can be checked.

All of these services do not require LTE networks. The most economical solution is to use simultaneously several commercially available networks. This can be done, and is done, today by using multichannel routing systems like Goodmill Systems’ w24e. The savings of the system in working hours have been estimated to be even two hours per shift. This result in payback times of less than two months for the needed router equipment.

Juhani Lehtonen

May 21, 2012

The Future of Train to Land Communication

The rolling stock has not been seen as one of the most dynamic and quick adopters of new technology. The security issues, the need for durability over long time periods and the lack of useful applications has limited the introduction of modern data communications. This has meant that usually for operational need the single GPRS modems have been a solution that’s good enough. Simultaneously the demands for customer WiFi and other infotainment have demanded more comprehensive and modern solutions that enable broadband. The customer WiFi solutions, however, often lack the security needed for operational safety.

Now there are available solutions that, either in separate or same system, can provide both secure broadband data for operational and service use as well as infotainment type customer solutions.

The cutting-edge mobile multi-channel routers provide a reliable and cost-efficient broadband connection for all rolling stock installations. This makes the vehicle operation a lot easier and safer. Furthermore, fast and reliable wireless connections enable passengers to use the Internet for work, studying or fun without any frustrating interruptions.

Goodmill w24e-R -router selects the best possible combination from existing networks and uses them reliably and efficiently. This router switches between networks seamlessly – guaranteeing uninterrupted connectivity throughout the journey. This ensures reliable, secure, and cost-efficient locomotive maintenance systems, signaling, WiFi coverage for onboard wireless systems, broadband connectivity, and Internet.

The reliable broadband connectivity of Goodmill router makes vehicle operation a lot easier and safer. Fast and reliable wireless connections also enable passengers to use the internet for work, studying or fun without any frustrating interruptions. Goodmill w24e-R has numerous possible uses:
  • Keep passenger information up to date with Online Passenger Information Systems
  • Increase efficiency with Train Diagnostics and Locomotive Maintenance
  • Ensure better asset usage and lower costs with efficient fleet management
  • Increase customer satisfaction with online ticketing and payments
  • Enable passengers to use reliable internet for work, studying or fun
  • Promote your own services and special offers to passengers using an on-board Web portal.
  • And ultimately, ensure safer and more comfortable journey with Live-View Video Surveillance
Goodmill Systems Ltd. introduces this revolutionary router solution that enables outstanding broadband connectivity at an affordable price. The extensive technological experience together with thorough knowledge of rolling stock organizations’ needs has enabled us to create this ground-breaking technology that will revolutionize connection reliability.

Juhani Lehtonen

Jan 2, 2012

Using LTE in Critical Vehicle Data Application: Live Testing

The future of critical data connectivity has been said to be LTE. The Long Term Evolution networks should be the answer to public safety or any vehicle data application where large data streams are needed. The possibilities for on-line video surveillance and larger picture file transmissions for on-line usage have been just waiting that LTE will develop out of its infancy. We at Goodmill Systems have always been questioning the idea that just one network and one technology would be enough for critical applications. Our recent tests show that even with the usage of LTE there is a great need for multi channel approach in moving vehicles.

The set/up for the testing was to use one LTE operator as the primary link to the selected gateway and another, alternative 3G network, as a second WAN link. The initial target for the pilot was to see the general availability of the networks in moving vehicles as well as to get first implications in the capacities achieved through the selected networks.

Achieved data capacities were from 2-10Mbit/s upstream and 3-10 Mbit/s downstream in the LTE network with average streams at 4Mbit/s down and 6Mbit/s up. Availability for both networks in general was high in comparison to previous experience from Goodmill in similar applications in moving vehicles. LTE availability was surprisingly high considering the early phase of the network implementation.

The short testing period supports the fact that despite the great availability of 3G and LTE, the moving vehicles propose a challenge to the operation that can only be overcome by using multiple networks with very fast switch over smartly. It is feasible to think that multi channel solution with two or three selected WAN links will provide enough secure availability and bandwidth for the needed high end surveillance application. For more detailed documentation of the study, please don’t hesitate to contact us.