Decades of Response
Emergency Comms talks to Jamie Bishop, Marketing Manager for the Europe Middle East and African region
at Tait Communications
|Jamie Bishop, Marketing Manager,
Europe Middle East
and African region, Tait Communications
Jamie has been marketing manager for EMEA since 2009, prior to which he held positions as European marketing manager and strategic marketing roles at Tait.
Jamie has been closely involved in the supply of critical communications solutions across EMEA encompassing APCO P25, DMR, MPT1327 as well as analogue radio combined with third party products such as location awareness software and dispatch applications since joining Tait in 2005. In turn this experience has been fed back into the development of current and future Tait Solutions.
Jamie attended University in De Montfort University Leicester, studying Strategic marketing with a focus on customer behavior and product management.
Q: Tait has enjoyed a world-class reputation spanning over four decades for serving the unique radio needs of LEO and First Responders. Give me a brief overview of that history and what makes Tait a stand-out industry leader in Public Safety solutions?
A: The daily duties and workload of a police officer is already stressful enough without also having to worry about whether their radios will work when they need them. Tait has four decades of experience in designing and delivering critical communications solutions in the challenging environments that police face. The Tait difference is the choice we offer – P25 conventional and trunked, DMR Tier 2 and Tier 3 – and the time we invest in listening to our clients needs. We take the time to understand their challenges in order to deliver the best solution for their needs. Tait engineers design, deploy and support our communications solutions, and we work with the best technology partners to provide third-party applications that work seamlessly with Tait solutions.
|Photo: © Tait Communications.
Q: In fact, you are one of the world’s leading manufacturers of digital radios and related components, tell me a little more about that, where are we with P25 Phase 1 and 2, and why are P25 and DMR so relevant to the Emergency Communications Arena?
A: Tait Communications is known for producing radios that are tough, easy-to-use and deliver excellent audio quality and performance. Our radios have core safety features, including programmable emergency settings, such as Lone Worker, Man Down, covert/overt alarms and false power down
With built-in GPS, Tait portable radios are used for managing fleets of vehicles and tracking personnel. Tait mobiles have a GPS display that can show latitude and longitude coordinates, which is ideal for locating incidents in remote areas and off-road
Even in the loudest environments our digital radios transmit crystal-clear audio by minimizing background noises. Our radios are also designed with MDC1200 capability; industry alarm features and IS options for user safety.
Q: The man who founded your company, Sir Angus Tait, was world renowned for his commitment to engineering excellence, and recognized many times over for his major contributions to radio communications. Tell me what that legacy means to you and everything the company does today in providing emergency communications solutions?
A: As our founder did, we still believe we can truly make the world a safer, better place, sharing these fundamental beliefs with public safety and utilities organizations. Across the world, in more than 150 countries, we work with them to protect and serve their communities. We challenge ourselves to innovate in everything we do and how we do everything. It is the spark that is driven our evolution from being a best-of-breed technology vendor to cementing our reputation as a world-class strategic partner that delivers business-critical results.
Everything we do is based on open standards because we believe the solutions we create with our clients need to be easy to integrate with other organizations’ systems, applications and equipment. Our commitment to open standards means we can deliver highly-customized solutions to our clients by complementing our own products and services with applications and systems from our family of partners.
|Photo: © Tait Communications.
Q: As you see it, what are some of the greatest challenges facing the end users in Emergency Response situations? Interoperability? Bandwidth? Legacy Integration? And how is Tait responding to such challenges?
A: There are four as I see it, coverage, interoperability, security and redundancy.
COVERAGE: Put yourself in the shoes of a police officer or utility worker in a hazardous situation or remote area and reliable coverage becomes much more than a nice-to-have, it is an absolute necessity. It is critical to be able to function properly and safety. This means not only voice, but also data. It is already common for packets of data to be sent via radio networks. For example, sending the location coordinates of a Public Safety officer can be critical to their personal safety as well as to the command structure. Sending a status request and then monitoring a radio user’s response can be equally critical. Similarly, gathering data elements from utilities field staff, such as their location, task-ID and time, can provide key input to workforce management systems.
We design and deliver communications systems that deliver optimum coverage to on-hip portables, ensuring that officers can communicate in critical situations that develop away from the patrol vehicle
|Photo: © Tait Communications.
INTEROPERABILITY: Information must be able to move seamlessly from one network to another, especially where public safety is concerned. Integrated communications platforms are essential to support coordinated, multi-organizational responses. Last century, proprietary standards were common, due to rapidly evolving technologies developed by companies using their own standards. These proprietary standards could be used to lock customers in to a single vendor for a long time, ensuring the vendor could maximize revenue from those customers. With the deployment and use of the internet, open standards managed by independent industry groups – such as the Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) Association or the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APCO) – have replaced proprietary vendor standards, making it much easier to interoperate and to share networks, data and voice transmission
We ensure that our products meet regulatory compliance standards and interoperability tests.
SECURITY: With increasingly sophisticated and aggressive cyber-attacks, security has become a must-have. Not only is access security important, but high level encryption has also become essential. Radio networks have very high security requirements, due to high government use, and are usually private, ensuring others cannot access transmissions as easily as they can on the public cellular network. The level of encryption within P25 networks is specifically designed for the higher requirements of law enforcement. As an example, the Sao Paulo Police Force’s effectiveness had been previously limited by drug cartels intercepting their communications and disappearing before police arrived. The Tait P25 network commissioned in 2006 has yet to be cracked by the crime syndicates and Sao Paulo Police recognized the contribution of the secure communications to a reduction in crime of 60% between 2006 and 2011
REDUNDANCY IN AN EMERGENCY: the critical nature of Public Safety and utility work functions benefit from having multiple networks that provide additional redundancy. As most organizations already use the local public cellular network for a number of functions, in the event of a disaster, key staff can be issued with a radio. The radio network is a very cost-effective way to ensure the needs of an organization coping with an emergency are met, without the cellular network. Contrary to widely held beliefs, radio is by no means past its prime. Radio has evolved significantly, and will continue to play an essential role in Public Safety and Utility organizations that require mission-critical communications across challenging coverage areas. When issues such as coverage, reliability, security, robustness and cost are fully considered, a radio network offers genuine business value to many organizations.
|Photo: © Tait Communications.
Q: Without revealing anything that could be considered proprietary of course, can you tell me where and how Tait radio technology is being used by First Responders and Law Enforcement Bureaus worldwide? Is there a particular “case study” you can, or would like to mention, where Tait gear “Made the difference” in a rescue or disaster response situation?
A: Our experience of providing solutions to Law Enforcement, Police and First Responders customers has demonstrated our success in solving complex communication problems in demanding situations, from the Middle Eastern deserts to the South American jungles. Our clients, in 150 countries, benefit from our reputation for highly reliable products, integration with third party products such as dispatch consoles or location applications, and on-going support.
As you probably know, the hub of our global operations is in Christchurch, New Zealand. Our city is the second-most populous city in New Zealand and in February 2011 has been affected by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Roads and bridges were impassable and all utilities were either down or severely disrupted. Power and water were out for weeks, sewerage was out for months, and all telecommunications lines and cell sites were overloaded. All the communications networks were overloaded as people tried to reach their loved ones. Emergency teams were overwhelmed and struggled to get coordinated in the first few hours after the quake. In the initial search and rescue period after a disaster, the first priorities for first responders and other emergency response crews is to establish lines of communication, assess and report on the severity of the situation, and enable the identification and coordination of the appropriate emergency management strategy. Many post-event review and analysis documents repeatedly point to the importance of communications, and the complications and confusion caused by communication breakdowns
Whilst the NZ Police CAD (Computer Assisted Dispatch) system remained fully operational, Police had no connectivity with Civil Defence. As a result of this and the fact that Civil Defence had to relocate, for the first two weeks as aftershocks continued and communications network remained at risk, NZ Police relied heavily on pen and paper communications, and engaged runners to take messages to and from the Civil Defence headquarters. Thankfully the Tait digital radio system used by the NZ Police didn’t fail and they were able to communicate effectively with the officers in the field
The Canterbury District Commander of New Zealand Police Dave Cliff said: “Excellence in the immediate response depends on having great resilient and committed emergency service people and resilient communication. Fortunately, in Christchurch we had both.”
Q: First Responders and Emergency Managers have unique needs when it comes to radio communications. They need a supplier that not only recognizes that, but is equally unique. What is unique about Tait Radio’s Solutions? What is it that you feel truly separates you from your competition?
A: Digital wireless communication forms the central nervous system of everything we do. We have worked hard to develop genuine insight into our client’s world, and this understanding, and our belief in championing open-standard technology, means we can give our clients the best possible choice and value to achieve the human outcomes they are driven by.
Q: With what you are at liberty to discuss, what is on the horizon from R&D for Tait’s platform use by the eComms Community?
A: Public Safety agencies already use a range of wireless communications networks, including Land Mobile Radio, public carriers like 3G and 4G, WiFi and satellite to connect back-office and the field. The most basic form of communication that any agency uses is its LMR network, which is critical to emergency response. Increasingly, mobile and data is being used to proactively and efficiently address public safety challenges. Each network type has its advantages for certain applications and tasks.
However, if these networks remain entirely disparate, their major benefits cannot be realized. The key to realizing the combined strengths of each network is a unified critical communications approach. This ensures seamless handling of bearer choices and greatly improves the efficiency of the over-all system. The outcome is a solid communications solution that allows future proofed growth, but can respond economically to dynamic changes, without compromising key mission critical objectives.
At Tait we are looking to unify critical communications, which will support agencies in gaining
- More efficient operations and increased end user productivity
- Enhanced interoperability
- Increased cost savings
- Greater coverage
- Better resiliency
Simply by assessing the coverage and the data capabilities of each technology, it becomes clear that no single network can serve the diverse needs of Public Safety agencies, so employing multiple networks becomes the reality. The requirements for unification of networks drive seamless use and roaming between them, this is not only possible through this unified approach but is quickly becoming essential for proactive public safety operations. At Tait, we will continue to come up with solutions that represent our commitment to this approach, which at the same time still allow our clients to maintain their choice of vendors for elements of the network and change their mind as they need to.
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