“We have to bring new technology into the critical communications sector; we cannot train new users to work with old technology.”
There is a growing demand for public safety services in the province and this calls for our responses to be rapid and efficient, without errors. Each year we have around 60,000 ambulance deployments for example. Rescue teams need precise information and our communications must be safe and fast.
Our people have different communications needs. Ambulance paramedics in the field prefer to use smartphones with LTE connectivity to get the information they need. Sending patient monitoring data to the hospital from the ambulance helps to improve diagnostics and care. For this they need LTE.
On the other hand, firefighters depend on the reliable communications and robust terminals that are quick and easy to use on our TETRA network.
Also, while my organisation is responsible for civil protection duties and does not include police services, it is clear that police officers out on patrol would benefit from broadband technology for database queries such as vehicle registration checks. At the same time, they need secure public safety communications such as TETRA.
A hybrid network provides a good solution for all these diverse needs and our need is to further integrate LTE with the TETRA network. 5G is far into the future.
Rolling out TETRA to all our personnel enables effective collaboration between the different teams and also across the border. We need secure cross-border communication. This allows rescue and emergency teams to speed up complex operations outside and within South Tyrol. The rescue teams are in constant contact with their colleagues and headquarters in South Tyrol. That was not possible previously.
Our platform allows rescue workers to connect to the Internet and get all kinds of information that is useful to them when they are out in the field. For this, we use secure, encrypted communications – if it’s not secure we don’t use it.
The head of an operation can get the necessary information directly from the Internet and does not have to contact headquarters, which is more efficient.
However, this also means they now have more responsibility for the mission as they can make decisions alone. Not everyone wants this added responsibility. Our rescue teams are volunteers and it is harder to find people willing to become heads of operations - unlike paid employees, they do not get extra money for extra responsibilities.
The new generation of users likes to use new technology. They naturally want to have the latest technology available for their rescue work. If I give a TETRA terminal to my children and ask them to send a text message, they cannot do it, they know only how to use a smartphone. Our volunteers want critical communications on a smartphone, but smartphones cannot meet the needs of public safety users who work in tough environments.
We have to bring new technology into the critical communications sector; we cannot train new users to work with old technology.
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The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Airbus.
Eng. Markus Rauch, coordinator of the regional radio service of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano