One of the first things anyone responding to a crisis will do – whether it’s a FirstNet subscriber, emergency responder, or private individual observing or personally involved in an emergency situation – is reach for their cell phone.
The stress of the situation only escalates when they’re on the move from one part of a building to another – coordinating, collaborating, providing leadership, trying to escape the danger themselves, or helping others.
Now imagine if they have to go up or down stairwells to get to safety or reach those in need of help and their call drops. While it’s a generally accepted fact that cellular coverage is terrible in stairwells, the impact of dead zones takes on enormous proportions in critical situations – both inside a building and beyond. In a wildfire, for instance, there may be coverage holes due to no signal from cell towers, which exponentially increases the risk to emergency responders and inhabitants.
Nextivity is active in the public safety community and has partnered with organizations like the Safer Buildings Coalition that are committed to improving critical communications during emergency situations in an effort to reduce the risks to first responders and those they’re trying to help. Together we are driving awareness about the importance of emergency responder radio communications systems (ERRCS) systems across multiple industries.
FirstNet connection inside buildings
Providing complete coverage in buildings is an impossible task for network providers using the outside macro network alone. FirstNet is no different. This year, Nextivity released Cel-Fi GO RED to boost FirstNet-dedicated band 14, as well as band 12 for AT&T as a backup frequency for situations when band 14 is unavailable. Cel-Fi GO RED eliminates dead zones and offers an improved indoor signal for FirstNet subscribers.
Eaton County, Michigan – which is home to approximately 110,000 people across the county’s 10 local communities – recently installed Cel-Fi GO RED at its central dispatch for emergency services. The central dispatch answers all 9-1-1 calls in the county, and handles dispatch for the county’s 14 fire departments, eight law enforcement agencies, and six emergency medical services agencies. In 2018, the County’s dispatch team fielded more than 94,000 calls for police, medical, and fire services.
The County’s dispatch center is located in the basement of a building (that was constructed to withstand a tornado) in a rural area with no cellular towers in close proximity. As a result, it lacked cellular service. This was quickly resolved by installing Cel-Fi GO RED.
“Our mission is to support Eaton County’s public safety personnel and the people they serve,” says Michael Armitage, Director at Eaton County Central Dispatch. “With Cel-Fi GO RED, we are confident that we can do just that, when it matters most.”
Commercial bands are also important in public safety
Most network operators offer some sort of emergency services package to first responders. For example, they can offer priority and preemption calling over their networks. Nextivity released Cel-Fi GO+ for use on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, GTCI Alaska, Rogers, TELUS, Bell Mobility, SaskTel, Freedom Mobile, Videotron, and Eastlink. The system, which can be set up in minutes, delivers 65 dB gain in mobile mode and 100 dB gain in stationary mode. Cel-Fi GO+ is ideal for use in any emergency situation where there is insufficient cellular connectivity on cellular bands in use by emergency responders, and those impacted by a crisis.
Setting up emergency cellular amplification – anywhere, anytime
Nextivity’s ecosystem partners have created Cel-Fi GO+ and Cel-Fi GO RED portable coverage kits that can be rapidly deployed anywhere cellular signal is poor. These kits can be set up in just minutes to establish vital communications between emergency responders, without the cost of COWS (Cell on Wheels) that is often too expensive for regional police or fire department budgets.
The Cel-Fi GO+ portable kit was deployed as part of a wildfire exercise by the Department of Defense in a Joint Interagency Field Experimentation at Camp Roberts. GO+ was set up at remote locations where trucks were sent to gather information on fire-fighting conditions, such as weather and wind, and where the cellular signal was poor. GO+ magnified the signal so that vital information could be relayed to the Emergency Operation Command Center.
ERRCS solution amplifies both cellular and LMR
This coming year, Nextivity will begin shipping Cel-Fi QUATRA RED, an in-building public safety ERRCS solution – the first Class A UL2524-listed public safety repeater solution to include both Land Mobile Radio (LMR) and FirstNet in one integrated package. Cel-Fi QUATRA RED is designed on Nextivity’s award-winning digital category cable-based distribution architecture. Scalable from one to twelve watts to support any size space, Cel-Fi QUATRA RED relays four cellular LTE bands (4, 12, 25, 14) and 700 and 800 MHz LMR, with independent donor ports for LMR and cellular, to deliver ideal performance and coverage. The solution contains everything from an ERRCS solution an integrator or building owner needs to get a Certificate of Occupancy, including a Communications and Battery Backup unit, Remote Annunciator extension, and an Emergency Power-Off Switch (EPO) that can be located with the main components or easily placed in a remote location with other fire alarm gear. Cel-Fi QUATRA RED incorporates Nextivity’s SOC 2 Type 1 compliant portal, enabling remote management and monitoring capability for these devices. If there’s any kind of alarm, the fire alarm panel be triggered, and the system will also automatically notify a designated administrator via text, email, or dashboard.
With Cel-Fi QUATRA RED, building owners can rest easy knowing that first responders will be able to communicate effectively when lives and properties are at stake.
To learn more about the Eaton County Central Dispatch Cel-Fi GO RED installation, download the case study here. www.cel-fi.com/rcr24
About the Author
Joe Schmelzer has 20 years of experience driving the creation of products and solutions for chipset vendors, device OEMs, and service providers, including Sony, Qualcomm, Google, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Dell, and HP. Mr. Schmelzer has previously held positions with Wavecom, Sierra Wireless, and Novatel Wireless. He was also a founding member of CTIA’s Wireless Internet Caucus. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cel-fi-com