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HomeSmart BuildingsIoTReal-time IoT Diagnostics Solution Ensures High-integrity In-building Communications for First Responders

Real-time IoT Diagnostics Solution Ensures High-integrity In-building Communications for First Responders

For its innovative Internet of Things (IoT) diagnostics approach to monitoring public safety networks for catastrophic faults that prevent high-quality tactical communications, the Microlab SMART (System Monitor Alarm Report Technology) Passives System received the 2020 Connected Real Estate Tech Award for Best In-Building Public Safety Solution. Any lapse in mission-critical communications puts safety and lives at risk, underscoring the network reliability and coverage issues addressed by this recognized solution from Microlab.

When arriving on-scene at an emergency, first responders – from fire to police to emergency medical services personnel – must communicate clearly and reliably to relay pertinent information to command centers and amongst responding squad members. First responders have exclusive access to dedicated, in-building emergency responder radio communications systems (ERRCS). ERRCS are specialized wireless communications networks designed and operated against NFPA, IFC, and local jurisdictional fire and building codes, as opposed to traditional cellular networks. ERRCS remove the risk of cellular network congestion and a reduced quality of service. These in-building public safety distributed antenna systems (DAS) undergo a floor-by-floor grid test to validate performance at the time of commissioning, where Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) carefully evaluate radio signal strength (RSSI) and audio quality (DAQ) values. Once commissioned, the AHJ will start an annual inspection cycle of public safety DAS performance.

Between annual proof-of-performance tests, public safety networks are at constant risk of disruptions, disconnections, and damage caused by building renovation, maintenance, seismic activity, and even vandalism. Due to the unpredictable nature of emergencies, yearly performance assessments are often insufficient to guarantee that a first responder’s message will be heard.

The Microlab SMART Passives System is a real-time monitoring and diagnostics solution that continuously watches the DAS network for shorts, opens, and properly terminated or disconnected antennas, ensuring clear and reliable mission-critical wireless transmissions. Its main components – a headend SMART Gateway and up to 30 SMART Couplers – utilize a unique, embedded IoT engine for RF diagnostics, control, and processing. The SMART Couplers, which combine an active IoT diagnostic board with a 130 – 960 MHz broadband directional coupler, directly replace the required tappers and directional couplers, without requiring supplementary hardware, DC power connections, or Ethernet connectivity.

The SMART Gateway generates a continuous wave (CW) tone, measuring the forward and reflected power (i.e., VSWR and signal strength) at each SMART Coupler. Changes in VSWR and power levels identified through the headend unit’s real-time evaluation indicates a DAS network fault or a decline from optimal performance. VSWR, RSSI, and other key parameters such as alarm status are all monitored through the SMART Gateway’s multi-layered graphical user interface (GUI). Common web browsers are used to login, monitor, and administer the SMART Gateway’s dashboard.

When a SMART Coupler detects an issue and reports it back to the SMART Gateway, an alarm notification occurs through TCP/IP SNMP traps via email, SMS, and to the building’s fire alarm system through a local contact pair. To expedite troubleshooting and time to restoration, alarm messages include the outage’s location based on the detecting SMART Coupler’s media access control (MAC) address, which can be recorded on iBwave or as-built drawings.

With mission-critical communications, flawless radio performance is essential. The message must get through. The award-winning SMART Passives System from Microlab ensures public safety wireless networks are always ready to serve first responders.

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