Over the last 50 years, public- safety radio communications has seen tremendous advancement and growth. It’s been labeled as the “… single most important piece of first responder PPE” according to Fire Chief Thomas Jenkins (Rogers, AR); it may also be the most “underserved”. His comments during a recent online interview with Fiplex and Mission Critical Communications highlighted not only a lack of awareness and a need to educate AHJs, but the need to focus on finding ways to increase the deployment where needed. Combine this trend with the increasing demand for in-building coverage and it doesn’t take an RF genius or an Ivy League MBA to recognize the tremendous business opportunity as well as a challenge for solution providers and integrators of in-building public safety systems. However, it is also one of the primary in-building mission obstacles. As we look to accelerate and scale to address the millions of buildings without proper coverage, the mission’s success hinges on delivering solutions that deliver better business for all stakeholders.
“The public-safety integrator’s business is complicated and successful SIs are those that constantly refine their deployment practices, streamline labor efforts and, of course, evaluate and deploy the best OEM offerings.”
SUCCESS IS RELIANT UPON BETTER BUSINESS
The business of public safety should not impact the mission. In fact, the single biggest impact to the in-building public-safety mission is the systems integrator’s ability to do so profitably. Without better business driving technology and solutions, deployment efficiency, and financial alignment with commercial real estate stakeholders, the mission will languish. Focusing on the SI’s business challenges increases deployment rates, grows the base of qualified integrators, and reduces the commercial real estate stakeholders’ financial exposure.
The public-safety integrator’s business is complicated and successful SIs are those that constantly refine their deployment practices, streamline labor efforts and, of course, evaluate and deploy the best OEM offerings. Here are three areas that should be under constant scrutiny and management by the public-safety ecosystem to insure not only the SI’s viability as a business but, also, to fulfill the mission’s requirement.
DESIGN, PROCUREMENT AND VELOCITY
Public-safety networks can be and, at times, are more complicated than you may expect. Significant time is spent in the designing, specifying and procurement of a solution. The financial impact here is magnified when you consider that the effort takes place as part of the bidding process. Determining the exact product requirements and possible customization needed before you can propose a solution is not only a significant overhead expense but, also, a limiting factor on how fast you can meet market demand. While understanding a project’s design requirements upfront will never go away, presales engineering and design efforts can be mitigated by leveraging flexible software-defined solutions. This flexibility can accelerate engineering and design efforts by reducing the research and engineering time needed to customize a proposal with bespoke solutions. Additionally, once a project is awarded, off-the-shelf, high velocity product availability has a positive downstream effect by accelerating deployments and increasing project scheduling efficiency. OEMs, like Fiplex, are providing higher performing solutions that address macro network interference, oscillation, and near/far issues that enable network designers and engineers to become very efficient by allowing them to streamline infrastructure BOMs without fear of post deployment issues.
There is no magic formula here: a project’s labor line presents a big gamble for the competitive integrator. Public safety projects can face major overruns as a solution is deployed under the watchful eye of the AHJ. Design and engineering oversights or aggressive proposal challenges will often require in-field replacement equipment and infrastructure changes to overcome performance issues. Further project pressures are also at play as there is also no room for cutting corners or taking short cuts that will affect possible performance or produce code violations. However, there is significant room to improve the onsite labor metrics for the integrator, both from actual hours on the project and the level of expertise required onsite. Cloud-based configuration, testing and monitoring eliminates a significant need for truck rolls and onsite expertise. Automated protection of the network and equipment is also at play. Smarter solutions will self-manage to protect not only the coverage integrity but, also, the equipment. Dealing with anomalies, without dispatching a technician, reaps both project and operational cost benefits.
LEVERAGING BETTER TECHNOLOGY
The one constant for a public-safety project is that there are no two projects alike. Each venue presents unique challenges both in the coverage requirements and their impact on the macro network. Integrators must design, engineer and manage the proper solution for each venue while also understanding the limitations of the available technology. Moving forward, all public-safety stakeholders will be focused on smarter, higher performing and less complex solutions. Software-defined flexibility, network automation, remote access and comprehensive solution flexibility are key to driving more efficient deployments and profitability for integrators committed to the mission.
“Software-defined flexibility, network automation, remote access and comprehensive solution flexibility are key to driving more efficient deployments and profitability for integrators committed to the mission.”
SAFER BUILDINGS, SOONER
AHJs, system integrators, OEMs and building owners each play a critical role. And, while each has a unique business model, they are also impacted by the efficiency and economy of each. The future success of in-building public safety communications will undoubtedly follow the path of better business. OEM solutions will evolve to increase network performance and reduce complexity for SIs and AHJs to better align adopted code with technology and drive better economics for SIs and building owners. There are a lot of buildings today that are at-best underserved and, at-worst, dangerous. Wireless innovation that is better business focused will serve to make buildings safer, sooner.