Public Safety: Rugged Technology for Critical Moments

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Our public-safety institutions are charged with the most important responsibility – keeping us safe – and in some cases, saving our lives. When tragedy strikes, timing is of the essence and errors are unforgiving. Everything needs to go right. While many things are out of our control, our equipment is not. Traditionally, communication devices for public safety have been rugged and reliable – CB radios, walkie-talkies, etc. The evolution of mobile technology, however, now offers public safety professionals an incredible array of features to help them do their jobs in a more efficient and effective fashion. There is a downside to emerging technology though – it’s often delicate, making it unreliable in challenging conditions. Enter rugged mobile.

This week, Kyocera is headed to the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) 2017, the annual convention for communications tech professionals and two-way radio manufacturers. Manufacturers like Kyocera are revolutionizing mobile devices, combining the full technological power of the modern smartphone with rugged designs that stand up to the harshest conditions, providing unprecedented reliability when it matters most. From police officers to EMTs to Park Rangers, going rugged can help optimize operations – and keep the public safe.

The Move to Mobile

Rugged and reliable communication devices like two-way radios have served the public-safety sector well for decades. They allow for clear, immediate communication in critical moments, and their rugged designs stand up to the elements and the often-rough situations in which public safety officers find themselves. For these reasons and more, the public-safety sector has lagged in adopting mobile technology. The rapidly expanding benefits of mobile technology, however, are convincing the industry to adapt and adopt. A report from the Federal Communications Commission states that, “Today’s channel allocations in public safety communications bands can handle limited data applications, but emerging applications demand higher data rates and broadband capabilities for communications among first responders and public safety agencies. First responders in emergencies are beginning to recognize video applications and visualized location-based services as mission critical.”

It’s All About Information

In times of crisis, information is the most critical resource. And in the digital age, information is readily available – if you can access it. Smartphones and cell-enabled tablets put real-time information in the hands of public-safety officers, allowing them to respond and react to changing circumstances in real-time. Information is collected across multiple systems. Whether it’s information on a potential suspect, GPS location tracking, traffic information or dispatch communications, mobile technology is the conduit through which information is distributed. Armed with information, public-safety officers can gain a full understanding of the situation at hand, and act accordingly. Access to information can speed response, eliminate mistakes, and ultimately, save lives.

Next-Gen Video

 A picture is worth a thousand words. In public-safety environments, pictures can inform an approach and expedite the resulting actions. Mobile technology is increasingly focused on enhancing the quality and speed of photo and video transmission, allowing users to stream live video information. The possibilities are endless. The rise of apps like Periscope and Facebook Live have demonstrated what streaming video is capable of. Anyone armed with a smartphone can bring viewers into a live atmosphere. Media has been particularly adept at using the technology, broadcasting live from protests, rallies, natural disasters and more. This technology in the hands of public safety officers is invaluable, advancing situational awareness and amplifying information sharing.

IoT

 The Internet of Things has been talked about in technology circles for some time. But what started as more of a theory than a readily available application is finally coming to fruition. According to VDC research, 2016 saw multiple IoT cloud platform rollouts across large organizations. VDC predicts that IoT development will advance in 2017, focusing on everything from platforms as a service to security against botnet attacks. What does this mean for public safety application? Potential. From centralized monitoring of equipment and movement to reporting and surveillance, public safety will reap the benefits of emerging IoT applications. Many IoT platforms will rely on mobile devices, and applications in environments not hospitable to typical electronic devices are driving the demand for rugged devices to previously unseen levels. In order for IoT’s benefits to be fully realized, raw data – and sensitive data – must be aggregated and parsed over time. Mobile will allow for the easy flow of this data by acting as a conduit, as well as offering analytics functionality. IoT data lives in the cloud. Mobile can both upload and download this data anywhere, anytime, enabling public-safety officers to make real-time, critical decisions.

Security

One of the reasons public safety has been slow to adopt mobile solutions is a fear of security issues. Public safety organizations – particularly law enforcement – often communicate sensitive information. A security breach could conceivably have serious consequences. While the worry over security is not unfounded, the mobile industry is constantly evolving its security measures to thwart hacking attempts. With the US military making significant investments in mobile-communication solutions, security development is quickly evolving to meet the needs of the most security-concerned organizations. 

Rugged

Mobile technology often must be treated with kid gloves. Just look at the thriving market for smartphone insurance and aftermarket protective cases for consumers. In public safety environments, delicate devices are a non-starter. That’s where rugged mobile comes in. For most of the mobile era, truly rugged devices were available only to enterprise organizations – and at a significant cost. Companies like Kyocera, however, are bringing rugged to the masses with military-grade, affordable rugged devices that meet the needs of a wide variety of organizations – including public safety. Of course, not all rugged solutions are created equal. The emergence of rugged has resulted in devices that claim they are “rugged,” but don’t meet industry standards, certifications and benchmarks for rugged devices. Truly rugged devices – like the Kyocera DuraForce Pro – are designed to meet IP68 for dust and water immersion (up to 2 meters for up to 30 minutes) and Military Standard 810G for protection against dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, blowing rain, low pressure, solar radiation, salt fog, thermal shock, icing and freezing rain, humidity and water immersion. These are the conditions in which public safety workers often find themselves. These critical conditions – in critical moments – require durable, rugged and reliable mobile solutions. Kyocera answers the call.

KYOCERA AND INTREPID NETWORKS SUPPORT SECURITY OPERATIONS DURING THE 41st MARINE CORPS MARATHON

marathon runners on the street

Security has become critically important at large-scale events, like marathons, throughout the U.S., especially since the tragic events at the Boston Marathon in 2013. Mobile security solutions have become key in providing law enforcement and first responders with real-time situational awareness and communication tools that are vital for enabling quick, coordinated responses to emergencies.

For the 41st Annual Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, VA, which was held on October 30th, Kyocera and our partner Intrepid Networks, which develops situational-awareness software for the Public Safety sector, provided the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) with dozens of ultra-rugged, military-grade Kyocera smartphones loaded with Intrepid Networks’ STING® mobile solution working with the STING® Tactical Suite. The Marine Corps Marathon is the 4th largest marathon in the U.S. with 30,000 runners and thousands of spectators stretched in and around many national assets. Security was of utmost importance and required an integrated approach with multiple agencies using the best combination of hardware and software to support the operation.

With our rugged Kyocera smartphone using Intrepid Networks’ STING 9.0 software and running on Verizon Wireless’s 4G network, the on-the-ground security and law-enforcement teams at the Marine Corps Marathon were able to create a live, common operating picture for all responders to view on their devices, and enabled them to share data including maps, GPS and photos, as well as text-to-voice and voice-to-notes functionality. This ultimately allowed them to simplify communication, better connect responders with each other, and speed up potential response times.

Kyocera’s devices, which are certified to Military Standard 810G and “HAZLOC” (hazardous location) Class I Division 2, combined with STING’s latest situational-awareness software, created a great demonstration of the performance of our ruggedized devices operating in dynamic and sometimes hazardous environments, and working seamlessly with a leading public-safety software solution. Kyocera makes devices ideal for first responders, military and workers who need a smartphone that can stand up to challenging environments and its elements, including shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, blowing rain, dust, low pressure, solar radiation, salt, fog and humidity.

We were proud to have participated in the Marine Corps Marathon where Kyocera’s military-grade hardware and Intrepid Networks’ powerful software helped protect the safety and security of tens of thousands of runners, spectators and first responders. We look forward to continued collaboration with Intrepid Networks and law-enforcement agencies on similar projects in the future. For more information on Intrepid Networks, visit its website.

John is director of corporate communications at Kyocera. He has worked on the Kyocera team shaping its communications strategy over the past 15 years – 13 of those years in-house and two with a Kyocera agency partner. John has always had a passion for writing and began his career as a newspaper reporter at the Whittier Daily News, part of a multi-paper syndicate in Los Angeles. When not working, he and his wife can usually be found coaching, shuttling, refereeing or cheering for his three sons and their numerous plays, concerts and sports teams.