Modernising mission critical communications through intelligent push-to-talk

We live in the age of digital disruption, where the rapid pace of technology change is moving faster than any of us can keep up with.

As the volume of data in our society grows, the applications and mobile devices that draw on that trove of data are becoming more advanced too. Mission and business critical organisations including public safety agencies and heavy industries also use a variety of devices and applications to provide communication across their workforces.

As the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ movement showed us in the mid-2000s, there are many operational benefits to connecting organisational communications via the mobile devices that employees already have in their hands.

Today, the principles of private and secure organisational communication have evolved to enable mobile broadband links to connect directly with traditional two-way radio networks.

That means employees using a variety of other devices including smartphones, tablets and desktop computers can now communicate directly with two-way radio users.

For a public safety organisation, the benefits of connecting a police officer using a two-way radio with a senior commander using a smartphone are clear. Linking radio users with other mobile device users enables greater situational awareness and stronger collaboration, which ultimately translates into safer and more productive outcomes to help keep our cities safe.

Additionally, the ability to connect multiple government agencies to the same communication system increases awareness to enable better, faster and more accurate incident response during major emergencies.

The modernisation of mission critical communications in this way represents a significant step forward for both the public and private sectors.

The value of radio communication

TETRA (terrestrial trunked radio) and DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) digital radio systems have been long-established as the leading technology for mission-critical communications for government agencies and enterprises including utility companies, logistics providers and the transportation sector. For all of these industries, digital radio provides the most secure, reliable communication with voice quality far superior to consumer-grade cellular systems or public networks.

At the same time, radio users expect their digital communications systems to be enhanced with new and emerging, data-rich technologies that take advantage of today’s ever-expanding era of digital transformation.

Ryan Darrand, an industry expert from analysis services provider IHS, expects continued strong demand for LMR (Land Mobile Radio) solutions including TETRA and DMR for years to come. While the baseline for digital two-way radio will be voice communications services well into the future, additional broadband-enabled solutions including LTE devices and private LTE networks will increase the value of digital radio.

Fast, efficient emergency management

Today, company employees use a variety of communications devices to manage different tasks. However, connecting a number of devices to enable cross-network communications can be highly complex. In emergencies, as well as for routine working scenarios, employees need to share information quickly and reliably – both within their own teams and with other colleagues working in different departments.

Consider what this looks like for a modern-day airport operating across a large geographical area with employees working across a number of separate teams. If a passenger enters a security zone without authorisation, the police, customs officers and private security guards would need to respond in seconds. Sometimes airline crews, check-in staff and back-of-house employees may also need to be involved to ensure the right actions are taken.

In moments like these, instant and reliable team-based connectivity enables individuals to work safely and effectively to deliver the best possible outcome.

Support at the push of a button

To meet daily operational challenges, government agencies and businesses require reliable, stable and flexible group communication systems with push-to-talk functionality – across different devices and networks.

A reliable broadband Push-to-Talk (PTT) service with integration into a radio communications system enables call initiators to quickly setup talk groups and share messages or other data with their colleagues.

Broadband PTT communications provide a variety of other features including location-tracking services to monitor the safety and wellbeing of staff and multimedia communication to enable text messages, images and video to be shared.

Broadband PTT enables enterprises to accelerate the flow of valuable information including alerts, tasks, reports and images throughout their organisations, thereby increasing collaboration and productivity.

Additionally, by basing these services in the cloud, commercial and business organisations can benefit from a flexible, scalable and affordable model that reduces capital investment costs.

The need for speed and further evolution

The speed of PTT provides instant communication so teams can stay connected and up to date at all times.

Meanwhile, the need for real-time data and video sharing between relevant user groups working at the same location continues to grow.

For example, when a vehicle flees a crime scene, it can be much faster and more effective to share an image via PTT communication links than by providing a description with voice communication. Crucial seconds saved in moments like these can make all the difference in preserving safety.

In summary, while two-way radio technology has existed for many decades it continues to evolve and is as relevant today as it has ever been. For users across both the public and private sector this presents as an ideal opportunity to reach levels of safety, security and productivity.