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General Scanning Discussion For general questions not specific to a model of scanner or general discussion of use of a scanner. Location specific posts should be directed to the regional forums listed below.

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Old 09-29-2013, 11:54 AM
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Default Interoperability?

Today, I ran across an article from the NY Times that shed some light on a problem that has affected some parts of our country in this post 9/11 world. It seems as though people could agree on the frequencies, but not the equipment or systems used. I am sure that profiteers & shady sales staff had something to do with the systems that have been poorly installed or selected. One cannot discount naive government entities being led down a Primrose path by these people who would likely blend in well with the duties at a Used Car lot. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/us...it_th_20130929

But, when our emergency workers are killed in the process of failed communication systems, that is unacceptable. First responders deserve much more. They are the life blood of our Democracy!

Hopefully, someone will wake up and smell the coffee.
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Old 09-29-2013, 4:29 PM
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You'd think intelligence would prevail, yet it doesn't. You are correct in the thought that shady used car dealer tactics are used by the larger companies, this is something that has been proven time and time again. The big buzzword in the public safety communications industry is "interoperability", you can sell just about anything if you can tie that word to it.
One of the big issues is that our government wants desperately to "fix" the communications issue, yet they don't know how. In an attempt to look like they are doing something to help, they will gladly fork over millions of dollars to smooth talking salesmen that promise the moon, yet deliver the stuff you find on the floors of stables. Politicians are looking out for number one. They want to keep their spot at the money trough and will do some truly stupid things to keep themselves there, even wasting millions if not billions of taxpayers money.
To top this all off, the public in general wants the best for our first responders, however they don't know how to do that. The public will demand something be done right away to fix the issue, and the sales guys will be standing right there with a "solution" that just so happens to fit the budget.

Interoperability isn't a technology that you buy. It isn't a box with lights and dials that makes a whirring sound. It certainly isn't P25, although there are those that will fight to the death to convince you it is. Interoperability is an attitude. It's the idea that two or more adults will identify a need and work together to make communications work. It doesn't need to be new radios or more money spent, it needs to be a change in the way things are done and they way different agencies cooperate. Unfortunately some agencies like to be inflexible and want everyone else to change the way they do business to match theirs. This is adults acting like children, and it doesn't work.

When technology is applied as a fix to this lack of cooperation, it fails. It fails almost every time. People die, yet we don't learn.

When a big agency buys into the technology as a solution to interoperability, it forces everyone else around them to have to purchase the same technology, even those that can't afford it. Look at the big fire departments that buy into the P25 world. They'll purchase $2500 to $6000 radios and set them up so they are anything but interoperable. They'll then require any agency around them that wants to talk to them purchase the same radios. Many times smaller agencies, or volunteer fire departments can't afford this gear. What happens is the guys who really need the radios don't have them. The departments simply can't afford to equip everyone with a radio that costs that much. When the responders that need the radios don't have them, because of the high cost of "interoperability", the system has failed.
This is driven, like so many other things, by the haves versus the have-nots.

There isn't a P25 radio made today that won't do analog. Analog is the de facto standard. Everyone has it. Analog is interoperable, doesn't matter which radio you have, as long as you are on the same band, you have interoperability with the other radios.
The reason this doesn't work is because there isn't as much money to be made in analog. It's more profitable for the big companies if everyone is forced to purchase a $2500 or more radio for each responder. After all, the bottom line is whats more important, not the safety of our first responders.

Multi thousand dollar P25 radios are not the answer. If anything, the new multi-band radios are whats needed. The prices are nearly the same, yet one provides true interoperability, the other just throws technology at the issue.

Oh, and that technology that is supposed to solve all the issues, yeah, it's out of date. P25 has been in the works for 20 years now, and it's only now operating in a way that is even remotely reliable.

Last edited by mmckenna; 09-29-2013 at 4:31 PM..
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Old 09-29-2013, 6:30 PM
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Analog is interoperable, doesn't matter which radio you have, as long as you are on the same band, you have interoperability with the other radios.
That isn't true if somebody has their radios programmed to decode a CTCSS/CDCSS that somebody else isn't encoding.
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Old 09-29-2013, 6:41 PM
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Being a 23 year prescott residence i find this sickening and have since it occured, knowing 3 of the hotshots makes it even worse.

The comments about poor coms are uterly negligance in this day and age especially with gps enabled radios and trackers that have existed for several years. Basically our city and the entire industry has failed these boys. Our local newspaper has been full of citizens comments for the past 3 months with speculation on what went wrong and now this report has fostered more resentment and disgust at our community for inadequately providing their professional public safety personal poor and outdated equipment.

Alot of the blame can also go the the public safety radio mfg's who fail to put basic needed features in their equipment as opposed to filling them up with useless options when advanced tracking capabilities have existed for several years.

Additionally i find it disgusting when hog hunters in this country have more advanced radios equiped with lone worker polling, advanced gps tracking that show on high resolution screens multi unit and multi dag tracking locations. Again when hoghunters can afford better radios than fire fighters that are years ahead of the outdated BK radios without gps capabilities that these men were stuck with then you know the system is seriously broken.
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Old 09-29-2013, 6:54 PM
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That isn't true if somebody has their radios programmed to decode a CTCSS/CDCSS that somebody else isn't encoding.
Thank you Captain Obvious.
This is why intelligence needs to be part of "interoperability". If setting your tones wrong is what stops interoperability with another responder, you've likely got some bigger issues within your agency. The guys who program the radios need to be competent, that should go without saying.

Thinking that technology is going to resolve radio programming issues is the wrong mindset. Doesn't matter how much you spend on a radio, if you don't know how to program it correctly, it isn't going to work. Doesn't matter how much taxpayer money you throw at the radio vendor.
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Old 10-01-2013, 2:02 AM
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It might not just be a mistake in programming. We have many counties around us using the same frequencies but different PLs to keep from interfering with each other.
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Old 10-01-2013, 8:08 PM
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So let me get this straight....all these new fancy radios don't have SPEN 1,2,3,or 4? Aren't they or were the frequencies neighboring agencies used to communicate with other?
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Old 10-01-2013, 9:54 PM
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"Interoperability is an attitude" I can't agree enough...

NYC for example hasn't done much to improve on things since 9/11 in this area.
Yes they have new tools in the toolbox but they are still far from there.

For example a EMT's radio for FDNY EMS can talk on all EMS dispatch channels but can't talk on some of the special channels used. You would need another radio for that. You can talk to any NYPD police officer except special units like ESU(SWAT) but you can't talk to Fire (except one tac channel which isn't easy to coordinate)

PD can only talk to PD except for one tac channel same issue as above.

FD vehicles can only talk to fire dispatch except chiefs. You have no access to special channels, EMS, PD or interop channels. Portable radios can talk on UTAC but know ones this. You can't even talk to the dispatcher from a portable fire radio, so if the rig breaks and you have no other units you have to use a cell phone or something.

Like mmckenna Interoperability is an attitude and until the powers at be get into the mind set we will continue to have problems. I do have to say some places are doing good, Boston seems to be one that stands out.
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Old 10-02-2013, 5:51 AM
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Interop is something that should not be left in the Tool-Kit for the big one, it should be used Routinely, which is where much of the Boston area does shine.

BAPERN, Metro Fire, Mass State 700/800, NEMLEC, SEMLEC, WEMLEC etc

BAPERN was created in the 70's, so Interop is nothing new.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbendick View Post
"Interoperability is an attitude" I can't agree enough...

NYC for example hasn't done much to improve on things since 9/11 in this area.
Yes they have new tools in the toolbox but they are still far from there.

For example a EMT's radio for FDNY EMS can talk on all EMS dispatch channels but can't talk on some of the special channels used. You would need another radio for that. You can talk to any NYPD police officer except special units like ESU(SWAT) but you can't talk to Fire (except one tac channel which isn't easy to coordinate)

PD can only talk to PD except for one tac channel same issue as above.

FD vehicles can only talk to fire dispatch except chiefs. You have no access to special channels, EMS, PD or interop channels. Portable radios can talk on UTAC but know ones this. You can't even talk to the dispatcher from a portable fire radio, so if the rig breaks and you have no other units you have to use a cell phone or something.

Like mmckenna Interoperability is an attitude and until the powers at be get into the mind set we will continue to have problems. I do have to say some places are doing good, Boston seems to be one that stands out.
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
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Interop is something that should not be left in the Tool-Kit for the big one, it should be used Routinely, which is where much of the Boston area does shine.
In Palm Beach County (FL) the interoperability (Common talk-groups) are used daily for both planned and unplanned events. The program was assembled by commitee in early 2000, officially depolyed in August 2001, and currently works as advertised for over 70 agencies.

Interoperability
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Old 10-02-2013, 7:34 PM
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So some of these agencies were on the ball?! New York City you would think would have the best system in the world after 9/11 they should have hit the reboot button.
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Old 10-02-2013, 8:48 PM
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interoperability is a mindset not a set of technologies

biggest hurdle for interop is most agencies just don't want to let each other play in each others playgrounds

if two agencies don't want to talk to each other it doesn't matter how much equipment you have how many JPS boxes whatever, at the end of the day they don't want to interoperate
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Old 10-03-2013, 6:15 PM
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Ok I get ya.
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