Radio Control Board notes from 9/19/2018 meeting

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maus92

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Notes from RCB meeting 9/19/2018

System Upgrade to 7.16
Last upgrade was in 2014 to 7.14, went smoothly
Slated to start in Dec 2018, OTA Jan 2019
Managed by Motorola Upgrade Operations Team
Involves new core s/w, RF and backhaul h/w replaced as necessary
Juniper firewalls to be replaced
Backup core updated first, brought online
Users probably won’t notice (offline for a few secs,) might see a new icon when complete
CCGW reset in 3-5 minutes, noticeable on consoles with conventional channels
Any issues, and they roll back to primary core immediately

New features:
Call and Channel capacity increases
RID display can be replaced by an alias, i.e. user name, etc.
Dynamic Transcoding. Currently when a FDMA client joins a TG, the TG / channel reverts to FDMA on all tower sites in the simulcast cell. DT tech forces FDMA only on the tower site that the client is hitting, the TG on the other sites in the cell remain TDMA

Usability.
Developing a web based form to report outages, coverage issues. Data imported into Google Earth for analysis by Motorola

User news.
Talbot has the most busies. Had an incident where their dispatch had a system hang for ~30 secs, but normally bonks are around 5 secs. System busies average about 15 / month
Garrett has radios issued for responses into Allegany
Talbot 2 channel upgrade update. Equipment to be installed next week, should be operational mid-late October
A “federal” radio in FDMA mode causes capacity issues in Talbot. Plan to encourage the user to upgrade to TDMA subscriber [perhaps Station Oxford?]
Allegany is “positive” and “impressed” by the performance / coverage of the system, beats expectations. Issues during migration have been mostly with users, and not the overall system
Allegany had more backhaul cases [tickets] than other Primary User jurisdictions because the system had not been up for months (“burned-in”) prior to migration
Cecil may add more channel capacity due to mutual aid responses with FDMA clients from Delaware
While Delaware is buying TDMA capable subscriber units, they are not enabling (paying for) TDMA functionality
Wicomico and Worcester are actively managing their new systems by limiting FDMA clients (mostly from Delaware.) [not sure how that would work]
Frostburg PD and Frostburg Univ come online next week.
Dorchester subscriber deployment underway. Expected to go live in December using their backup dispatch facility as their primary is reconfigured
Cecil just got proposal from Motorola. Operational in Spring 2019
Morgan State Univ intends to become a primary user

Phase 4.
Allegany-Garrett cell is known as “Allegar” [alley-gar]
All Garrett sites online, except Table Rock ASR. SHA has broken ground on the new tower site
Coverage testing begins in October
Contract spec is DAQ 3.4 on-street portable coverage. [not 3.0 as stated by a non-member county (or their consultant)] BER is measured as well.
Testing includes 12db indoor coverage loss, but not part of the contract spec. Data is recorded for later design development
Testing set up is a portable hooked to computer in vehicle. If test fails inside car, they get out and remeasure

Phase 5.
MdTA constructing site at Nice Bridge in Charles County. SHA building site on Georgia Ave in Montgomery. Getting some pushback from county residents on tower siting, will develop outreach program. [lots of NIMBYism in MC, I’m from there]

More notes.

ISSI not used on a “daily” basis in PG, however SHA uses the PG system when they drive into PG county. They stay on their FiRST TGs. Unclear if this is using ISSI or another technology (CCGW?)
MdTA has a consolette in LaPlata to support Nice Bridge comms. They operate on a Charles County TG, and their operations center is in the Baltimore area. Similar in the set up they use for the ICC where they operate on a Montgomery County TG. The functionality is enabled by CCGW, Conventional Channel Gateway
FiRST administration is performing a coverage analysis for every county in a scenario where the simulcast cell is lost. The situation is better if the county has ASRs in addition to simulcast cells. Considering installing geo-redundant primes (2 primes per cell) to enhance resiliency
Discussion about the STMC commissioners meeting. The presenter of that brief (semi) joked that Charles County was next. [Charles is slow rolling an upgrade like AACo, but they haven’t really started to spend lots of money yet, mostly freq work. I got the impression that the Charles County board member at the meeting *might* be interested]
Zone 3 core router expansion. Easton and Elkton are getting new routers. Routers are deployed in pairs. Cecil will be moving to Zone 3.
New firewalls will support 2 factor authentication for VPN access.


WAVE installation.
DNR is buying (100 licenses?) for the WAVE app for Smartphones. The app enables the user to communicate on a TG like a radio. Uses commercial cellular service. Intended for users who don’t have a need for a radio on a full-time basis. Uses the ISSI interface and connects to the core. NetworkMD provides the IP addresses. The Charles County board member says their “undercover’ officers use an older version so as not to be seen with a subscriber unit.

UPS upgrades.
It seems that the remote site backup generators are not as reliable as desired, and the Uninterruptible Power Supply batteries do not have enough storage capacity to support the site for extended response times to Western sites. So they intend to increase battery storage capacity. [backup generators are notorious for malfunctioning when needed most - some things haven’t changed]
 

ThePhotoGuy

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Thanks for the update. Some interesting details.

I am not familiar with the "Wave App" but that sounds interesting. Would be interesting to know how much each license costs. There are probably a lot of personnel that don't need a radio for day to day opportunities in many state agencies and even local departments but could have access to talkgroups in rare occasions. I wonder what part of DNR would be using it (Forest, Parks, Wildlife, etc.)? I wonder if each phone app has a separate radio id (RID) that would show up on the talkgroup?


It seems that Delaware operating in FDMA is going to be a long term issue. I was thinking maybe they could set up a talkgroup that is for Delaware - FiRST operations and then only patch it too the talkgroup that is needed during incidents arise instead of the radios allowing to affiliate to all the different talkgroups and causing them all to go in Phase I. But then all the Delaware radios will need to be reprogrammed. I have seen when Delaware switches to a talkgroup like Queen Anne Fire Dispatch where it turns it into Phase I and then this affects so many sites at once (QA, Matapeake, Kent, Talbot, Caroline, and Anne Arundel) which really ties up talkgroup slots. Would be interesting to know what they decide to do?
 

maus92

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Thanks for the update. Some interesting details.

I am not familiar with the "Wave App" but that sounds interesting. Would be interesting to know how much each license costs. There are probably a lot of personnel that don't need a radio for day to day opportunities in many state agencies and even local departments but could have access to talkgroups in rare occasions. I wonder what part of DNR would be using it (Forest, Parks, Wildlife, etc.)? I wonder if each phone app has a separate radio id (RID) that would show up on the talkgroup?


It seems that Delaware operating in FDMA is going to be a long term issue. I was thinking maybe they could set up a talkgroup that is for Delaware - FiRST operations and then only patch it too the talkgroup that is needed during incidents arise instead of the radios allowing to affiliate to all the different talkgroups and causing them all to go in Phase I. But then all the Delaware radios will need to be reprogrammed. I have seen when Delaware switches to a talkgroup like Queen Anne Fire Dispatch where it turns it into Phase I and then this affects so many sites at once (QA, Matapeake, Kent, Talbot, Caroline, and Anne Arundel) which really ties up talkgroup slots. Would be interesting to know what they decide to do?



The board member from DNR said that it's for occasional users that don't need a $6,000 subscriber. It's also more intuitive for users familiar with Smartphones rather than a radio they almost never use, can't find when they need it, has a dead battery, or hasn't been on the system for 6 months :) It sounds like they want to spread the technologies to other agencies as well.

As far as Delaware is concerned, the Dynamic Transcoding option they will install with the system update will partially alleviate the FDMA issue, along with adding channels. Not sure why Delaware is remaining with EOL SmartZone for now, but Maryland wants to encourage them to deploy functional TDMA radios to their state police and bordering fire companies.
 
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Mr_Boh

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WAVE is Motorola's app for PTT over IP. The use feels the same as Zello if you have ever used that. You can have TGs that are only for the WAVE server and apps only, or tie them in via ISSI as was mentioned. Apparently this is becoming a popular option for feds too. As described, that will help them a lot because it will give the people that insist they need to talk/listen a way to do so without talking up site capacity. I have seen many agencies give these people who insist on having a radio, but politically can't be told "no" being issued a G5.

There are 3 variants of WAVE (as of right now) but I am sure that may change. They are given basically P25 IDs if they need the capability to transmit on a talkgroup. Motorola insists you could run an entire dispatch center remotely over a single broadband connection using WAVE and desktop computers (i.e. no need for "traditional" radio consoles or expectation of RF coverage for the system being covered) as they have a dispatcher-oriented application for it as well.

I figured FDMA would be an issue if not general capacity problems within the state alone. Not to give the volunteers in the eastern shore counties a hard time, but a lot of them have guys probably driving around the counties with subscribers. Add Delaware folks with FDMA subscribers (and they seem to give them out like candy, for example the Fire Police) and everybody who has a bushy tail wants to listen (takes one to know one). Even before FiRST hit the Eastern Shore, you could see measures were being taken to prevent this from becoming an issue. For example, I would see subscribers from places like Worcester county end up in the Anne Arundel area and the radio would be immediately denied affiliation. Must be a pain to manage while making sure appropriate system availability.

The 7.16 feature of the transcoding seems interesting and I am wondering what it gains you. So you have one tower in the cell that has a channel that is on FDMA, it's not like you have freed up more capacity... unless of course you can detect if the subscribers for a TG are only affiliated other than the one with the FDMA subscriber and ensure that the TDMA TG can communicate. And I am sure priority plays a role in this.

Also would be curious to see if the scanner manufacturers and/or unication can come up with a way to decode the alias being transmitted.
 

boatbod

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Not to give the volunteers in the eastern shore counties a hard time, but a lot of them have guys probably driving around the counties with subscribers. Add Delaware folks with FDMA subscribers (and they seem to give them out like candy, for example the Fire Police) and everybody who has a bushy tail wants to listen (takes one to know one). Even before FiRST hit the Eastern Shore, you could see measures were being taken to prevent this from becoming an issue. For example, I would see subscribers from places like Worcester county end up in the Anne Arundel area and the radio would be immediately denied affiliation. Must be a pain to manage while making sure appropriate system availability.

Actually I think you'll find there are relatively few subscriber units driving around in POVs on the shore. Too damned expensive for starters, and even if they weren't, you've got the have a legitimate need to be granted access to the system. Do I have one in my vehicle? Yes. Does it get turned on when I'm driving around? No, not unless I need to respond to something in an official capacity. The G5 on my hip does a fine job of receive-only and doesn't cost anywhere near as much as an XTS.
 
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