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A Hazard for Emergency Communications

By Mike Collado
December 18th, 2013

“If you can’t call us, we can’t help you.”

That’s the unfortunate reality many first responders face when they enter large buildings.

WJLA TV recently explored this topic in Arlington, Virginia where SOLiD and Morcom International have been deploying Distributed Antenna System (DAS) solutions in county buildings to enable public-safety communications indoors:

The same technology making buildings stronger and safer could actually be putting lives in danger in an emergency. That’s because the buildings themselves interfere with emergency responders’ radios. Whether it’s police or fire, fast and clear radio communication can save lives. Arlington’s construction boom of new commercial and residential buildings has created big challenges for emergency responders. Powerful, state-of-the-art building materials often block radio communication, making it hard for police and firefighters to communicate during emergencies. Watch the video here.

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We’ve long advocated for education, code adoption and incentives to advance the vision of achieving ubiquitous indoor public-safety communications. Donny Jackson at Urgent Communications concurs:

Having in-building systems that support first-responder communications throughout the nation would be a boon to public safety, because it would be easier to develop, practice and execute standard operating procedures when there is a similar communication environment in all locations. Given the relatively low cost associated with adding public-safety support to the cellular support that the market demands, now is an opportune time to implement the changes needed to make this happen nationwide. Read the full article here.

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As a founding member of the Safer Buildings Coalition, we are pleased by the naming of Chief Alan Perdue as Executive Director to lead this industry group.

Safer Buildings is a non-profit organization that provides advocacy and education related to indoor communication issues, and brings awareness to solutions that will enhance indoor communications capabilities during emergencies for the general public and public-safety first responders. The shared vision among its members which include leading companies and organizations within the wireless and public-safety industries is to create safer buildings that possess advanced indoor public safety communications systems.

Chief Perdue recently discussed the shared responsibility within the wireless industry to solve the problem with Urgent Communications:

Public-safety is something that needs to be solved and one that is not going away.  We see on the news everyday cases where communications – or the lack of thereof – was a problem in the outcome of the incident.  We can fix that.  Watch the interview here.

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Safer Buildings is inviting leading companies and organizations within the wireless and public safety communities to join as charter members. Contact the Coalition to learn more by sending email to info(at)saferbuildings(dot)org.

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In 2014, SOLiD’s president Seth Buechley will join Chief Perdue, John Facella (RCC Consultants) and Robert LeGrande (The Digital Decision) on the “Overcoming Hurdles to Ensure In-Building Communications” panel moderated by Ken Rehbehn (Yankee Group) at IWCE 2014.

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