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Posts Tagged ‘ Safer Buildings Coalition ’

5 Revelations for Indoor Public-Safety Communications

By Mike Collado
October 15th, 2015

I had the privilege recently to join two of my favorite public-safety subject matter experts – Donny Jackson (editor at Urgent Communications) and Chief Alan Perdue (executive director at Safer Buildings Coalition) – to discuss trends for indoor public-safety communications during an hour-long webinar.

Specifically, five revelations (or lessons, observations, finding, epiphanies…) that have bubbled to the surface for me from the research and subsequent discussions around the eBook SOLiD published in partnership with Hutton Communications this summer: The Imperative.

The Imperative is an introduction to some of the key questions and challenges we frequently encounter within the market regarding fire and building code requirements for indoor public-safety communications; technology solutions; and funding and ownership for these in-building networks. Read more from our pre-APCO 2015 post here.

The title – The Imperative – was purposely chosen… We believe that it is imperative that both the general public and public-safety first responders are able to communicate indoors should there be an emergency. Meaning that the public can be notified and call for help, and that first responders can communicate with one another, with command and with building occupants.

Here are the 5 revelations… Be sure to check out the free webinar for more information and in-depth discussion. And please let us know what you think!


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Revelation #1: We tend to overlook the “public” part of public safety

Most people think about police, fire and EMS and special Land Mobile Radios (LMRs) when they think about public safety. What is overlooked is the critical role that the general public and their smartphones (and feature phones – thanks Michael Dube for pointing that out on the webinar) play in public safety. This is a key shift in paradigm: a call from the public to 911 initiates the response from first responders; notifications from first responders provide instructions to the public. As Chief Perdue says, “If you can’t call us, we can’t help you.” The new public-safety paradigm requires a holistic view that includes both the general public and traditional public-safety participants. (Read more about this topic in our summary post for APCO 2015.)

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Revelation #2: We’re applying traditional outside-in thinking to solve a new indoor market reality

The majority of cellular calls occur indoors. Similarly, the majority of emergencies occur indoors. So why is public-safety communications being addressed as a last-mile problem with an outside-in approach that relies upon the macro wireless network (both cellular and public safety if you agree with me on Revelation #1)? Given the facts, we should reverse field and instead view public-safety communications as a first-mile problem to be solved through an inside-out in-building wireless network strategy.

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Revelation #3: Fire and building codes are complex for myriad stakeholders

With two fire code organizations (International Code Council and National Fire Protection Association) that publish model codes in different years which take years to be adopted at the discretion of each individual jurisdiction, it’s complicated and complex for stakeholders to navigate requirements for indoor public-safety communications. At a minimum, the lack of uniformity hinders a repeatable process for achieving the mission of Chief Perdue’s organization of making buildings safer. Further, the stakeholders – including public safety, building owners, wireless operators and technology manufacturers – often do not have a seat at the table to influence the creation of the codes. (Learn how Safer Buildings Coalition is helping)

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Revelation #4: Building safety systems should be paid for by the building owner

Indoor public-safety communications (once again, both cellular and public safety if you agree with me on Revelation #1) are akin to fire sprinkler systems: part of a safety system funded by the building as part of a code requirement. Like the sprinklers, those upfront costs can be recovered downstream via revenue from tenants. Is it a financial burden? Yes. But a “safe building” and/or one that enables cellular coverage is an asset to attract tenants, increase property value and retain tenants (learn more at WiredScore). We look to creative business models such as sharing in certain network expenses, tax breaks, insurance incentives and Good Samaritan laws to help advance funding of these networks by the building owner.

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Revelation #5: Convergence of indoor commercial cellular and public safety doesn’t make sense until FirstNet

It’s enticing to explore a strategy of converging commercial cellular and public safety on the same in-building distributed antenna system (DAS) network. After all, isn’t that the premise behind FirstNet: leveraging the commercial cellular macro network assets to build a broadband public-safety network? Set aside reliability and resiliency requirements for mission critical public-safety communications for a moment… The key reason to keep them separate t0day is interference. Specifically, an in-building public-safety network requires 25% of the significantly denser antennae infrastructure that supports commercial cellular LTE service. But, when FirstNet gets rolled out, the network will also be LTE – which suggests that the required in-building commercial cellular and public-safety DAS infrastructure will similarly map and support a converged network strategy. At that time, reliability and resiliency as well as coverage at locations such as stairwells and underground parking coverage areas which are critical in public safety, will need to be addressed).

The “Public” in Public-Safety Communications

By Mike Collado
August 25th, 2015

IMG_1676The 2015 APCO Annual Conference was both pivotal and revelatory for the advancement of in-building public-safety communications.

Team SOLiD returned to APCO for the fourth year which, for a Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) manufacturer, makes us a veteran.

I recall feeling like a pioneer in 2012 while discussing in-building wireless solutions with AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) when the conference was hosted in Minneapolis during which the first board members were announced for the nascent FirstNet initiative. Little did I know then that SOLiD would host the newly-elected FirstNet CEO Michael Poth and newly-titled President TJ Kennedy as well as current and former board members Chief Jeff Johnson and Chief Charles “Chuck” Dowd at a cocktail reception to launch a new eBook called The Imperative which details the obstacles and options facing public-safety communications inside public and private buildings. (Thanks to the Long View Gallery for hosting our reception!)

(Check our APCO recap posts from 2012, 2013 and 2014 to map the public-safety evolution. And watch videos from industry luminaries Jonathan Adelstein (PCIA), Rob LeGrande (The Digital Decision), James Teel (Harris) and SOLiD’s Seth Buechley)

A pivotal shift has occurred within the public-safety industry whereby the topic of in-building is no longer met with a puzzled or skeptical look.

When SOLiD presented back in 2012, we observed in a blog post that “Based upon the number of heads that were both nodding in agreement and disagreement during the panel, the public safety and commercial cellular industries need more forums for debate and education as well as programs designed to solve the common problem of public safety communication.”

In contrast, an industry colleague was surprised that nearly every attendee in his presentation this year was familiar with DAS.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 3.24.02 PMBut while developing The Imperative (download a free copy here), it became clear – as its editor, John Celentano, states in the eBook’s opening pages – that, “…public-safety communications is not relegated to police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS). Its about the general public, too.”

This is revelatory because most people likely envision a fire fighter when they think of the words “public” and “safety.” As Don Brittingham, Vice President for Public Safety Policy at Verizon observed during our launch reception, the general public is the “public” in public safety.

Donny Jackson, Editor at Urgent Communications contributed to the foreward of The Imperative and writes:

“From a public-safety perspective, good indoor coverage for customers and first responders provides multiple benefits during an emergency response.

Initially, strong commercial indoor coverage lets consumers who are indoors dial 911 to report an emergency via their cellular phone—the device they are most comfortable using, and it should provide better location information in the near future. This can save valuable time in circumstances when seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

Once first responders are on the scene, a good indoor public-safety system allows firefighters, law enforcement and EMS to communicate better and more efficiently using LMR voice today, with the potential to leverage Band 14 LTE and transmit sensor data via myriad technologies in the near future. This data capability includes the ability to track the location of first responders, as well as monitor their health via biometric technology.

When first-response efforts have gone awry, communications difficulties almost always are cited as a key contributing factor. This is understandable, because organizing any endeavor—from the construction of a sports arena to planning a family reunion—tends to happen more smoothly when strong lines of communications are open.

In short, a facility with good indoor wireless-communications coverage for consumers and public safety is inherently safer than those that lack this functionality. Without good indoor coverage, there likely will a delay in reporting an emergency situation and the response effort often is delayed, which can lead to increased property loss, injuries and fatalities.”


Chief Alan Perdue (Safer Buildings Coalition), Mike Collado (SOLiD) and Donny Jackson (Urgent Communications)

This observation was echoed on a panel moderated by Donny Jackson where I joined Chief Alan Perdue, Executive Director of the Safer Buildings Coalition (SOLiD is a member). Chief Perdue shared that the majority of 911 calls are made using a smartphone and that, similarly, the majority of emergency incidents occur indoors.

According to John Celentano, “…it is vital that both public safety and commercial cellular to work together to solve for public-safety communications.” 

The common denominator, however, is the Building Owner – the key stakeholder that can impact in-building wireless communications for both cellular and public-safety – who, unfortunately, remains noticeably absent from these discussions at APCO.

We’ll be back with a separate post to explore the challenges and opportunities for the Building Owner to address the public-safety imperative.

Tell us what you observed at APCO that is pivotal and/or revelatory in the comments.



Contributors to The Imperative: John Celentano (Editor), Donny Jackson (Urgent Communications), Clark Lazare (AT&T), Mike Collado (SOLiD), Manuel Ojeda (Morcom), Chief Charles “Chuck” Dowd, Chief Alan Perdue (Safer Buildings Coalition), Lori Blair (Hutton Communications) and Rob LeGrande (The Digital Decision)



Chief Charles “Chuck” Dowd discusses the public-safety imperative



Chief Alan Perdue discusses collaboration among venues, wireless operators and public safety



Mike Collado (SOLiD) and Lori Blair (Hutton Communications) welcome attendees to The Imperative launch reception



SOLiD Quad-Band Public-Safety DAS at the Hutton booth



SOLiD’s Ken Haberer and Matt Atkins at the APCO Block Party hosted at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum



Matt Atkins (SOLiD) and Chief Alan Perdue (Safer Buildings Coalition) at the APCO Block Party



Delivering thought leadership at APCO



Bike Art at the Washington Convention Center. There were also kitchen stools, kayaks and guitars!

A Disturbance in the Force

By Mike Collado
May 28th, 2015

“The Paris Exhibition Clock” by clockmaker E. Farcot and sculptor Albert Ernerst Carrier de Belleuse is a focal point in the Roosevelt Hotel lobby

The eighth installment of DAS & Small Cells Congress promises to once again provide a valuable proving ground for testing opinions and ideas as well as for challenging the status quo.

One of the most compelling trends that wireless industry Jedi knights are flagging as a significant “disturbance in the Force” is an emerging market for in-building DAS, Small Cell and Wi-Fi networks. You’ll hear descriptions such as the “enterprise battle ground” or “enterprise middle-ground” or “enterprise sweet spot.”

But let’s make it simple and call it the Middleprise Market.

The Middleprise is a huge, underserved in-building market with millions of square feet requiring coverage. Loosely defined it includes commercial venues between 100k and 500k sq. ft. filled with a wireless workforce whose smartphones keep them connected and safe.

As attractive as this market opportunity is, the in-building Middleprise Market is complicated. Today’s business and technology models don’t necessarily translate.

Here are some of the critical success factors:

  • Funding and Ownership is going to play a key role. While wireless operators will seek to participate, it is unlikely that they will want to do it all. Similarly, third-party owners will need to assess the ROI before pulling the trigger. So it’s incumbent upon the venue to be a catalyst that either shoulders all or shares in the costs of the network as Joe Madden (Mobile Experts) suggested in his post in FierceWirelessTech. Which informs that getting the business model right is paramount and possibly more complicated than ever.


  • DAS vs. Small Cells. Think about it… There is a Middleprise tipping point for both solutions. The bigger the venue, a Small Cell deployment tilts in favor of a DAS; the smaller the venue, a DAS deployment becomes less viable as a Small Cell strategy becomes more attractive. And let’s not forget about Wi-Fi! Like the business model, there is no cookie cutter approach for choosing among the Middleprise densification toolkit.


  • Design and Network Infrastructure will challenge even the best in our industry to balance quality of service (QOS) with total cost of ownership (TCO) in the Middleprise as Monica Paolini (Senza Fili) observed at the 2013 Small Cells World Summit. If you’ve been to one stadium, you’ve been to pretty much all of them… In contrast, the Middleprise is not so clean. The buildings that make up this market represent 100 years of architecture standards, and incorporates just about every building material known to man.


  • Public-Safety Requirements and Responsibilities. The Middleprise market is subject to fire code mandates as well as ethical considerations to enable in-building communications for emergency first responders, security personnel and the general public. Merging the efforts to enable public-safety and cellular communications – which is a focus of organizations such as the Safer Buildings Coalition – is sure to drive Middleprise opportunities.


Here’s a suggestion: When you pack your bags for DAS Congress, leave a little room for the return trip so you can bring home the plethora of opinions, observations and opportunities you’ll hear about in New Orleans, including those surrounding the Middleprise Market.

And make sure your plans also include the Tour of the Roosevelt Hotel on Wednesday, June 10 at 11:20 AM. The hotel is not only the host site of the conference but also a classic example of the Middleprise. Through narratives from our team as well as and industry subject matter experts, we’ll tackle key topics such as funding and ownership models, choosing among the densification toolkit, design and infrastructure considerations, and developing public safety requirements. Learn more and secure your spot here.



On The Road Again

By Mike Collado
February 17th, 2015

IMG_0430To quote Big & Rich: Well we’re comin’ to your city…

(Or at least likely nearby!)

One of the things that energizes us the most is getting into the marketplace to meet with buyers and partners and to share thought leadership.

5G comes with the promise of fiber-like speeds. It also comes with the opportunity for new market leadership because infrastructure must be overhauled to accommodate capacity.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Which is why events will remain an important and relevant vehicle to debate densification strategies and technologies.

For the latest listing of SOLiD events, please visit our website.

Here’s our calendar to-date:


agl_newAGL Regional Conference
2/18 – 2/18
Long Beach
Panelist: “Case Studies in Small Cells and DAS”

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3/22 – 3/26
Exhibitor (Graybar)
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mwc 2015 logoMobile World Congress
3/2 – 3/5
Exhibitor: Hall 6, Stand L41
Presenter: “The Densification Toolkit Evolution & Revolution” & “Getting Clarity on Cloud-RAN”

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Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 8.54.23 AMThe CIBET Initiative

3/9 – 3/13
Sponsor / Trainer / Exhibitor
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3/16 – 3/20
Las Vegas
Exhibitor (Hutton Communications, Booth #620)
Panelist: “Introduction to HetNets and Small Cells” & “A Study of In-Building Wireless”
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3/31 – 3/31
New York
Annual Sponsor / Exhibitor
Panelist: “DAS & WiFi – A Symbiotic Relationship”
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4/19 – 4/20
Panelist: “The Wireless Technology Roadmap: A Trip Into the Future”
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4/27 – 4/30
Hollywood, FL
Tee Box Sponsor: 11th Annual PCIA Golf Outing
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6/8 – 6/10/2015
New Orleans
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6/9 – 6/11