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Talking Public Safety at DAS in Action

By Mike Collado
April 23rd, 2012

We had the opportunity to present on the “Building Codes, Public Safety and DAS” panel during the recent DAS in Action event produced by our friends at the DAS Forum and PCIA.

Based on the number of questions after the session as well as the discussions we had during the breaks and receptions over the two days we were in Atlanta, it is clear that Public Safety coverage inside buildings is a complicated and emotionally-charged problem to solve.

Yin & Yang

That point was hammered home in the introductory remarks by the panel’s moderator, Bob Butchko of Lord & Company Technologies Inc., whose description of a first responder – weighted down by heavy gear, suffering through the smoke and heat of a building on-fire, and burdened by a communications radio that likely does not work in the building to coordinate with other team members – served as a poignant wake-up call to this problem.

Each panelist shared a different approach to addressing Public Safety. From attacking it with technology and establishing far-reaching partnerships; to affecting policy and initiating training and certification standards.

Overall, solving the Public Safety problem creates confliction… On an emotional level, industry stakeholders want to ensure Public Safety coverage inside buildings. Who wouldn’t?

But business issues – chiefly financial and legal – along with implementation issues – including technology and system management – get in the way.

Our Take

SOLiD has been advocating the formation of a Coalition consisting of key stakeholders – Public Safety, Building Owners and the Wireless Industry – to create a framework to ensure coverage of public safety radio communications indoors.

At DAS in Action, we addressed the four issues and objections above.

  • Financial – The incremental cable and antennae infrastructure costs of covering areas such as stairwells is approximately 10% of the DAS cost. For the benefit of the public and first-responders (who also use smartphones) services should work there anyhow. If WSPs will provide a DAS that facilitates public safety, buildings owners and the public safety community should pay all costs to deploy and manage the signal source and required inspection of the public safety portion of the DAS.

 

  • Liability – There is no known case of litigation against WSPs associated with public safety coverage. That being said, risk management is an individual analysis that happens within the purview of corporate attorneys who have a legitimate goal of reducing corporate risk. People can always file a lawsuit, so this issue can never be completely eliminated. Developing and following industry best-practices is a positive defense against unfounded lawsuits.

 

  • Technology – This is an outdated argument that has been overcome hundreds of times with quality systems deployed by qualified integrators. Many wireless industry experts believe a converged system with proper filtering is the preferred method of eliminating potential RF interference when compared to two systems often managed by two parties

 

  • Management – Buildings owners and the public safety community should handle the management burden of everything associated with the public safety DAS including signal source installation costs, monitoring as required, certification, annual inspection, and system maintenance. Such work should be done by a “Certified” technician.

 

Want To Get Involved?

We’re in the process of putting together the proposed Coalition which will serve three purposes:

  1. Create awareness and educate the market on the problems and solutions
  2. Influence policy to ensure Public Safety coverage inside buildings
  3. Establish certification standards for integrators installing and managing DAS networks that provide coverage for Public Safety.

 

We could use your help. Please share your ideas and interest below in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Please watch Dan Myer of RCR Wireless summarize DAS in Action:

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