Project 25 in action

     This past November marked an important milestone for users of public safety communication equipment, one that brought true interoperability closer to reality. This was the first time that industry-wide documentation of Project 25 (P25...


     A final CAB details the requirements for documenting the successful completion of the performance and interoperability tests. When a manufacturer has completed the test process, they provide copies of the test reports along with a Suppliers Declaration of Compliance (SDoC) for each model of equipment tested to the Responder Knowledge Base (RKB), an online repository of information for first responders hosted by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). After review, the SDoCs will be posted on the RKB so that users interested in interoperability can determine what equipment has been tested.

Establishing interoperability

     Which brings us back to the beginning of this article; by November 2009, many P25 equipment manufacturers should have completed the first round of the P25 CAP cycle. In May 2009, eight performance and interoperability labs were recognized by the DHS-OIC, which allowed testing to begin. During the week of June 22, 2009, the first interoperability test event was held at the Harris Corp. Interoperability Test Lab in Lynchburg, Va. Over the course of the summer, performance testing and interoperability events were conducted at additional manufacturers' labs. As of November 5, 2009, the DHS-OIC began accepting the SDoCs for review and posting on the RKB. Over time, additional (new) radios will go through performance and interoperability test processes, and will be added to RKB on an ongoing basis.

     The process for establishing P25 interoperability has been a long and arduous path. This does not mean, however, that P25 equipment only achieved interoperability recently. For the most part, equipment sailed through the P25 CAP interoperability testing because P25 suppliers have been working together to address interoperability issues for years. Many P25 systems in use today use radios from a variety of manufacturers, but the use of multivendor radios on a P25 network has not been easy for network operators. With the emergence of the P25 CAP, selecting radios that interoperate on your network became much easier. And this is good for everyone — users, network administrators, suppliers and the public that relies on effective public safety communications for their protection.

     Paul May, who works as the manager of system marketing for Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications, is well versed on APCO 25 Standards and can be reached via www.harris.com.

     Editors Note: Additional information regarding the P25 CAP and the Responder Knowledge Base can be found at www.safecomprogram.gov/SAFECOM/currentprojects/project25cap and www.rkb.us, respectively.

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