Five things you need to know about keeping your officers connected

Dispatch, this is car 476. I've got a pursuit in progress and need to run a license plate but the darn computer is down.

It is mandatory that users respect and secure the public data shared over wireless networks. While this is the very reason that many public safety organizations select private wireless networks, network security cannot be solely relied upon. Protecting the data itself in the wireless environment, be that on a public or private wireless network, is paramount to meeting federal guidelines and critical to public safety. When choosing connectionware, look for a solution that offers Mobile VPN technology including data encryption, encapsulation and verification.

Before any data transmission occurs, such as sending a user name, the VPN tunnel needs to be in place. Otherwise, hackers could detect weaknesses and attack. The VPN tunnel encrypts the data with standards such as FIPS 140-1 and FIPS 140-2, and encapsulates the data with a secure proprietary standard so that no outside source can access the information. Once the data is received, the connectionware will validate the data and return it to its pre-encrypted state completing the transmission.

Data transmission can then be authenticated for each user. Often done via a user name and password in combination with a token key or biometric device, authentication provides the officer with access to the network itself. Connectionware validates the password with the token key or biometric device and applies a static IP address to identify the user with the agency's database.

Leverage the best network

Many agencies use privately owned or managed wireless data networks in combination with public cellular networks to create a full coverage zone over the district. In multi-jurisdiction agencies, these networks can vary greatly in accessibility and performance creating a multitude of problems: officers needing to manually switch between networks and applications, IT managers dealing with overloaded networks because too many users are on the network at a given time, and applications needing to be reconfigured to meet each network's protocol. Connectionware provides the utopic ability to achieve a single IP network experience.

Once thought unfeasible, networks with varying speeds now can be easily integrated through connectionware. As faster networks are deployed, connectionware provides IT managers with the ability to easily migrate its applications between standards and speeds without creating bottlenecks or latency in the data. Connectionware also allows IT managers to automatically configure network connections based on the department's preferred choice. For example, if two networks are simultaneously available, the program can be configured to automatically pick the network of choice, which agencies can determine based on signal strength, time of day, associated network cost and the application itself.

Get data to where it's going

Connectivity to wireless networks can be disrupted by environmental challenges such as bridges and valleys. It costs officers precious moments as they try to reconfigure their connection, often forcing them to make decisions without all the information they need. This lengthy process can be negated by connectionware because it automatically reconnects officers to the network when a signal interruption occurs.

Not only does connectionware integrate networks into a seamless coverage area, but it also manages the connection of the applications to the network itself. When a network signal is dropped, for example, most applications will automatically shut down. This results in lost data if the data isn't buffered or on an open socket connection. Connectionware does both, keeping applications running smoothly as the system reconnects to the network and continues to send/receive data where it left off when the signal was dropped.

Translation for applications

No, this is not a sign of new programming languages, but connectionware is a way for managers to be prepared in case departments adopt applications with differing data formats. It's also a way to leverage existing applications that may not speak the same data language. For example, GPS data does not currently have a protocol of choice, and GPS applications have not been standardized. There are a multitude of formats including NMEA, TAIP and Garmin to name a few. This presents a rather difficult challenge for many IT managers because more often than not, the data source does not use the same data format as the application — rendering applications virtually useless. Until now, IT managers had two options: they could limit themselves to choosing applications based on matching data formats or they could invest in customized programming and time-consuming testing.

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