More media, less wires

Upgraded video systems and wireless tech play a major role in the following two industries, each serving a particular niche in public safety. Law enforcement aircraft operators now have access to products that may help them ‘see’ and even make decisions high in the sky. On the communications front, dispatchers are receiving a slew of multimedia information in addition to regular calls, including video and text messaging. This helps to better recreate real situations and might help fill in the blanks regarding ongoing investigations. 


Sean Drew is the Business Development Manager at Integrated Microwave Technologies (IMT), LLC. IMT designs and manufactures digital microwave video systems for mission-critical applications for military, aerospace and government customers. These systems provide enhanced situational awareness capabilities in covert surveillance, tactical systems monitoring and strategic detection scenarios.


How has business been this year?

Business has been delightfully hectic since March. A lot of this activity has come from agencies adding onto their aircrafts’ existing integrated video downlink systems. These systems are tremendously diverse in their applications, with users ranging from law enforcement, first-response teams and EMS, as well as fire fighters and border patrol. We find these users typically adding receive sites to their Mobile Command Units as well as adding handheld receivers. The application of the video downlink also gets recognized by other departments within the agency who wish to utilize video feeds.


What type of concerns or requests did you notice among your law enforcement customers?

The biggest concerns we notice are funding and budget. Most agencies know that there are grants available for the products that we manufacture, but, surprisingly there are quite a few that don’t. Even for agencies that are aware of the grants that are available, there may not be a dedicated resource within the agency to actively procure the grant.



Any specific product or service that was in demand in 2013?

Our video downlink systems are the most popular product with airborne law enforcement. They transmit live, HD images from helicopters to a number of receive sites, enhancing our customer’s operational readiness and improving critical response capability.


What specific product modifications or improvements will your company look into (if any) in 2014?

Wireless technologies and solutions are becoming an integral part of law enforcement, especially for those that are first responders or have primary responsibilities located away from the police headquarters or offices. It is important for agencies to be prepared for migration to IP-based public safety networks with appropriate technology. We have begun implementing bonded cellular 4G/LTE into our longer range transmitters and Bluetooth capability into our smaller form factor transmitters. This gives the user the ability to make changes to a transmitter that may be in a surveillance ‘hide’ without having to hook a cable directly up to the unit. A user can walk to within 30 feet or so of the transmitter or receiver and make the changes on a smartphone or tablet device.



Diamond Chaflawee is the director of marketing and business development for NICE Systems, for the public safety market. NICE Systems proides software that records communications between the dispatchers and units in the field; any other multimedia that is either generated or arrives at the center in the form of video, GIS maps, screen recording of the call taker or dispatchers activity. NICE Inform manages incident data, keeps it secured, and allows users to share with stakeholders such as the district attorney, police investigators or the media.
The goal is to recreate an incident after the fact in a way that is authentic reconstruction of what really happened based on the things that were said on the phone and radio, based on things video, operations and actions that the operator in the center took and so on. That is very useful for investigation purposes.


In the past year, what has response been from LE? Actively seeking this service?

We continue to see strong demand for NICE Inform in the U.S. and North America. Of course, over the years we have added additional functionality like managing additional types of multimedia, adding support for a hosted environment where multiple PSAPs can share a recording and NICE Inform technology. Earlier this year we added the functionality of quality assurance so it’s part of the technology.

Basically we enable users of the 911 center to review an incident for quality monitoring and training purposes and we came out with a very unique solution that allows a review of the incident as a whole incident, comprised from multiple multimedia items as opposed to what traditionally  has been available, which enables review of a single 911 call… So it’s much more complete, much more fitted to public safety.


What size agencies do you typically work with?

All sizes. Our customers include 9 of the 10 largest cities in the U.S., NYPD, LAPD, San Fran PD, Boston, Houston, Dallas, Phili, Atlanta, etc., but there are also the very small agencies where you have one or maybe two positions.


What are some top concerns, requests?

DC: I don’t know if concern is the right word, but NextGen 911 is a very big trend in the market. The transition to NextGen 911 is still ongoing, we’re not there yet. A lot of PSAPS basically have their fears of how are they going to manage all that multimedia and information once they become the NextGen911 center. On the roadmap to NextGen911 we also have Text-to-911. To me that’s kind of a milestone, but it’s also something that might be concerning to 911 centers as far as how they are going to communicate with the public through text. It’s perceived as less effective than having a conversation over the phone. I think these are natural concerns. We do see a good number of agencies welcoming change and looking into deploying different technologies, becoming text-to-911 capable and NG911, or even further, allowing the video from multiple sources in the city to be streamed into the center so the dispatcher can also see what’s going on the scene, rather than only hearing about it on the radio or over the phone.

Do you think economy changes how agencies decide what they are purchasing?

I see is a trend in the market to go towards hosted solutions. Multiple agencies and typically in the region would come together and share the IT systems of course, with that you’ll include the audio recordings and other technology, and share it between them. I think it works great because not only are they sharing the cost, but also each center is getting more for their money, more capabilities, so they are getting a more powerful solution for relatively less than what they would have paid if they had purchased it on their own.

The way I see it, many agencies are relying on technology to help them cope with the changes and handle an increasing amount of data that can be handling in the same amount of time, if not even faster. In our vision, NG911 the available of broadband, will enable bringing video and other multimedia and security information in PSAPs and other public safety agencies and other changes are going to require use of analytics tech, analyzing audio, video databases and correlating information and sifting the important parts of every input for the operator and guiding them through the process of response to make sure they are taking the right decision and considering the right input. I believe that the operating procedures will change. SO we believe that solutions like QA and other types of performance management, we call it, solutions, will also be more valuable for pub safety just to make sure the operators are acquiring the skills they need to acquire, and are involved in making the changes towards NG or whatever trend that we’ll see until NG will become a reality.