Assessing communications technology for Emergency Services: as the Fire Service prepares for digital mobile radio communications, more than one candidate has been put forward as a suitable technology. Chris Carini, from NTL's Public Safety team, looks at the key questions involved in making a choice.(Advertisement)

'The customer is king' is not only a maxim for retailers. 'What does the customer warn?' is also the fundamental question for any communications services provider, because above all, even the most innovative technology must be fit for purpose. Assessing the fitness of the various technologies available calls for far more than technical know-how; it is also essential to understand the operational environment, to be able to look at solutions front the customer's perspective, and to have the independence to evaluate a wide range of potentially suitable technologies.

Our starting point in NTL is to cast a wide net across the marketplace. based on our knowledge of what's available and supportable. This would be likely to include: traditional analogue PMR systems. MPT 1327 analogue trunked systems, and a variety of digital communications techniques such as TETRA, ACPO 25, and Tetrapol.

At this stage we would also be looking to reduce risk--not only around the technical solution, but also in the long term supportability of the system--so it's vital to investigate the extent to which each of the different suppliers' solutions and technologies are already in use. Other important elements to research are the stability of supplier companies, and any support or endorsement for their technologies from internationally recognised bodies.

Through customer's eyes

In NTL, the project team would then look at this initial selection from the customer's perspective--assessing the various products and technologies against the fine detail of the customer's requirements to identify those that offer maximum compliance. …

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