In government and public safety, wireless communications aren’t a luxury, they’re lifesavers. Every year, the equipment and features available become even more sophisticated in their ability to ensure everyone’s safety. That knowledge is one thing, and getting the budget and funding approved is another thing.
Our teams are well aware of the challenges that government entities face, and we tailor communications systems that fit agencies’ and municipalities’ needs today and into the future.
As I’ve talked to clients and kept track of trends, here are some of the most innovative and budget friendly wireless communication solutions for government that I’ve come across.
APX Radios for Public Safety
The APX Series is the top-of-the-line radio throughout the market, and it’s transitioning the way radio is done because of its capabilities.
Some of the current and future features of the radios that are transforming communications include: faster data, text messaging, email, and GPS tracking precise enough to pinpoint, for instance, a firefighter’s location within a building.
Body-Worn & Vehicle Cameras
It’s no surprise that video is key right now for public safety, especially the video footage captured by cameras worn by officers. Departments are increasingly using cameras to protect everyone involved in situations, including officers and civilians.
Camera systems are also becoming more common in police vehicles as another way to document interactions and behavior.
Cameras not only document, their presence can be a deterrent and a method of gathering evidence for things like speeding tickets: A motorist may say they weren’t going 90 mph, but the footage says otherwise.
While in some cases a visible radio is an asset, in other situations, discretion is the better option. For those times, detectives and officers assigned to gang units are using covert radios ranging in size from the kind that can be carried casually in a backpack, to lightweight devices that fit in a pocket, all the way down to radios controlled by a push-to-talk that looks like a key fob.
One Device for Everything
Another set of products that are flooding the market right now are the Getac tablets, which provide all-in-one capabilities for public safety and military. The ruggedized tablets are lightweight, secure and have fast wifi and optional GPS. They’re also compatible with fire and police department CAD systems.
Train, Train, Train
Investing in the best radios and equipment is important, but it's just the first step. The second, and I would argue equally important step, is training all personnel on how to use it properly.
My biggest piece of advice to departments when they get new equipment is: Train, train, train. I’d say that at least once a week I get a call from a customer that a radio isn’t working properly, and when I go out to test, I can’t find any performance issues. That usually means one thing: More training is needed.
When it comes to radios, missteps that seem small – like not speaking directly into a microphone or having it in the wrong place – can add up quickly.
Tips for Addressing Budget Concerns
For departments and municipalities that are considering upgrades to their wireless communications systems, I have a few recommendations when it comes to budgeting:
- Apply for as many grants as possible, even small ones.
- Get quotes for the products you need a year ahead of time to prepare for the cost.
- Finance: If you don’t have the capital for the entire purchase price now, financing is a way to spread the cost over as much time as you need while getting to use the products in the meantime.