Situational awareness is crucial for first responders to be able to perform their jobs safely and effectively. L3Harris Technologies’ Public Safety and Professional Communications business is a leading supplier of communications systems and equipment for public safety, federal, utility, commercial, and transportation markets. The business has more than 80 years of experience in public safety and professional communications and supports more than 500 systems around the world.
XL Family of LTE Radios
L3Harris has introduced the next generation of the converged XL family of LTE Land Mobile Radios (LMRs) that can access powerful FirstNet® capabilities. FirstNet® is the nationwide public safety broadband network dedicated to first responders and those who support them. Officers rely on their ability to communicate, and crystal-clear audio over the P25 radio system with data sharing provides agencies with more ways to connect in extreme environments.
In emergencies, immediate action and modern technology are vital to successfully respond to crisis situations. Officers on the front line require communication systems that do not fail, enable broad coordination, and are interoperable. L3Harris Technologies is meeting these higher standards by delivering solutions to meet often unforeseen needs of law enforcement agencies.
In the last two decades, a slow and steady communications revolution has occurred. As a result, military personnel and first responders are able to communicate faster, more precisely, and with more unity than ever before in response to internal and external threats. This allows them to better anticipate, more accurately predict, and respond to the evolving threats posed by foreign adversaries, cyber terrorists, as well as Mother Nature. With every threat or crisis, the industry reacts with solutions that meet the latest challenge.Reactionary Solutions in ActionWhen P25 was developed in 1989, it took the events of 9/11 and the subsequent analysis of the 9/11 Commission to advocate for open standards and the elimination of proprietary solutions. The Commission acknowledged the problem that our local and national public safety agencies were closed off from each other, which means they often could not communicate when necessary.
Many agencies used antiquated, analog systems that were not connected due to a reliance on proprietary technology that lacked interoperability and sufficient range. This meant the first responders were often at a disadvantage when responding to an incident or a natural disaster, placing themselves and citizens at risk.
Telecommunication companies and several government agencies responded to the Commission’s report and began to embrace P25 standards aimed at remedying these communications gaps. For instance, P25 radio capabilities were deployed in more than 20 counties in southern Florida over several years. Miami-Dade County is one of the largest counties in the country, and they use L3Harris’ P25 800 MHz radio system. It provides daily public safety communications that showcase the system’s interoperability, unifying 100 agencies and 32,000 users. The system processes more than 5 million transmissions per month and supports the day-to-day communications for state, federal, and tribal agencies in the region.
Uniting Private and Public Sectors
While these recent technological advances are helping police communicate better, it is important to look at the next innovations that the future might require. Government and public safety agencies have collaborated to create an interoperable broadband network. FirstNet® was built with AT&T and brought the private and public sectors together for increased functionality across the network, allowing for integration of P25 standards.
With the rollout and adoption of open standards and interoperability, the integration of P25 standards and FirstNet® into critical communications technology is crucial. It must be done while keeping costs down and allowing local governments to utilize their existing more interoperable communications systems. Agencies must be able to communicate with one another regardless of which systems they are using.
Parma, Ohio and FirstNet® Connectivity
The city of Parma, Ohio is a Cleveland suburb of approximately 80,000 people, and it is a prime example of the benefits of FirstNet®. The city had concerns with limited access and communication shortfalls, with only one cell tower that caused difficulties communicating with neighboring police departments and first responders.
With their integration into FirstNet®, Parma’s systems are interoperable with the city’s neighbors, and its first responders can use data transmission in a variety of emergency situations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has enabled ambulances to conduct video conferences with hospital emergency rooms to better prepare for critically ill patients before they arrive. Biometric monitors have also been deployed by fire departments to gauge the health of their staff at disaster scenes.
The threats facing the United States have definitely changed over the last 20 years. The coronavirus pandemic, cyber warfare, and natural disasters have dominated the news, and the communications upgrades launched in recent years make our country better prepared to respond. A continued, steady communications revolution is integral to deliver seamless interoperable communication to professionals who need it most, regardless of the crisis.
Radio Technology Grants
In 2020, L3Harris Technologies kicked off a partnership with PoliceGrantsHelp.com and FireGrantsHelp.com to provide grant support to public safety agencies seeking funding to purchase the newest radio solutions. PoliceGrantsHelp.com and FireGrantsHelp.com, part of Police1.com and Firerescue1.com, provide first responders access to a national database of available grants. Under this partnership, experts guide public safety customers through the grant process, including identifying available funds, applying for and helping to secure funding for the products they need. To date, the organization has secured more than $250 million in agency grant funding.
“Partnering with PoliceGrantsHelp.com and FireGrantsHelp.com helps public safety and emergency response customers overcome purchasing challenges by identifying and providing grant assistance services,” said Nino DiCosmo, President, Public Safety and Professional Communications, L3Harris. “We have also created a dedicated lineup of L3Harris communications solutions to help them complete their missions.”
XL Portable and Mobile Radios
The L3Harris solutions include the XL-150P, XL-185P, and XL-200P handheld portable radios, and the XL-185M and XL-200M mobile radios. L3Harris’ XL mobile radios, or in-vehicle routers, are now certified and approved for use on FirstNet® and are AT&T certified. FirstNet® is built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority within the federal government. FirstNet® is designed with and for public safety and those who are critical to their emergency response.
The FirstNet® Ready™ XL-185M and the XL-200M support access to the physically separate and dedicated FirstNet® network core, FirstNet® First Priority® – which includes always-on priority and preemption for first responders – and the FirstNet® Band 14 spectrum.
“With our entire XL portfolio receiving FirstNet® Ready™ certification, our customers and prospective customers can rely on L3Harris to deliver products that enhance the ability to stay connected, whether by Land Mobile Radio, WiFi, or LTE with FirstNet® connectivity,” DiCosmo said. “We are pleased to continue this collaboration with AT&T and look forward to bringing even more advanced capabilities to our users.”
Before being certified and approved for use on FirstNet®, devices are subject to hundreds of tests that cover a number of aspects, from security to network impacts. This helps to ensure devices meet the critical needs of first responders.
“FirstNet® devices and modules go through an extensive review, so first responders can be confident that L3Harris’ XL-185M and the XL-200M meet our highest standards for reliability, security, and performance,” said Brenda Kittila, vice president, FirstNet® Program at AT&T. “The more tools public safety has access to on their network, the more we can help them achieve their mission.”
BeOn During COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted our way of life over the past year. L3Harris Technologies offered its BeOn software application for free to healthcare and public safety workers, allowing users to turn their smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices into an encrypted public safety radio — enabling immediate communications to individuals or large talk groups. The BeOn service was available at no charge to agencies responding to COVID-19 operations.
The process to download and begin using the L3Harris BeOn software app takes less than 30 minutes. The technology is meant for devices used by emergency responders including police, firefighters, paramedics, National Guard members, in addition to hospital, health department, and local government workers.
“While first responders rely on handheld radios for their day-to-day communications, many of these healthcare heroes do not carry or have access to handheld public safety radios,” said Dana Mehnert, President, Communication Systems, L3Harris. “Agencies that are currently using BeOn in their communities have called this offering a ‘game changer’ for their COVID-19 response efforts as they are now able to connect many users from a variety of groups without having to issue, manage, and sanitize handheld radios.”
To learn more visit www.L3Harris.com