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Thoughts on “Unlocking Interoperability” Article

The article, “Unlocking Interoperability: What It Means for Next-Generation Public Safety Communications,” by Robert Stack, which appeared in the in the July 21st issue of Homeland Security Today, hits home for many of us who manufacture emergency communications equipment. As one of those manufacturers, Zetron agrees wholeheartedly with the points Mr. Stack makes about the criticality of radio system interoperability and open standards, especially during disasters.

A key factor that is not mentioned in thearticle, however, is the role the dispatch console plays in such emergencies.

The dispatch console is the heart of the public-safety communication system. Because it connects first responders to the communications center, it is a key component of the radio infrastructure and is vital to ensuring the interoperability that disasters and other multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional situations and events require.

That’s why the P25 Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) is as critical as the P25 Inter RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) when it comes to achieving interoperability. The CSSI provides the wireline interface between one manufacture’s consoles and another manufacturer’s P25 RF network.

Consoles can be purchased either as a proprietary component of the RF infrastructure or separately from an independent supplier. Independent consoles use the P25 CSSI to connect to the RF infrastructure.

It is important for agencies to fully understand the value and flexibility that the CSSI can bring to their RF infrastructure and their console choices, even if the agency is not yet purchasing consoles. It is also important to for them to understand upfront and take into full account the hidden costs and limitations proprietary offerings can impose.

Clarity about these issues begins with the bidding process. To ensure that an agency has all the information necessary to make a fully informed choice, the RFP for an RF network should require bid responses to specify how interoperability and value will be maximized. Bid responses should also be required to include the CSSI and its costs. To see an example of boilerplate wording that can be used to specify the inclusion of the CSSI in an RF infrastructure RFP, go to: http://www.zetron.com/corporate/boilerplate.aspx

If the CSSI is not addressed in the radio infrastructure bid, the CSSI may be ignored. As a result, an agency’s choices may be limited to only those consoles that a proprietary infrastructure will allow—even if those consoles are unable to provide the features, functionality, interoperability or value an agency may require.

These are some of the main reasons why Zetron is deeply committed to open standards and why the CSSI should be treated as an integral part of any radio infrastructure solution.

Sincerely,
Ellen O’Hara
President and CEO, Zetron, Inc.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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