Des Bahr, chairman and president of the National Safety Agency (NSA), knows a thing or two about the importance of effective communications. With over 30 years of experience working in his industry, few people have the knowledge to assess dispatch equipment solutions as comprehensively as he does.
NSA and the ESIC Vehicle
A not-for-profit organization working in the areas of public safety, critical infrastructure resilience and homeland security all over the world, NSA partners with police, ambulance, fire services, security and military agencies, civil defence, local, state and federal authorities and bodies responsible for critical infrastructure protection inside and outside of government.
“We’re an independent organization that carries out research on behalf of government agencies, and also conducts a lot of product evaluation and prototyping,” says Des.
“We are often called in by agencies to evaluate the way in which they operate, and help them determine whether there are more effective and efficient ways to provide services to the community.”
Offering strategic consultancy, expert analysis and solution development, NSA develops innovative concepts providing tangible business outcomes. One such concept is the Emergency Services Integrated Communications (ESIC) vehicle, one of the world’s most technologically advanced incident management tools.
“A lot of agencies build their own vehicles to meet their own specific needs, but we looked at designing an all-agency, all-hazard approach. It doesn’t matter what the incident or relevant supporting organization, the goal was to build something to cater to all requirements,” says Des.
Advanced Dispatch Capability… on Wheels
The ESIC vehicle provides multiple integrated communications platforms, designed to keep both responding agencies and the wider community up-to-date. Featuring long-range, high-speed voice and data services, the ESIC can act as a platform to boost network coverage and improve communications capability over wide areas.
“If we can keep agencies up to date with real-time situational awareness, and also keep the community up to date at the same time, you can better respond as an agency,” notes Des.
“If the community are aware of the situation they can also make their own decisions more effectively, determining what they need to do to support response agencies or even evacuate their own area. Real-time situational awareness, whether you’re an agency or a member of the public in an affected area, is important.”
Beyond the management of actual incidents, the equipment onboard the ESIC can provide a range of predictive modelling capabilities – for floods, fire and lightning strikes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and toxic plumes or smoke clouds – all based on potential weather conditions at the time and any effect that may have.
Managing Dispatch with the DX-Altus
When designing the technology systems to be placed onboard the ESIC vehicle, Des and the NSA team knew they needed the right dispatch solution to manage their communications.
“As an operator, being able to handle multiple discrete communications devices can be complex. It’s important that you have access to all of those networks, voice and data systems, so we had to choose a product that is proven and has the capability to bring that together.”
Having worked with Omnitronics’ equipment in a previous role, Des had a good idea of what they could offer, so the decision to evaluate the DX-Altus system’s ability to suit their mission was an easy one. Also, given the NSA’s experience with product evaluation, they clearly know how to spot the right solution for their needs.
“We initially looked at a range of products before selecting a few for evaluation in making the decision, and the Omnitronics system came out on top. One of the advantages it did have was that it provided the functionality that they claimed, whereas some others we investigated didn’t.”
For the ESIC vehicles, interoperability was a required function for their dispatch system, a feature that made the DX-Altus stand apart.
“We use a range of radio technology and protocols – cellular, IP-based, TETRA, P25, HF and satellite – and this was the only solution we found that was able to integrate all of those within our requirements list,” says Des.
Ease of use for operators was also a critical factor; a system that is intuitive and straightforward can mean the difference between life and death in a crisis.
“There’s nothing worse than being in a situation where you have to respond quickly. When you have people yelling at you down the radio for assistance, the dispatch system needs to be straightforward and easy to operate, otherwise people get confused and may not respond accordingly.”
Supporting the NSA Team
Beyond the equipment itself, Des’ overall experience with Omnitronics has been exemplary.
“They’re a proven organization I have used in my time in government, emergency management and communications. It’s fine being able to access a product, but their continued support during and after the implementation was exceptional,” says Des.
“I commend them on the service they have provided – it’s just been fantastic.”
Should your dispatch solution be in need of a revamp, get in touch with Omnitronics today.