Interoperable Public Safety Broadband Network Deployed at the RNC

September 17, 2012

A consortium comprised of Cisco, Raytheon, Nokia Siemens Networks, Reality Mobile and Amdocs successfully deployed the nation’s first demonstrated multi-vendor interoperable Public Safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) network during the Republican National Convention. This broadband network provided first responders with a secure way to share real-time video, voice and data communications via smartphones and tablets.

The multi-vendor LTE network was implemented in coordination with the law enforcement agencies supporting the convention, a National Special Security Event (NSSE). The system marks the first time federal, state and local first responders have simultaneously used a 700 MHz D-block broadband network for an NSSE. The network was deployed under special temporary authority (STA) from the Federal Communications Commission for the convention, and provided a field trial of a multi-vendor integrated LTE system in advance of the $7 billion deployment of the National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).

“The LTE system provided a private network, eliminating the chances of commercial network congestion. The specialized applications gave law enforcement an advantage, allowing police officers to use everyday devices in a strategic and tactical way,” said Sgt. Dale Moushon, St. Petersburg Police Department Intelligence Unit. “While our traditional radio network provided primary communication among deployed officers, this technology enabled us to gather critical information for use in real-time decision making.”

Law enforcement officers from Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties used the LTE broadband system to secure the safety of convention participants and the Tampa Bay area community. The system provided first responders with highly secure, encrypted voice, video and data communications, as well as an evidence-quality, permanent recording of all data collected at the event.

The Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties operations centers and field personnel were provided secure access to the LTE system applications to support command awareness and enable sharing of real-time activity with executive staff and public information officials as needed. The Cisco IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (IPICS), Cisco Jabber, and the RealityVision applications allowed law enforcement officers and intelligence teams to receive and share live video, and position information about crowd movements well in advance of media and public social networking. The applications integrated fixed camera feeds, live video transmitted from smartphones, GPS-enabled blue force tracking, and Land Mobile Radio P25 push-to-talk voice resources from existing federal, state and local radio systems.

TJ Kennedy, Raytheon's director of Public Safety and Security, said, “The combined efforts of these companies and the customer community have created an interoperable broadband network that may be used as the blueprint for the larger FirstNet National Public Safety Broadband Network architecture. This will drive economies of scale and provide public safety organizations with cost-effective options to deploy the network using multi-vendor equipment and solutions.”

The interoperability was achieved through an open-systems collaboration among first responders, wireless broadband equipment suppliers and a system integrator to deploy much needed capabilities during the NSSE. The system uses Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) products from each of the partners to enable a manufacturer-agnostic platform for smartphones, tablets and computers sharing video, voice and data in real-time. In keeping with the STA requirements, the LTE network offered an alternative method of communication to field personnel that allowed roaming between commercial and private dedicated high-speed 4G services.

The LTE packet core, Unified Communications applications, IP routing/switching, and cybersecurity were provided by Cisco. Nokia Siemens Networks provided the LTE radio access network, and Reality Mobile provided the RealityVision mobile video and visual collaboration platform. Amdocs provided subscriber and device data management, and policy control with the Amdocs Home Subscriber Server and Amdocs Policy Controller (PCRF) solutions. Raytheon provided project management and systems engineering support.

Bob Fennelly, head of Public Safety for Nokia Siemens Networks, said, “The successful implementation of this open standards-based, multi-vendor, interoperable network certainly supports the viability of the long-term goal to deploy a similar nationwide system.”

While the future of the NPSBN and operation of the LTE trial network post-convention are still being determined, the applications and COTS devices in this system are now local assets that will be used to support daily operations by law enforcement and first responders.

Brian Geoghegan, executive vice president and chief product officer of Reality Mobile, said, “In highly fluid environments, visual context is critical. Today, public safety personnel can turn their mobile devices into roving command centers, allowing them to see and share live visual information with each other on the fly, to visualize where the source is emanating from and what other assets and personnel are in proximity to it and to talk to each other without having to leave the visual experience.”