BY MIKA SKARP
What is Local Control & Why is it Essential to Public Safety?
In the past, every critical communications organization had also their own communication network. Traditionally, these networks have been used for voice and also for some low capacity data connections.
Proprietary radio networks are expensive to operate, and from a frequency utilization perspective they are woefully inefficient; wasteful in fact. The good thing about a private network though, is that you have control of your own, ‘local’ resources.
Enter Local Control for Public Safety
First introduced as a concept by PSCR (the Public Safety Communications Research program), Local Control is designed to combine command of both proprietary and general purpose networks. The later component presupposes that Local Control allows several logical networks to function independently within a single physical network. The image below provides representation of the concept.
Reliable, Manageable Public Safety Networks
Logical networks can be defined by a number by factors including geographical area, time, up and down link capacity and delay. As an organization, you are given predefined performance definitions, stored as templates to be used as dedicated virtual nodes in a general-purpose network.
Delivered as a solution, a Local Control portal would allow you to assign resources to your users and groups in a manner similar to how a company’s security administration would grant new personnel, subcontractors or visitors access to their facilities, physical or virtual.
Local control Features & Functions
Priority Management During a Public Safety Crisis
From the outset of an event, and in real-time, your Local Control UI allows to you change priorities between users manually or automatically based on rules; for example, triggering increased priority levels for specific users when the network becomes congested. This function, (often referred to as ) is important in catastrophic situations, but in our opinion, it is not the most important feature.
Access to Services
We see this as the one of, if not the key features of Local Control. Because not every user/app needs to be provided the same performance level at same time, efficient use of finite resources becomes the name of the game. Local Control gives public safety operations the ability to make performance allocation decisions themselves and effectively and efficienctly manage their resources for all users, devices and apps as needed.
Real-Time Network Status
Another key feature of Local Control that gives you a detailed, up-to-the-minute view of your own network area, especially critical if there is a problem. In local control system you can also see where your users are in the network and how much capacity they are using and how much they are entitled to. Local control system can also make sure that network is not over loaded and SLAs are met.
Automatic Profile Changes
Device (UE) level API to Local Control allows profile changes to be made automatically, on-the-fly. These changes can be made on the basis of time, location, network conditions etc. and done on a dynamic bases. It is possible to create geo fence for example. One device can use different profile based on the way it is used or environment. The user does not need to be a human but also IoT application can be managed by local control.
Local Control for Mission Critical Networks
Local control provides essential command of the network for mission and life-critical organizations. This is mandatory in public safety, but it also provides a significant opex/capex savings aswell.
Where outmoded TETRA and P25 networks are costly to maintain and for all but impossible to upgrade, public safety organizations are coming to a buyers market of network capabilities, new applications, devices with the reliability of dedicated networks at a fraction of the cost.
And this same win-win formula can be applied to utility companies, where the next generation of planners can cut the cables as it were, WiFi replacing fixed Ethernet loops to factory automation as well as WiFi.
Here factory building becomes considerably more flexible and less expensive while at the end providing a much more capable, reliable network. These are a just few ideas on how Local Control comes into play outside of its traditional, Public Safety only application.