By Darek Wieczorek, Principal Consultant
I had the pleasure of hosting a P25 best-practices roundtable discussion in New Orleans on March 27. We had 11 guests representing a wide range of current and future P25 system users.
At one end of the spectrum was the State of Michigan, with its 240-site P25 network and sophisticated support organization. At the other end was the rural Tennessee County of Macon, pondering on replacing its existing analog conventional network with the digital technology. Two experienced consultants provided their unique views. This mix yielded a great range of perspectives and experiences. Indeed, there was so much to say that I often (reluctantly) had to intervene and force the next topic.
We planned on covering three macro-topics, all related to P25 systems: procurement, security management, and system management. Not surprisingly, we spent most of the day on the first topic, but all three parts resulted in some good insights.
One common thread was, be skeptical about bells and whistles. Some commonly requested (fashionable?) system features are rarely used in practice. One example of this is OTAR (Over-The-Air-Rekeying), but there were many others.
We had a quick poll on who experienced any security breaches over the last 20 years. The answer: no one!
With some notable exceptions, U.S. public safety organizations are using only the most basic tools in comparison with other areas of telecommunications and IT.
Afterward, we received a lot of compliments from the participants, with my favorite being 16 pages of handwritten notes taken by one of our guests.
This was the first of three sessions, and I’m looking forward to the next one scheduled for May in Washington D.C.
Stay tuned — we’ll be sharing much more information and insights from the roundtable discussions over the coming weeks.