It's officially hurricane season. Everywhere you turn you see articles and newscasts discussing how to prepare your home in case of an emergency, what to pack in a disaster kit, what to know about shelters and so on and so forth. But have you thought about your business? I'm not talking about taping your windows, I'm talking about your communications. Your business communications are extremely important to the safety of your employees. It could be a blackout, a hurricane or another natural disaster or anything that will require your business to use their emergency plans. Did you include your communications when you were formulating these plans? Relying on cell phones is not the way to go. Circuits become overcrowded and calls can't always get through.
Okay I got your attention, now what do you need to do to have your communications prepared? Here are some questions you should ask yourself before an emergency situation arrives.
- Do you have a battery backup for your repeater? Your repeater runs on electrical power. If you have a power failure you will lose your repeater. Even if you have a battery backup, some repeaters go into a fail-safe mode when a surge is detected. Do you know how to reset your repeater properly?
- How long is your auxiliary power for? You have a battery backup - great. Now the question is, how long is it good for? Make sure you plan what you will do after that time expires.
- Are your radio communications on generator power? If you don't know the answer to this, they probably aren't. Consider getting a generator to extend your power in the event of an emergency.
- Do you have simplex channels programmed in your radios? A simplex channel communicates directly from radio to radio without using a repeater. This can also be called a "talk-around" channel. Your normal communications may require a repeater to function how you need them to. In the case of a repeater failure, having the simplex channel will allow you to still communicate although there will be limited coverage compared to how your normally communicate using your repeater. Some communications are better then no communications.
- Do you have spare batteries? This may seem like a silly question but having spare batteries that are fully charged will give you extra time to communicate if you lose power.
- Is your infrastructure equipment on the floor? If at all possible, move your equipment off the floor in case of flooding.
- Are you tower and/or antenna structures secure? Checking the security of your antenna and/or tower structures is something you want to do prior to an emergency. Through time and weather conditions these structures can weaken. We recommend having this checked at least once a year.
The above questions are just a few that you should be asking yourself on a regular basis to limit the issues caused to your communications by an emergency. Being from the New York area, we have all lived through enough of these emergencies to know that communications can make a difference. If you would like help in evaluating or have questions regarding your communications plan, contact Telecom Communications. Our staff is trained to know what you need.
P.S. While this post focused mainly on business, public safety needs to take precautions as well. Many of these tips are the same across both however, for more information for public safety read this blog post
Telecom Communications has recently launched our Google + page as another way to stay in touch with our clients and friends. Check us out and make sure to follow us for updates on new products, promotions, industry news and tips.
The end of summer is rapidly approaching. For children this mean no more beach days or running for hours in the neighborhood, for parents this means daytime quiet and order restored to the house but for school administrators this means a whole new school year with a whole new set of efficiency and budget issues.
With the economy being what it is and budgets being slashed year after year, it becomes a task of how to do more with less for less. Investing in the proper equipment can help with this. I'm sure by now you have heard about the mandatory F.C.C. Narrowbanding (if you haven't, read more about it here). One way to accomplish the conversion and streamline your operations in one felt swoop is to upgrade your equipment.
Wouldn't it be a dream to be able to communicate throughout your district, connect to your school buses and keep your students safer in the classroom while reducing operational costs? Well it isn't a dream. You can make it a reality. The Motorola MotoTRBO portfolio can help you and your organization achieve this dream. To learn more about MotoTRBO and it's impact on Education, check out this education application brief "MotoTRBO: Score High Marks for Schoolwide Safety". (to download the brief click here)
You will learn:
How to locate your staff, students and buses instantly
Prioritize communication immediately
Manage employee attendance and payroll automatically
Respond remotely with tracking applications
Connect your campus completely
Reduce operational costs
Communicate without disturbing others
Many districts have already deployed the MotoTRBO solution. To read about how one district did this click here.
Motorola Solutions, Inc. has recently announced their newest addition to the MotoTRBO family, the SL Series. This radio was designed to be the intersection between function and style. It is designed to get the work done without getting in the way. Here at Telecom we just received a few of these newest radios and I have to say, I have never seen anything like it. It is sleek, compact and elegant looking without losing the functionality of a MotoTRBO radio.
I was looking for some information to share with our readers on it and came across the video below. It will show you how the engineers designed the radio, how customer driven the design was, and you can hear some customer testimonials. Take a minute to watch the video and let us know what you think.
To learn more about the Motorola SL radio including some additional videos click here.
If you would like to see the SL series live contact us to set an appointment
Motorola has recently announced their newest addition to the MotoTRBO family, the XPR6100. This is an entry level MotoTRBO digital radio with crystal clear audio, digital performance and efficiency and a great price. It is voice centric and backwards compatibile with your traditional analog radios. This 32 channel portable radio is available in UHF anf VHF frequency bands and comes standard with an IMPRES Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery.
For more information on the Motorola XPR6100 click here
To learn more about the MotoTRBO product family visit http://www.telecomny.com/mototrbo/why_digital.htm
Mutualink, a company specializing in creating interoperable communities that are, at an instant, capable of sharing voice, text, radio, video, data and telephone communications in a secure environment, has published a knowledge brief discussing three key factors for effective interoperability. All of those involved in an incident, whether thay are field first responders, dispatch personnel, or crisis managers, must be ready at a moment's notice to respond: not just react. Effective communications allowing real-time collaboration is the most fundamental element in emergency situations. According to Mutualink, a successful system must be simple, flexible and familiar.
1. Simple - Any system must be very easy to use and intuitive.
2. Flexible - Every incident is different and requires different responses.
3. Familiar - In time-critical situations, all users must be able to communicate and then collaborate with methods that are second-nature to them.
To read their complete knowledge brief and hear about a real world working example click here
For more information on Mutualink click here
Motorola, in conjunction with School Transportation News is offering a free* webinar to help student transporters make sense of the FCC narrowbanding requirement that is set to go into effect January 1, 2013.
Date: January 26, 2012
Time: Noon (Eastern)
Where: Online Webcast
*Toll charges may apply. Webinar can be viewed online with audio enabled at no additional charge.
Here is the link to learn more about it or to register
You may also be interested in some previous blog posts we have written about Narrowbanding highlighting some important dates and information
This post is written in conjunction with Sean Sweeney, Public Safety Communication Specialist for Telecom Communications, Inc.
October is Fire Prevention Month, and a time of year when fire departments visit schools to talk about fire safety, smoke detectors and what to do in the event of a fire in the home. One item that is addressed is changing the batteries in your smoke detector. However, what about the batteries firefighters, EMS and Law Enforcement use? We need to change those from time to time, but we often forget. Batteries go bad, get abused, bounced around and when we think they have been recharged for the last time, we discard and purchase new ones. This doesn't have to be the case. You have options. Depending on the type of battery being used (impres vs. non-impres) you can either opt for a Battery Fleet Management System or a Battery Maintenance System (BMS). To learn more about impres technology click here.
IMPRES Battery Fleet Management
The IMPRES Battery Fleet Management system is transparent and allows your organization to manage hundreds or thousands of radio batteries and chargers wherever they may be located. It automatically and remotely retrives key battery data from any compatible IMPRES charger each time an IMPRES battery is inserted into the IMPRES charger. The information is collected and you choose whether you want to view predefined or user-customized reports. This will allow you to see a database of active batteries, purchase reports for batteries, lost battery report and more to keep communications reliable and productive. For more information on the IMPRES Fleet Management system, download this application brief.
Battery Maintenance System (BMS)
The Motorola Battery Maintenance System will analyze your battery (up to 6 at a time) and recondition them. Using interchangeable battery adapters (sold separately), the BMS Plus is capable of charging and discharging, analyzing, conditioning and cycle test on batteries. At the end, you will be able to see whether you need a new battery or if you can get more use out of them. This helps prevent you from discarding a battery that might last you for a few more months or even a year.
Batteries are not cheap, and wouldn't it be nice to have a little extra cushion in your budget when funds are not always available? By using one of the above systems and optimizing your batteries, you not only save money on replacing batteries that didn't need to be replaced, you also can budget for the replacement when they finally do give out.
I was recently talking to Richie Ciabattari, one of Telecom's top notch service technicians, and he was telling me how we get quite a few calls for service for simple fixes/checks that the customer can do themselves. So, I thought to myself, let's blog! Without further ado, here is Richie's advice for 3 things you can check before calling for service.
You hit the push-to-talk button on your two-way radio and something just isn't right. Your transmit and receive had been working just fine up until now. Hmmm, what do you do now? Before you call your local radio repair shop there are a few things you can/should check first.
1- Your radio doesn't turn on
Your radio is completely dead and will not power on at all. If it's a portable two-way radio check and make sure your battery is properly connected and charged. Try the battery in a radio you know is functioning. If it works then you will know it's a problem with the radio and you should contact radio repair. If it doesn't then you know it's a battery issue and most likely the battery needs to be replaced. Batteries normally have a usage life of 12-18 months, depending on the level of usage etc. (For more information about proper battery usage check out my previous blog about them. http://blog.telecomny.com/bid/60299/3-Tips-For-Proper-Two-Way-Radio-Battery-Usage) If it is your mobile two-way radio that won't power up at all, check to see if the fuses are working. If they are, call your local radio service shop.
2- There is static when you transmit or receive
Your radio is experiencing static, now what do you do? Well, if it's a mobile you're experienceing the issues with, check the microphone for a bad cord and/or connection. Also check to see if the antenna is missing or loose and don't forget to check the antenna connector on the radio to make sure it isn't loose. If it's your portable radio that is staticky, check to see if the antenna is loose and to see if the battery contacts are dirty. You can use a pencil eraser to clean the contacts. If none of those work, call your local radio repair.
3 - There is a beeping coming from your radio
You think you're losing your mind. You keep hearing this beeping noise and then it hits you. It's your radio. Make it stop, make it stop you scream but that doesn't help. So, if it's your mobile two-way that is sounding like it's on life support, there are four things to check. Make sure the mic isn't stuck in transmit mode, that the radio isn't powered off, that the channel selector has been programmed and finally that the programming information hasn't been lost. If you are dealing with a portable two-way that is beeping, check to see if the battery power is low, if there is a stuck button or if the programming information has been lost. If none of the above tips help clear up your issues then (let's say it together) "contact your local radio repair shop".
If you want to save money on your service requests, follow the link below and submit your request via our website. All website service requests will receive 10% off until December 31, 2011! (Make sure to put "blog" in the comments section of your request)
This post is written by Sean Sweeney, Public Safety Communication Specialist for Telecom Communications, Inc.
First an earthquake and now a major hurricane in the Atlantic? Are your communications prepared? Redundant communications are a key component of emergency preparedness and without it you could find yourself using smoke signals to communicate. This is important not only for public safety entities but also any organization dependent on communications for the safety and functionality of their employees. However for purposes of this blog, we will be concentrating on Public Safety in this discussion.
Here is a list of the "Top 6 Questions" you should ask yourself so that you are prepared if the lights go out.
1- Do you have redundant communications?
Do you have radios that do not rely on repeater systems? If so, great. They may only work in smaller areas, but it's better than nothing. Operating in direct mode, or Simplex, is an easy way to maintain communications during a power outage without a repeater.
2- Is your radio room on generator power?
If you aren't sure, it probably isn't. Your main base station needs to be on redundant power to maintain continuity of communications
3- Are your repeaters on battery back-up?
If you lose power, you lose your repeater system. If it isn't on an auxiliary power system, it should be. Even if the system is on power back-up, most repeaters go into "fail-safe" mode when a surge is detected. Do you know how to properly reset your repeater?
4 - Do you know how long your back-up will last if the power is out for days?
Auxiliary power systems are only designed to last a few hours, 18 hours in most cases. What is your plan if the power is out longer than this?
5- Do you have lightning protection for your antenna systems?
Most people forget about their antennas when planning on protecting their communications. A lightning strike to the antenna system can wipe out your communications. To minimize the risk and damage, you should have the proper protection, such as lightning arrestors and grounding, in place for this.
6 - Does your Mutual Aid have the ability to activate you and vice versa?
If you go down, who will activate your pagers and handle radio transmissions? Having a mutual aid agreement in place with surrounding departments and your county control points is an excellent way to ensure your communications continue.
These are not questions you should be asking yourself right now with the storm brewing, but if you haven't been thinking of these things, Telecom can help. We have a staff of qualified engineers who can evaluate your system and get you these answers. Arm yourself with Uninterrupted Power Supplies and redundant power supplies that transition seamlessly into your current system.
Be prepared because the public safety is our number one priority.
To set up an appointment to analyze your communication system preparedness click here
*Telecom Communications is a full-line Motorola dealer and most of the equipment mentioned above is available via the state or county contract
Photos used under creative commons from taigasylvan