March 17, 2017 bktech

Luck of the P25 Radio: Compatibility With Existing Systems

Project 25’s (P25) compatibility with existing systems is a valuable characteristic. The design serves agencies and local government offices still operating on legacy software and hardware. Because P25 works with the internal programming of existing radios, these offices are able to continue services without interruption. Today, compatibility offers public safety agencies access to the latest technology with the ability to budget the transition of old equipment. Proof of its compatibility is its use by federal, state and local public safety offices in the U.S. and Canada.  

The basic requirement behind P25’s concept is based on innovation of the next generation. The design allows the mingling of analog and digital systems. The purpose is to maintain public safety operations using compatibility as an effective management tool gradually, replacing outdated radios and infrastructure equipment.  P25 standards involve digital Land Mobile Radio (LMR) services, using an open architecture system- the standard interfaces with operations. The benefits for the agencies are improvements in operations and a measured investment in current technology with a clear vision of the future.

Compatibility Workings of P25

The open architecture makes it easier for older systems to add, upgrade and trade out components without affecting its performance.  Existing radios transmit information and the receivers pass the information forward.  The objectives in compatibility environments provide the following:

  • Extending the equipment lifecycle using open systems architecture
  • Maintaining reliable intra-agency and inter-agency communications
  • Connection to new technology improves functionality and capabilities for public safety  
  • Interoperability with compatible P25 standards allow users of multiple agencies to communicate directly without loss or interruption of transmission.  

Trusted Security and Encryption Options

Encryption options are available with P25. The function is to secure and protect both voice and data communications. The option allows the user to select encrypted or un-encrypted transmissions.  This application pertains to radio networks.  The system’s manager can remotely change the encryption keys in the field – industry refers to this application as Over the Air Re-Keying (OTAR). It heightens the level of operational security; ensuring communications are isolated when required. If you follow law enforcement conditions, this feature is critical to mission success in some situations.

Improved Function Quality with Compatibility

P25’s design understood the need for continuous improvements and focused on compatibility to instigate change.  Here is how it functions.  Analog wireless systems carry the information in the form of AM or FM frequencies.  Digital systems convert the analog signal to a digital data stream known as an algorithm, which contains the step-by-step set of operations to perform the function of transmission.  Since algorithms vary, P25’s compatibility standards maintain consistency. Further improvements to the radios include programmable emergency settings and GPS functions for managing fleets and personnel.  GPS is a reliable feature for incidents happening in remote areas. Noise control is always an issue; P25 capability feature minimizes the background sounds transmitting clear audio communications.

P25’s goal is to uphold public safety through compatibility, matching industry compliance using open architectural standards.  Developed with industry agreements P25 generation features include:

  • Enabling affordable capability evolution  
  • Sustaining legacy lifecycle through transition
  • Simplifying system integration  
  • Isolating the effects of change  
  • Continuous innovation developments

Industry standards

Looking to the future, P25’s conceptual group monitors the changes and standards needed for public safety professionals and equipment manufacturers. Innovation and evolution go hand in hand in developing effective use of technologies to maintain P25 standardization process.

The P25 standards require a variety of interoperability, configurations and compatibility of services necessary to the public safety community. The features are obligated to match the level of standards imposed by public offices and government agencies. Feature compliance pertaining to software and hardware platforms ensures reliable and consistent communications, even under the most severe conditions.

Among the offices monitoring P25 compliance standards are government agencies, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Offices – International (APCO), dedicated to public safety along with the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), USA serving trade and information technology industries.  All three organizations participate in the public safety standards.

Conclusion

The reliability and accuracy of communications are critical to public safety officials.  Open systems architecture offer great opportunities for innovation, while driving down the cost of new equipment over-time.  As a leader in digital radio techniques, P25 is simplifying the process by design. Contact our offices with any questions about upgrading and transitioning your radios and systems today.

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