Mobile app turns smartphones into “virtual radios” for first responders
In an emergency, every second counts, and communication between various emergency services and government agencies can be of critical importance. While proven to be effective, current systems such as Land Mobile Radio (LMR) can still leave gaps in the lines of communications. However, a new mobile app developed by U.S. defense contractor and industrial corporation Raytheon aims to close some of those gaps by enabling first responders to communicate without LMR. The app is part of the company's Interoperability Communications Suite which aims to enhance interoperability between LMR radios, landline, VoIP phones, and P25 systems via ISSI, and 4G/LTE.
Rather than replace existing communications tools, Raytheon’s software is designed to complement the traditional methods used to facilitate communication between government agencies and emergency workers.
“These devices essentially become ’virtual radios‘ with the new application and greatly reduce communications gaps for first responders,” said TJ Kennedy, director of Public Safety and Security for Raytheon’s Network Centric Systems. “It also allows personnel to reach back to their home network from anywhere in the world that they have PC, tablet or smartphone access.”
Raytheon's app allows the user to establish direct voice communications with architects, building engineers and other knowledgeable people who could provide valuable real-time information, without those people being required to access the public safety radio network via LMR—an improvement which could potentially make the difference between life and death.
The app enables a commander to monitor and communicate to a responding unit through his or her PC or mobile device, even when the commander is out of range of the LMR coverage. When commanders are within coverage, the app can still prove useful as it allows less important chatter to take place without using up valuable communications channels.
Raytheon hasn't yet clarified exactly with which devices its mobile app will be compatible, but the company's choice of words seems to indicate a desire to support multiple popular devices.