Leveraging satellites, incident commanders have a reliable means of communicating with personnel in the field. This ensures real-time dissemination of information, so commanders’ can maintain situational awareness – vital for shaping a timely, appropriate response.
Emergency response planning
Ground personnel rely on vital information regarding population density, infrastructure, and environmental conditions. Satellite connectivity enables efficient data collection, analysis, and modeling, aiding effective response strategies and resource allocation.
Asset tracking and management
Real-time satellite-based asset tracking systems provide constant updates on the location and status of vehicles, equipment, and personnel. This optimizes resource management, boosts operational efficiency, and improves the safety of field team members.
Video and data transmission
Satellites facilitate seamless transmission of HD video and vital data from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and sensors, plus access to extensive reports, images and maps. Allowing real-time collaboration, swift decision-making, and remote guidance for on-site personnel.
COVERAGE & AVAILABILITY
As SATCOM systems leverage specific satellite constellations and services, it’s crucial to assess your agency’s operational zone to determine coverage and availability needs.
Coverage will depend on factors like satellite orbit position, antenna pointing accuracy, frequency used, and potential signal obstacles such as tall buildings or valleys. Key players like Iridium, Starlink, and Inmarsat offer global coverage (the latter excluding polar regions).
However, Starlink can suffer congestion-related slowdowns, while newer constellation OneWeb consistently covers the 35th parallel north, encompassing Canada, southern Europe, and northern USA, without speed fluctuations.
BANDWIDTH & LATENCY
Effective communication for first responders often extends beyond voice calls. Thus, teams must assess whether their SATCOM devices require capabilities like live video transmission. In such cases, prioritizing sufficient potential bandwidth and, where needed, low latency becomes essential.
Both Iridium and OneWeb constellations operate within Low Earth Orbit (LEO), resulting in reduced ping times due to closer satellite proximity to Earth’s surface. With latency as low as 70ms, emergency responders experience near real-time collaboration.
Inmarsat, SES and Intelsat support high bandwidth applications like video calling, but with constellations situated in geostationary orbit, there is a slight impact on latency.
RUGGEDNESS & MOBILITY
First responders often navigate challenging and unpredictable environments. Fortunately, SATCOM equipment can be ruggedized to endure demanding and rapidly changing conditions. Look for robust IP (ingress protection) ratings, and operating temperatures to ensure steadfast performance during critical moments.
If you need extremely swift deployment and setup, consider a case-based device like the MCD-4800, which allows responders to establish communications within seconds during emergencies.
The Kymeta Hawk u8 LEO, which attaches to vehicles, offers Satcom-on-the-move capabilities—an essential feature given that a recent survey showed 37% of first responders consider connected vehicles a top priority within the next five years.
Emergency response agencies need to assess both up-front and long-term costs; including equipment, airtime, training and support.
One thing to consider are dual-mode satellite and cellular devices like the Kymeta Hawk u8 LEO LTE, as these generally offer a more cost-effective airtime package.
Further, investigate discounts and flexibility in various data packages. At Ground Control, we provide exceptional, flexible rates for emergency responders, recognizing that airtime needs might be intermittent throughout the year.
Seamless communication between different agencies remains a top concern for our public safety officials, with 47% of surveyed first responders recognizing the significance of interoperability. Coordinated communication among federal, state, and local agencies is essential to prevent duplication and delays in rescue efforts.
With SATCOM systems, agencies can achieve interoperability in two main ways: 1. Employing an “interoperability gateway” or crossband repeater. 2. Utilizing Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) devices. Planning the “how” is essential from the outset.
The transmission of sensitive data is a crucial aspect of first responder operations. To safeguard this information, the chosen SATCOM service should prioritize network security and provide robust encryption features, to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the transmitted information.
Look for systems and services that offer end-to-end encryption, secure communication channels, and authentication mechanisms to protect data from unauthorized access. For instance, OneWeb’s service boasts military-grade network security, and some ground stations are even located within military installations.
SATCOM systems for first responders
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