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Guest Column

Benefits of CDMA Mobile Data for Homeland Security

Mike Iandolo
Vice President of CDMA/TDMA Product Management

Events over the past decade have prompted a renewed interest in Homeland Security, and an urgent need for a secure and interoperable communications infrastructure to support this national initiative. The United States government’s role in addressing the communications issues surrounding public safety presents monumental challenges that focus on the following:

Given a broad range of needs across a base that includes public safety workers, government field workers and government mobile professionals, it has become a collective necessity to have immediate and secure access to cross-jurisdictional communications, information and data while responding to an emergency situation. CDMA2000® is fully capable of delivering secure solutions that address these specific needs. To demonstrate this, consider the following fictitious crisis incident.

Crisis Scenario
A major railroad derailment within site of the Capitol Building has occurred. While the cause is yet unknown, international terrorist threats have been received. Thus, an incident commander needs to seriously consider the possibility of a follow-on attack. Cross-jurisdictional communication is required. Local resources are quickly overloaded trying to respond to the current crisis while managing potential follow on threats. Neighboring agencies require common communications for rapid, coordinated action. Injuries require first responder personnel to work with multiple trauma centers in the district. The possibility of a toxic fluid and gas leak requires cargo inventory and precautionary procedures and information to be downloaded on demand. Given the high potential for fire, wireless sensory units are deployed to monitor danger areas. Tracking the movement and location of fire departments is critical to efficiently route emergency personnel to the scene. Public safety agencies need to effectively coordinate responses with an interactive, cross-jurisdictional communications and information system to manage situational awareness and distribution of information. So how can CDMA2000 deliver solutions better than other technologies?

CDMA Provides Key Benefits
Try envisioning the ultimate Public Safety wireless network of networks. What would be the main tenets of its foundation? Security, spectral efficiency and system reliability are certainly fundamental elements. But in the end, Public Safety wireless networks must leverage the core technology of commercial wireless systems and be augmented by features required to support the unique mission of Public Safety / Homeland Security goals. Such a vision requires technology that encapsulates data-rich applications, high security, interoperability, mission critical capabilities, and can provide a low total cost of ownership. CDMA2000 fits this bill very well.

A Powerful Range of Data Intensive Applications
Today’s CDMA cellular networks support a wide range of advanced communication capabilities delivering voice, cutting-edge data and multimedia capabilities across a broader range of jurisdictions, using non-proprietary commercial technology. As a result, key personnel can communicate faster and more effectively in emergency situations, with an increased opportunity to save lives and minimize additional risks to the public. Spread spectrum mobile technology supports full-featured voice services, geolocation services, push-to-talk, faster download of photos, maps and other graphics, and streaming audio and video, as well as broadcast/multicast services providing highly efficient ways to facilitate team-based communications. These data intensive applications are just not possible using limited bandwidth and low speed data solutions. However, the power of 3G spread spectrum technology is that it is able to match capabilities to crisis management needs as illustrated in our crisis scenario.

Spread Spectrum Security
Spread spectrum technology provides inherent and supportable elements of security and privacy. Firstly, CDMA signals are more difficult to tap than TDMA, GSM/GPRS or Analog signals. Multiple cells simultaneously supporting a call make it very difficult to follow the CDMA cellular call. Additionally, the CDMA air interface is robust against casual eavesdropping protecting session information via end-to-end encryption. System resources are protected via multiple layers of authentication and authorization of users with long code mask providing built-in security at the physical layer. To date, CDMA2000 has not fallen victim to attacks and there are no known and commercially available CDMA interception devices.

Ubiquitous, standards-based technology provides many benefits over proprietary-based solutions. Leveraging mainstream, commercial technology allows for extensive re-use of standardized data communication protocols, products, and application software. Additionally, commercially available, “off-the-shelf” technology utilizing industry standards enables interoperability between vendor’s equipment. In a time where multi-vendor environments are the norm, full interworking among increasingly complex networks of legacy and disparate systems is absolutely critical. Finally, commercially available technology supports cross-jurisdictional communications, enabling public safety agencies to communicate more effectively across disciplines and jurisdictions. Full interoperability is provided with Public Safety Wireless Systems, wireline systems supporting IP interfaces—and any system using Public Switched Telephone Network interfaces. In times of emergency, the ability to communicate seamlessly with key resources is critical, and commercial networks provide today’s broadest range of interoperability for responders’ mobile devices.

Enhanced Economy and Innovation
As a result of wide-ranging competitive activity, mainstream mobile technology can deliver a growing range of new capabilities, more cost effectively. Economies of scale help drive down expenses for network elements, mobile devices and development of innovative features. Wide deployment also encourages ongoing product development and support—and helps maintain a commitment to the open standards that allow interoperability and application innovation.

Mission Critical Capabilities
Earlier this year, the United States government SAFECOM committee produced a wireless communications requirements document to outline core capabilities that should be present in future Public Safety Wireless networks. The goal of the SAFECOM Program is to improve public safety response through more effective and efficient interoperable wireless communications. As such, the SAFECOM committee defined several mission critical capabilities essential in allowing public safety agencies to talk across disciplines and jurisdictions via communications systems, exchanging voice and / or data with one another on demand, in real time, when needed. A subset of these capabilities include:

  • High security
  • Interoperability across jurisdictions and frequency bands
  • High quality communications and performance end to end
  • “Off the shelf technology” that is spectrally efficient and has a low Total Cost of Ownership

Commercially available spread spectrum wireless networks deliver on all of these points and more, today. Most of the nation’s first responders could be made fully interoperable, at a minimum cost in a very short time. Future funding of a privately held Public Safety Wireless network will leverage the economies of scale and operating experiences of the current networks.

In conclusion, CDMA technology provides compelling benefits over alternative solutions in the marketplace. Public Safety Wireless networks need to fully support the delivery of cutting-edge data and multimedia capabilities across a broad range of jurisdictions, providing government agencies with anytime, anywhere communications. Real life experience is increasingly demonstrating that CDMA2000 can meet these needs TODAY.

CDMA2000 is a registered trademark of the Telecommunications Industry Association

About the Author

Mr. Iandolo is Vice President of CDMA/TDMA Product Management for Lucent Technologiesí Mobility Solutions with more than 25 years of experience in the global telecommunications industry. In his current position, Mr. Iandolo is responsible for the product line strategy and market development for Lucentís wireless infrastructure equipment based on CDMA and TDMA standards.

From 1997 through 1999, Mr. Iandolo was Executive Director of AirLoop Product Management and Marketing for Lucent Technologies; a high-end wireless local loop product based on CDMA technology providing wireline quality voice and data services. In 1998, he led the successful introduction of the first commercial AirLoop product, winning major contracts in Poland and Saudi Arabia.

Prior to 1997, Mr. Iandolo led several new business ventures for Lucent Technologies in international military communications and electronic fingerprint identification systems. Early in his career, he directed the development of advanced technologies for special US government customers where his teams achieved significant breakthroughs in signal processing, automated signal detection and characterization, neural network technologies, and artificial intelligence.

Mr. Iandolo received his MS Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and his BS Degree in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University.



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