Large multi-agency P25 networks demand significant active administration, but even small networks require proper set-up and active management.
In the majority of Public Safety systems, network configuration changes are infrequent. The system is built, configured with assistance from the vendor and seldom changed without external help. Whenever sites, channels or dispatch positions are added, or backhaul network altered, the vendor is likely to be involved. This can result in system operators lacking network configuration knowledge.
But radio systems are changing. This evolution makes network configuration skills and related processes paramount. Instead of single vendor hardware, they are much more software-driven and include inter-dependent sub-systems from different vendors.
A system should have at least one person fully versed in network configuration, even if, due to the increased complexity, it may be better still to rely on assistance from vendors for any major changes.
While network configuration changes may be relatively infrequent, adding or removing subscribers, status changes or access to specific functions can be a daily event. Inter-system interoperability means the skills necessary to successfully manage subscriber units on the network side are growing in complexity and importance.
At the same time, subscriber unit programming is becoming increasingly complex, due to greater functionality and the fact that many systems have equipment from multiple vendors.
P25 programming is not yet standardized. System keys or advanced system keys preventing unauthorized cloning, programming or network access, vary between vendors. If you have different types of radios on one network, becoming proficient in programming different radio models is challenging and time-consuming, so you need to factor in the cost of this.
Dispatchers and consoles
Regardless of your maintenance arrangements, the equipment at the heart of your day to day business is your dispatch consoles. This is one of the major functions for any system operator – directing traffic, allocating tasks, identifying technical or safety issues.
From their vantage point, dispatchers are the eyes and ears of your system. They may identify problems with the network or at the user end – unhappy users are quick to let them know there is a problem.
Once considered a weak point in the P25 standard, the recent development of CSSI (Console Sub System Interfaces) standard has defined console interconnection to the system.
Time spent understanding your console options will result in better, future-proof decisions.
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