Optimization is uncommon in Public Safety communications systems, which are often fine-tuned at the time of initial implementation and then left alone for their entire useful lives.
This section includes some suggestions for continuous improvement of the network.
Functional performance should be monitored, verified and improved as often as practical.
- Keep a formal log of users’ complaints. This will shed light on emerging issues such as changes in coverage performance due to urban construction or forest growth.
- Analyze traffic reports to identify changes and anomalies in system use and sites with capacity problems. Use this information to add channels or sites proactively.
- Keep up with market development and pay attention to your vendor’s software upgrade release notes.They can provide you with new operational or security functions.
Is your hardware and software up to date? Would upgrading some elements of the systems – for example base stations or servers – yield better performance or lower your costs?
It is common to see an organization go through the expense and disruption of the initial installation, but fail to take full advantage of system features or new improvements, for lack of commitment to ongoing training.
Training your users, technicians and administrators, and enforcing your standard operating procedures (SOPs) is vital to getting the most out of the system and user equipment you have invested in. Your initial training plan should include hands-on experience for all users, together with scheduled repeats and refresher courses.
Review your SOPs regularly, asking these questions:
- Is your system used in the best way?
- Are all the right people involved in standard communications procedures?
- Are some people involved, who should not be?
- Do some procedures put an unnecessary burden on users and slow down the exchange of information?
Are you paying more than you need, to other parties? Here are some aspects to consider that may substantially reduce your operating costs.
- You bought your system several years ago and agreed to pay a local TelCo a high rate for the backhaul. Since then, new providers offer less expensive alternatives so switching providers may be feasible.
- You bought your system and radios from the same vendor and you are still paying a premium for new subscriber units. You may be able to negotiate a lower cost or purchase from another vendor.
- You are paying for a comprehensive, long-term maintenance agreement. You may be better re-examining its scope and dividing it, with separate software license agreements, and a service agreement with your local competent provider.
The opinions of your users are well worth considering. User satisfaction surveys are virtually unheard of among Public Safety organizations, yet conducting simple surveys regularly encourages people to voice their opinions – they will often generate ideas to improve your SOPs, or identify training needs.
Encryption practices and related SOPs benefit from periodic reviews. For example, your system may have started with everyone using encryption, but two years later, some groups barely use it, others have never changed the key, and new groups need encryption but do not know how to manage it.
A regular review gives you the information and opportunity to maintain good processes and get the maximum benefit from your encryption.
Encryption and other security measures will be covered in a separate P25 Best Practice Guide.
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