Communication plays an important role in both regular police and first responder services as well as in rescue and relief operations during emergency or disaster situations, especially in a country like India, a country i.e., highly prone to natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, coastal cyclones and manmade ones such as accidents etc.
In view of addressing the growing importance of effective digital communications infrastructure for mission critical services, COAI, the apex industry association representing leading Telecom, Internet, Technology and Digital Services companies along with Nokia organized a special session to discuss the issues, challenges and solutions for communications to be provided for Mission Critical Services. This event brought forward some key issues on this crucial subject, as India in recent months witnessed multiple requirements for Public Protection and Disaster Management that included, in addition to routine police work, the pandemic, mass migration to villages and also various cyclones in different parts of the country.
The webinar witnessed the welcome note by Lt. Gen Dr. SP Kochhar, DG, COAI followed by presentation of Marc Balliet, Public Sector Solutions (Enterprise), Global, Nokia on LTE for Mission Critical Services. The online event also had a panel discussion on the issue with the participation of experts on the subject including Pranav Jha, Professor, IIT Bombay, Brig. Ajay Gangwar, Advisor, Operations and Communications, NDMA, and Randeep Raina, CTO, Nokia
Currently, public safety and first responder agencies such as police department, fire department, medical teams and armed forces largely rely on Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) networks based on legacy technologies such as TETRA, P25 or old analog systems for their communication in the field, which are primarily meant for voice communications. The current framework has resulted in fragmented spectrum assignments with an inefficient use of precious and prime sub-GHz frequency. LTE or 4G based wireless broadband networks are a good option and can be deployed to substantially enhance the efficiencies in PPDR work.
Commenting on the subject of the webinar, Lt. Gen Dr. SP Kochhar, Director General, COAI said “Keeping in mind the developments in wireless broadband technologies such as LTE, it is time we exploit these to enhance the efficiencies of the current communications infrastructure of PPDR agencies to enable them to use digital tools to meet the evolving needs of public safety and emergency communication, such as access to instant messaging, high-quality images and video, mapping and location services, remote control of robots, and other applications. Moreover, it has been observed that PPDR agencies have their individual networks in place, which work in silos. This issue needs to be urgently looked into and our industry is ready to provide the requisite support to these agencies to enable this.”
Adding further and sharing his views Randeep Raina, Chief Technology Officer, Nokia said “The current PPDR network infrastructure is unable to have seamless communication and information sharing among the PPDR agencies. This is because their networks are either not inter-operable or they are just not compatible with each other. India’s National Digital Communications Policy 2018 stresses on enhancing PPDR and establishing a Pan- India network for PPDR. To overcome current challenges, LTE for public safety network brings many advantages and provides host of services like IoT, Video streaming and is also scalable. LTE also promises interoperability, security with installed encryption on application level and is also suitable to support large ecosystem. We understand India wants to adopt LTE but spectrum availability is an issue, so we hope all stakeholders work in this direction to adopt new technologies.”