A Shifting Focus of Public Safety Communication Heading Into 2022

A Shifting Focus of Public Safety CommunicationBy Dennis Burns, President of the SBC Board

Posted on December 21, 2021

Public Safety communication goes through many changes each year, but 2022 marks a major shift in what it means when we talk about public safety, in-building communications, and even the core focus of the Safer Buildings Coalition. Older versions of code included the term Emergency Responder Radio Communications Systems (ERRCS). Current code now refers to Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement Systems (ERCES). A small distinction with major impact.  The change recognizes that Emergency Responders use many forms of communication today, including cellular, LMR, DMR, and SMR. And the future looks to add private networks, Bluetooth, 5G and other technologies. Since the public uses many of these technologies, there is more and more synergy between the communication needs of the public (like being able to call 9-1-1) and those of public safety. 

This is supported by the latest Frontline Public Safety Communications Survey that found Smartphones have outpaced land mobile radio systems (LMRs) as the main communication tool, with 72% using these devices on the job every day, compared to 68% for LMRs. It is further exemplified by language in the new NFPA 1225, Standards for Emergency Services Communication, 2022 Edition, that completely moved away from language about radio and focused exclusively on first responder communications - whichever band they choose to communicate during a crisis.

This is beyond just code changes, it is a mindset shift happening among all public safety stakeholders, including law enforcement, to see LTE as one of the many bands for first responder communication. Police forces are already using public safety LTE today, and there will be a big push in 2022 to include it as part of ERCES in new and existing buildings. This is ultimately great for our communities as LTE helps provide more dynamic public safety communication for first responders including Enhanced 911, z-axis location accuracy, and much more to help coordinate responses to a crisis.

The mission of SBC is simple: help make new and existing buildings safer for inhabitants and first responders, enable the use of smartphones to contact emergency personnel, and provide enhanced location data to alert first responders of their whereabouts inside the building.  Building owners have the ability to leverage these benefits to upgrade their buildings to the latest codes and standards, so they can be safer and future-ready by installing the latest and greatest for first responder communications on all bands. What was once considered behind the scenes infrastructure will take a step to the forefront as buildings begin to market the safety inside their buildings for inhabitants and first responders.

We need your help in changing the industry perception of SBC as a LMR-only trade association. SBC is all in on every manner of communications that helps people stay connected inside buildings. The common connection point for this is the building owner and the funding model for shared infrastructure. By shared, I am not necessarily talking about a 100% converged solution. But rather, think of code requirements as a mandate to deploy versatile connectivity infrastructure inside buildings. This unifies the value proposition for building owners, occupants, First Responders, and the in-building wireless industry. When you think in those terms, SBC has a much larger vision and mandate, and we can do much more to move both the mission and the industry along. 

The ability to convince the market of SBC’s expanded scope is contingent upon us being able to convince YOU and your colleagues about what SBC is all about. Can we count on you? 

2022 will be an exciting time to be in the in-building wireless space, and the Safer Buildings Coalition  is leading the way to champion this change!  On behalf of SBC, we wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy Holiday season!

Dennis BurnsAbout the Author:
Dennis J. Burns is the President of the SBC Board of Directors, and Director of Public Safety at ADRF, in charge of the National Public Safety strategy for North America. His responsibilities at ADRF include developing the corporate public safety strategy and product solutions needed for Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement Systems (ERCES) to deliver maximum market share and revenue. He is also charged with enhancing the awareness of ADRF’s Public Safety products, technology, capabilities, deployments, and the overall ADRF brand.  In addition, he works closely with AHJs throughout the country to ensure ADRF has the right products and services to meet current requirements and any future changes within each jurisdiction.