Building The Connected Airport - The 5 C’S Of Radio Communications

Passenger Jet Image for Radio Communications ArticleDespite the surge in smartphone use in the workplace, two-way radios have remained the dominant technology for push-to-talk communications, this is particularly apparent when you consider the many hundreds or thousands of workers at an airport. Why is this? Two-way radios are designed for the job. Not only are they rugged and durable, with extremely long battery life and loud, clear audio but they also offer a secure and reliable network in a time when we are facing the need for heightened security and communication simply cannot fail.

From check-in desks through to security, boarding gates and the runway themselves your users may work in high noise environments, on extended shifts, outdoors in the hot and cold, or in dangerous environments that require intrinsically safe devices.

Different use cases may require devices that can be used with gloves, include displays or operate hands free. Supervisors may not carry a radio but need to inter-operate with radio users from a smartphone. Purpose- built radios designed for specific use cases can meet all of these needs balancing the practicalities of sometimes harsh working environments with the need for a sleek design for passenger-facing employees. From extra loud speakers, noise-canceling microphones, glove friendly ergonomics, extreme temperature ratings, purpose built accessories, intrinsically safe models to integrated smartphone PTT applications such as WAVE PTT that ensures individuals and teams are connected regardless of the device they are using.

"Airports are a major economic sector in Europe generating 4.1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Europe and employing 12.3 million people ...."

InterVISTA, Economic Impact of Europen Airports, January 2015

The 5 Cs are the basics of what makes Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) such a widely-used communications tool, with more than 40 million two-way radios in use globally.

airport1 the 5cs of radio communication lor2

COVERAGE - designed to meet specific
requirements, whether it is a single terminal or
a multi site airport facility encompassing offsite
parking, aeroplane hangars and maintenance
facilities as well as multiple passenger and
cargo terminals and on to the runways.

5cs 1
5cs 2 CAPACITY - engineered to address peak
usage, using dedicated licensed spectrum
and right-sized to each airport’s specific
needs – so calls always get through.
COST - predictable costs, with no
additional airtime fees like those
associated with commercial mobile
phone networks.
5cs 3
5cs 4 CONTROL - high degree of control over system
requirements, design, priorities, security,
and operation – allowing a system to be
configured for a specific use case.
CAPABILITIES - features and capabilities that
enable safety and productivity for users
such as location services, added encryption/
security, text messaging, telemetry, radio
programming and other enhanced features.
5cs 5

Efficiency and Productivity Capabilities (data applications)Modern, IP-enabled digital radio systems offer data capabilities. Radio systems might not offer broadband data speeds, but they allow you to deliver data services within your custom designed coverage area, with the capacity you need, without facing additional data airtime cost and give you exactly the control you need. So with data capabilities, what more can you do?Motorola Airport Communications Image

  • Query databases, identify (price, inventory, licensing), stock codes, (price, inventory, licensing)
  • Monitor biometric data such as the heart rate of workers, by connecting sensors to radios via Bluetooth
  • Send status alerts, call outs and text messages (free form and one-touch canned messaging)
  • Coordinate work order tickets for example sending aircraft engineers or cleaning services to a plane immediately after it has touched down to ensure fast turnaround times
  • Keep track of your staff and assets using locations services (such as GPS outdoors, Bluetooth locations sensors indoors)
  • Set up telemetry and SCADA to let your machines talk to each other to maintain everyday operations and quickly identify security breaches
  • Manage your fleet of radios over-the-airv

Secure Communication Capabilities
Security is a big topic these days, especially for airports. With PMR you control who can listen to your voice and data traffic. In addition there are many security features to secure your voice and data traffic, from business level secure voice encryption to government certified end-to-end encryption with features such as over-the-air encryption key management in TETRA systems. Trusted by tactical teams and government organisations, TETRA secures the most sensitive data.

airport1 the 5cs of radio communication lor4

Safety and Reliability Capabilities
In terms of safety, PMR really shines with its heritage in public safety communications and features like: prioritisation to clear communications channels during emergencies, dedicated emergency buttons on radios to call for help and man-down and lone-worker features to keep your workforce safe. To be safe, your communications must be reliable. Your calls need to always get through so there are features built in to make sure calls are prioritised and radio traffic is load balanced. In case of a mobile network overload, you need to be sure your staff will be able communicate on their radio network or in direct mode. Systems can be designed to be resilient from redundant backhaul links at remote radio sites to redundant system controllers and back-up power. Plus radio always has the fall-back of direct mode/simplex/talkaround operation so communications can occur directly between radios in a peer to peer fashion without the need for infrastructure.

New MOTOTRBO firmware and features (R2.3 & R1.12)

This week Motorola Solutions officially launched a new version of MOTOTRBO firmware in the EMEA region, which introduces a number of new and useful features. Known as System Release 2.3*, the new firmware includes the following:

Digital Voting.** Using multiple Satellite Receivers (receive-only repeaters) to relay radio transmissions to a central Voting Repeater it is now possible to increase the talk-in range of a MOTOTRBO radio site. The Satellite receiver passes audio and signal information to the Voting Repeater. The Voting Repeater then evaluates the inbound data from these Satellite Receivers and repeats the strongest one.

AES Privacy.** Uses 256 bit encryption keys to protect voice and data messages using the well known AES algorithm.

CSBK Data. It is now possible for a radio to send a single unconfirmed CSBK burst containing ARS, GPS or XCMP data. This results in improved data communication performance and communication reliability. In the past, (i.e. without CSBK Data) it was possible to send a maximum of around 360 GPS updates per slot. Based on the same parameters and using CSBK data, it is now possible to achive around 1808 GPS updates per slot - a five fold increase!

Radio Management R1.2. A number of improvements have been made to the Radio Management (RM) application.

Capacity Plus Enhancement. Support for up to 8 trunking repeaters, or a total of 12 repeaters including Data Revert. The maximum number of repeaters remains unchanged for Linked Capacity Plus.

SL4000 Series Remote Telemetry. Support for telemetry Encode (via programmable button) and Telemetry Text Message Decode. Note that there is no support for VIOs on the SL4000 series.

Flexible RX Group List. A list of up to 16 Talkgroups (TG) which the user can edit (Add/Remove). This list is available only for Capacity Plus and Linked Capacity Plus systems and is addition to the standard (non-editable) list Rx List.

Permanent Bluetooth Discoverable Mode.** This allows the Bluetooth(TM) transciever in the radio to be put into a “Always On Mode” thus allowing the ability of the radio to be tracked indoors using Bluetooth(TM) waypoints and a 3rd party application.

CPS Read Write Password Protection: The CPS now also applies the read password when writing the codeplug back to the radio.

MPT1327 Analogue Trunking. An option board solution introduced for the DP and DM4000 Series radios. The MPT1327 option board can be purchased as an aftermarket accessory and installed in the field, alternatively certain radio models can be ordered containing factory fitted MPT1327 option boards.

Work Ticket Management. This functionality has now been ported to the DP and DM4000 display models. Additionally the radios are able to detect duplicate Job Tickets and transmit all non-GPS data (which includes Job Tickets) on a Linked Capacity Plus Data Revert channel in accordance with the CPS configured data call confirmed parameter. Previously all data an LCP Data Revert channel was transmitted as unconfirmed and this impacted the success rate for Job Ticket responses.

Repeater configuration for Connect Plus. A new Repeater CPS configuration mode which is dedicated to Connect Plus system support.

Various enhancements to XCMP. Application Development Partners should refer to the latest ADK documents and training materials for details.

Motorola will also stop supporting (including field support) Windows XP and Vista from the end of 2013 for all professional and Commercial products (including tools). Motorola has added support for Windows 8 starting this year.

Together with this, a new version of CPS, Radio Management, Tuner and RDAC have been released. This software, together with the required upgrade packages can be found on Motorola Online.

The following are the latest software packages:

  • CPS R10.0 (Build 510)
  • Air Tracer R7.5 (Build 27)
  • Tuner R10.5 (Build 158)
  • Radio Management 1.2
  • RDAC R5.0 (Build 69)
  • DDMS R03.11.5000
  • MNIS R02.30.5000
  • MCDD R2.1.3

At the same time, System Release 1.12 for the first generation of MOTOTRBO radios, has been released. Although there are no new features in this release, a few reported issues have been resolved. For more information, please refer to the release notes.

The latest firmware versions are as follows:

  • DP1000 Series Portables R01.00.00
  • DP2000 Series Portables R02.30.01
  • DP3441 Portables R02.30.01
  • DP4000 Series Portables R02.30.01
  • DP4000Ex Series Portables R02.30.01
  • SL4000 Series Portables R02.30.01
  • DM1000 Series Mobiles R01.00.00
  • DM2000 Series Mobiles R01.00.00
  • DM4000 Series Mobiles R02.30.01
  • DR 3000 Repeaters R02.30.01
  • MTR3000 Repeaters R02.30.01
  • DP 3000 Series Portables R01.12.01
  • DM 3000 Series Mobiles R01.12.01

* Note that the above listed features are not supported in the first generation MOTOTRBO radios (i.e. DP3000 and DM3000 series).

** These features are premium features, requiring the purchase of a licence.

Enterprise-Wide Push-to-Talk and the Marriage of Radios With Smart Devices

With more than a billion smartphones in use worldwide, the impact these devices have made on our working and private lives is profound. Yet despite this meteoric rise in the use of smartphones and other mobile computing devices, IT managers across many industries — at public safety organizations in particular where poor communications can cost lives and at enterprises reliant on mobile teams — have been slow to adopt the use of these devices for mission- or business-critical push-to-talk (PTT) communications.

Workers already carry smartphones for a variety of tasks other than voice communications—from cloud storage access to mapping to email. But the ability to talk to one another remains the most important form of communication and when businesses can make it simpler for their employees to talk, they should do so. Problematically, organizations do not harness the full potential of smartphones as PTT devices.

In part, this is because many enterprises already have other PTT systems in place, such as land mobile radio (LMR) or carrier-based proprietary PTT networks like Sprint’s now-defunct iDEN. Since smartphones have traditionally been disconnected from these older systems, these businesses have been unable to take advantage of them to create a truly enterprise-wide, voice communications network. Too often, the result is a fragmented communications ecosystem in which, despite of the ubiquity of various, powerful communications devices, one team cannot instantly talk to another due simply to device or network incompatibility.

For organizations to reach peak efficiency, all teams should be able to communicate instantly and seamlessly, without barriers caused by such incompatible devices or networks. But because organizations so often rely on LMR (i.e., two-way radio) systems for PTT, they are often unable to achieve this kind of instant, enterprise-wide connectivity.

As a stand-alone system, radio networks are not the ideal communications solution many are made to believe. Their proprietary nature means that they are not naturally interoperable with other systems, even with other radio systems. They are also purely single-function devices, restricted to only voice communications. Radio networks are moreover limited by geographic reach and cannot effectively link workers spread over the entire footprint of an organization. And yet many organizations do not want to simply replace these radio systems because they continue to be useful devices in certain situations where rugged, durable or intrinsically safe tools are necessary.

This prevailing idea that users must choose between systems based entirely on radio or entirely on smart devices is misleading. A third option is available that lets organizations continue to use radio systems while connecting them to smartphones and other, newer devices. It is possible to extend the reach of older, legacy systems so that two-way radio users can reach others outside of their radio network and connect to staff carrying smart devices—from BlackBerry devices, to iPhones, to Windows-based smartphones and more.

Given this, there is no reason that organizations should limit their PTT infrastructure to LMR systems — not when they can be connected to more powerful devices and networks that allow for PTT that extends across an enterprise, rather than being limited only to small, local user groups.

Of course, incumbent technology vendors will attempt to dissuade customers from abandoning existing technology. But radio systems alone do not and should not define mobile workforce communications for the enterprise — they are often unaffordable to maintain or upgrade and, on their own, are incapable of delivering PTT throughout an entire enterprise.

Instead, the goal of communications systems should be interoperability. This means that organizations can continue to use legacy devices when necessary, made possible by available software that effectively and securely unites all of these disparate devices and networks — radio systems, smartphones and tablets, desktop and laptop PCs and more — under one roof. Dispatchers on a desktop, for example, can manage PTT channels for users carrying any combination of two-way radios and smartphones.

This type of enterprise-wide PTT — where everyone from management to office workers to field teams has real-time access to one another regardless of location, device or network — is game-changing for enterprise communications. Take, for instance, the many organizations today already benefitting from this technology. U.S. military and government agencies, large multi-national hospitality chains, public safety organizations, oil and gas producers and others are all using software such as Twisted Pair’s WAVE to ensure that all critical teams can communicate with one another without boundaries of device or network.

Very rarely do organizations have the chance to bridge old and new technology to create a more powerful solution than was previously available. Enterprises that have long relied on two-way radios or carrier PTT networks must realize that these systems alone are no longer adequate in an environment where much more powerful communications devices are available. Without the need to face an either/or choice between legacy systems and smartphones, organizations are free to pick the devices and networks best-suited for their teams’ needs.

The vast array of devices available to workers today should make work easier — not more complicated. Creating enterprise-wide PTT, where any employee can communicate with any other — regardless of device, network, location or job title — does just that.

James Mustarde is responsible for marketing at Twisted Pair Solutions.

Motorola Heritage

Motorola Heritage

Discover Motorola's heritage through the stories behind some of our biggest innovations. A true pioneer in radio, Motorola provided communications for police in the early years of two-way radio communication and invented the world's first portable cellular phone system. Learn more right here.

1940: Creating the Handie-Talkie Radio

Motorola traces its origins of portable two-way radio technology to the World War II Handie-Talkie military radio. Prior to the U.S. entering the war, Galvin Manufacturing Corporation anticipated the need for a handheld portable two-way radio that would “follow man in combat.”

Anticipating the need

The most famous radio of the World War II era, the Handie-Talkie SCR536 handheld two-way radio, almost never came to be. Former Motorola President Elmer H. Wavering recalled that engineer Donald Mitchell recognized the strategic value of portable communications after he observed a National Guard training exercise and saw how radios installed in vehicles were abandoned in the mud and confusion of battle. He returned to the company convinced that military communications had to follow man to the greatest degree possible and immediately began to engineer a radio that could be carried in the hand.

Motorola Handie-TalkieDesigning a portable radio

The U.S. Army Signal Corps was not interested and considered it a stopgap radio because of its short range of about one mile (1.6 km). But Mitchell continued to improve the design. He and his team developed a two-way AM radio that a single person could carry and operate with one hand. Tuned using sets of crystals for transmitting and receiving, it was battery-powered and weighed just 5 pounds (2.2 kg). The Signal Corps soon realized that the light weight was ideal for a new type of soldier--the paratrooper--and by early 1941 awarded Galvin Manufacturing Corporation a contract for an experimental quantity.

In the soldier's hands

When the United States entered the war in December 1941, the company stepped up production to ship thousands of radio units to the front lines. Handie-Talkie radiotelephones became standard equipment for infantrymen as well as for paratroopers. By the time World War II ended, Motorola's handheld SCR536 Handie-Talkie two-way radio was an icon.Motorola Handie-Talkie Poster

1943: Connecting Soldiers in the Field

When the U.S. Army Signal Corps needed a longer-range radio for front-line troops, Galvin Manufacturing Corporation responded with the SCR300 model, the world's first FM portable two-way radio.

A need for military FM radios

During World War II, the U.S. Army Signal Corps undertook a series of tests to settle the debate whether AM or FM radios had better voice quality over distances. They tested radios that were exactly the same except for AM or FM circuitry under the same field conditions. They concluded that the quality of voice transmission over FM was superior to that over AM. With FM, the signal was not subject to static interference from motors or other electrical sources.

To a radio operator in a fast-moving tank or jeep, this was a wonderful improvement over AM sets that were nearly useless in these situations. To the foot soldier, FM meant clearer communications on the front lines. And to have a radio that was both FM and portable was "the infantryman's dream."

Building on experience

Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, which already was experienced in building Motorola FM mobile two-way radios for police cars, submitted an FM portable radio for testing. The model SCR300 radio, designed by Daniel E. Noble to work in the very high frequency (VHF) band, proved superior over other manufacturers' radios.

The 35-pound (15.9-kilogram) backpack radio had a range of 10 miles (16 kilometers) or more, could be tuned to various frequencies within the 40-48 MHz range using only one pair of crystals, and had remarkable frequency stability.

The SCR300 radio also met military requirements including simplicity of use and assurance that the time of day, weather conditions and geographical location would not affect the range of the signal.

World’s first FM portable two-way radio

The SCR300 radio, the first and only portable FM radio used by infantry soldiers, was used widely throughout Europe and the Pacific. The walkie-talkie, as it was called, provided critical radio links at Anzio, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Normandy. One general declared that the SCR300 radio was the most useful communications radio employed in the Battle of the Bulge, and helped turn the tide of battle in favor of the Allies.

Beginning production in 1943, Galvin Manufacturing Corporation made more than 45,000 units before the war ended in 1945.