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February 15

Help You Help Us-Too Many First Responders Let Down By Poor Indoor Wireless

Here at Zinwave, we talk a lot about the evolving workplace trend of using your smartphone as the preferred method of office communication. But, what if you’re a First Responder - firefighter or paramedic - and your workplace is a burning building, or a busy hospital, or chaotic arena? All of a sudden, making sure you have bars isn’t just a nice thing to have – but a matter of life and death.

We recently collaborated with the Safer Buildings Coalition (SBC) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) to survey more than 600 first responders on how important it is to have reliable wireless connectivity. The  Zinwave Public Safety Report revealed that 65 percent have had some sort of communications failure within the past two years while inside a building or another structure when responding to an emergency. In fact, many said this has happened in the last year.

So what can we do about it? Ensuring your indoor wireless solution can access FirstNet is an obvious first step. Deployed by the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), FirstNet will increase reliance on in-building cellular coverage. That’s because the FCC allocated LTE spectrum in the 700 band specifically for FirstNet.  AT&T has been selected to deploy and operate the network, and will use all their cellular bands to provide the service. That means having a full-spectrum solution – like Zinwave’s Public Safety DAS -  is more important than ever.

Because wireless devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) have become pervasive in our society, first responders will continue to rely on wireless mobile devices when performing their duties – whether it’s entering a building that’s on fire, calling in an emergency, or receiving building schematics on their device. To ensure first responders can do their jobs, it falls on building owners and developers to provide a system that can amplify the frequency most used by public safety officials. Besides FirstNet, 400Mhz and 800Mhz bands, as well as lower VHF and tactical frequencies, should also be supported to provide reliable coverage for first responders.

Having a separate system to boost LMR and cellular bands indoors is actually a mandate in many jurisdictions, but according to the Zinwave Public Safety Report, only 19 percent of them allow combined systems. Meanwhile, 26 percent said combined systems aren’t allowed, and 55 percent said they weren’t sure. This represents an opportunity for building owners to leverage some of their public safety booster system investment to improve cell coverage for all occupants, benefitting everyone.

Check out the complete Zinwave Public Safety Report for more details, as well as a deeper dive into why building owners should leverage a flexible, cost-effective and future-proof solution to provide both first responders and building occupants with the wireless connectivity they need.






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