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November 15

Meeting the Code

It’s normal for business owners to put their focus on guest and tenant satisfaction, as it is important to the success of a business. However, a building owner shouldn’t allow satisfaction to outweigh safety. It’s critical, now more than ever, to make sure your building has adequate connectivity for not only your tenants and guests – but for first responders as well.

The need for reliable in-building connectivity is made clear by the fact that most 9-1-1 calls are being placed from cell phones inside buildings. But, when turning your attention to first responders – their ability to communicate in emergency situations is just as critical. It has become evident that there is a need for a unified system, or set of codes, that will standardize the frequencies required, ensuring that emergency responders can effectively communicate.

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  First responders' ability to communicate in emergency situations is critical.

Currently, jurisdictions are enforcing, or plan to enforce, fire codes published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and International Code Council (ICC) that will ensure reliable communication within buildings. As codes are mandated, it will be the responsibility of the building owner to provide reliable in-building wireless connectivity by deploying a system that can support all current and future public safety frequencies.

Building owners must also keep in mind that FirstNet, the first high-speed, nationwide broadband network dedicated to public safety, is in the beginning stages of implementation. With FirstNet, first responders will use interoperable spectrum as opposed to firefighters, EMS, and police officers all relying on separate frequencies to communicate. The adoption of FirstNet by all 50 states will ultimately standardize the frequencies used by first responders in buildings they enter, ensuring their ability to communicate with each other and with external command centers.

Aside from mandates and fire codes, it is important to note that first responder technology usage also continues to evolve, as a variety of mobile devices are being used to communicate while on the job. Current fire codes tend to focus on legacy first responder radio technology such as Land Mobile Radio (LMR), and public safety systems tend to include frequencies in the 400MHz, 700MHz and 800MHz bands, as well as lower-band VHF and other tactical frequencies.

Historically, supporting these bands was sufficient for first responders to communicate within a building. However, with communication technology expanding into new spectrum, supporting only legacy bands will no longer be adequate. Emergency personnel are leaning more on mobile technologies to intercommunicate, creating an imperative to improve in-building cellular coverage beyond legacy LMR bands.

A Zinwave DAS is the only wireless solution that can support all public safety frequencies, 150/450/700/800 and FirstNet on a single hardware layer. With a Zinwave DAS in place, when there are updates to municipal regulations requiring reliable public safety access, or public safety services decide to utilize new bands of the spectrum, building owners will be able to support the change with a simple software update. Public Safety is priority number one, and the first step is deploying an in-building wireless solution that ensures buildings are up to code and prepared for the first responders of the future.

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