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Track with me for a moment. In the essence of bringing innovation to the local police department’s patrol fleet, the city IT staff decides to pull out all the stops. From Mobile Data Terminals, to in-car and body cameras, and even e-citation, the team puts together a phenomenal solution to increase officer efficiency and safety in vehicle. All the best manufacturers were selected- Panasonic, Brother, Havis and more. Mission critical software access? Check. Mobile ticketing/E-citation? Check. Body-worn and 360-degree vehicle cameras? Check. All equipment securely mounted? Check.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Well, it would be except for one small detail. Since IT spent a bulk of the budget on procuring best-in-class gear, they overlooked the most important piece to the entire solution- secure, reliable connectivity.

Chances are if you’re an officer of the law and you’re reading this, you know where I’m going- cellular hotspots. Sure, they work well enough, are mobile, and can get the job done, but are they engineered for reliable connectivity in a mobile application? No. No they are not. But hey, even if they fly off the console and shatter, the battery swells and blows up, or they drop connectivity in the middle of an event, at least they are free off a state contract, right? I know the name of the game- live and die by budget. It’s hard to beat free from a sales standpoint, and free definitely saves taxpayer money.

However, to select what is cheapest is not always the best form of stewardship, especially when what’s cheapest can drastically put officers and citizens at risk.

Let’s terse that out. Mobile hotspots do get the job done, yes, but not very well. From a design standpoint, they neither have ruggedness nor high-gain (the ability of an antenna to pull a signal). This is problematic from two standpoints. One, lack of ruggedness means hotspots are exposed to heat, cold, vibration, dust, water, and other elements in a serious way. As consumer-grade devices, they simply cannot withstand such a tough mix of environmental agents without breaking or dying. Two, since they lack high gain, signal drops consistently and many areas turn into either dead or nearly dead zones. Moreover, since the vehicle’s metallic frame creates electromagnetic interference (EMI), the poor signal issue amplifies.

When the hotspots cannot do their job, it means technology in the vehicle cannot do its job. Mission critical software cannot be accessed, citation reports cannot be sent back to HQ, dispatch cannot tap into live streams during an emergency, and the list goes on and on.

Probably the most popular complaint heard from officers is when sporadic connectivity drops on the hotspot and terminates CAD, NCIC, and other software sessions. At worst, this can tie down the officer for a surplus of 15 minutes trying to log back into everything. In Public Safety, minutes can equal lives. This type of event is unacceptable.

I believe its time to trade out that hotspot for an enterprise-grade solution that’s engineered for public safety. It’s time for a rugged device, permanently mounted in vehicle, with a high gain external antenna for best-in-field LTE. It’s time for a Cradlepoint Mobile Series router.

The IBR900 or IBR1700 from Cradlepoint serve as a fully ruggedized, connected hub, especially with a durable antenna mounted on top of the vehicle to pull in signal. Not only will it broadcast wi-fi at around a 300-foot range, but also provide connectivity to a GPS/AVL system, in car camera system, body-worn cameras, mobile data terminals and panic buttons. Not only that, Cradlepoints distributed across a fleet can be cloud managed from one pane of glass via NetCloud manager, reducing IT hours in configurations, deployments, maintenance and truck rolls.

From a speed standpoint, Cradlepoint’s new Cat-18 modem can leverage multiple bands, including Band14, to achieve theoretical speeds of 1.2 Gbps. This means you’ll not only achieve fiber-like speeds via LTE, but also data-heavy applications, like live-streaming camera footage, will be easily achievable. Paired with the high gain external antenna bolted to the deck lid, you’ll also see many signal loss issues alleviated.

In fact, one agency RCN demoed with complained about dead spots in over 50% of the county. During the demo, they found every area with zero signal sprang back to life with the use of the Cradlepoint and external antenna. This meant they no longer faced session termination on their mission-critical applications, keeping officers effectively on the road and ready for response.

Toe to toe with a hotspot, there is simply no comparison. Cradlepoints are superior in every single parameter, and can assure reliable, rugged, mission-critical connectivity for your fleet. This not only will increase officer efficiency, but also officer and civilian safety.

So the next time the IT team starts kicking around ideas for the patrol vehicle of the future, tell them to start with connectivity. After all, it is the foundation of all applications on the road ahead. They certainly would not regret it.

To conclude, RCN Technologies can help your agency walk down this path. We are a Cradlepoint Elite partner with a dedicated government team and price file to help make a Cradlepoint purchase a slam dunk. What’s more, we can provide the equipment through government contracts to make for a clean, easy purchase, or we have a dedicated bid desk in case you need to take the purchase out to bid. Truly, RCN Technologies Public Sector is your ally in the government business. Whatever your agency needs, we’ll work our hardest to bring your vision to life with what budget is available.

If interested in learning more, give us a call for free quote and consultation today.
-Reed Perryman – Director, Public Sector Sales – 865-293-0350