TETRA paging creates new ideas
Paging today can be much more than a small beeper that shows the number to call
Many people still picture a pager as a small beeping device showing only which phone number to call when the user can get to a landline telephone. Paging today can offer much more, including advanced solutions that make it a valuable tool in day-to-day operations.
The basic idea remains the same: to alert people on duty when they need to respond to an incident. Both professionals and volunteers. In any case, people who are needed to help handle a critical situation.
Thanks to secure, advanced TETRA networks, paging solutions will have many more features and functions to offer in the future.
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Old-fashioned, basic paging is not efficient. In the modern world, dispatchers want to pass critical information directly to the alerted people. Active paging is the answer.
For instance, the paging device can show the priority or severity class of the alert and a timer will start running. The user must accept the alert before the timer runs out, or the system will record that they’re not available.
This is useful because the dispatcher instantly knows which resources are available for call out.
The must haves
The pager needs:
- A good antenna. Paging does not work if the pager does not receive the messages. An antenna with good performance, both in uplink and downlink, is critical to successful TETRA paging.
- Long battery life.
- A compact size.The antenna should be integrated within the device, so it is convenient to carry in a pocket
- A big enough display. It needs to show all the important information, so that people know what to expect when they arrive at the scene of the incident
- Ruggedness. The device must withstand dust and water
The best pagers are also very easy to use.
Ideally, the user should also be able to carry out any software upgrades and terminal configurations over an IP network by connecting the pager to their home PC. This way, the user would not have to take the device to a service point for new settings.
Being able to update the pager at home, for example, would make life much easier for volunteer firemen who do not regularly visit the fire station.
Simple or full paging?
Paging solutions nowadays can provide anything from a simple call-out to a wide feature set. In countries such as Germany, where the majority of fire brigades rely on volunteer fire fighters, paging with a simple call-out is a perfect solution.
These part-time volunteers don’t need to be involved in the public safety authorities’ voice communication during their normal working day, when they may be busy as teachers, nurses or office workers. The important thing is that they are reachable.
A powerful and simple pager with a long-lasting battery and simple set of features is therefore the best solution. An alert gathers the volunteers together at the fire station for more detailed instructions.
Full call-out can be a better solution for professionals, such as fire fighters who are on call at home. Full call-out normally requires a TETRA radio with a paging feature.
After the user has accepted the task, the radio can move to an information phase and the dispatcher can provide everyone in the alerted group with more details about the mission, via either text or voice. Those officers who accepted the task can even start a group call before they get to the fire station. This means that the group starts preparing sooner for whatever situation they face.
Operators can benefit
TETRA paging also offers benefits for network operators who can use their existing TETRA infrastructure, which is more cost effective than running a separate, dedicated paging network. Pagers are light users of the network, because they don’t require voice communication. A good balance of radios and pagers can therefore help to optimise the use of network resources.
Operators might also attract new users who normally use public mobile communications but are looking for task management features. During major incidents, the public mobile phone network is often jammed with too much simultaneous traffic, but TETRA provides more secure communications. In addition, a pager scores well in terms of information security, because the risk of misuse is minimal if it gets lost or stolen.
Operators and dispatchers can also benefit from the advanced filtering features available in paging. Each user can have a specified role, such as a chemical expert, for example. That person need only be alerted if chemicals expertise is needed in a particular incident. This function can be automated so that in an emergency when every second counts, the dispatcher can simply send the alert and the pagers will handle the filtering.
Because demand for paging in TETRA seems to be growing, operators, organisations and users around the world should take some time to define their needs and use cases. Stakeholders should get up to speed with what’s possible with paging in TETRA and get ready to make the most of the technology. Paging might bring new opportunities and new ways of working with existing TETRA systems.