Interoperability Working Group plans for the future

Members of the Interoperability Working Group
Members of the Interoperability Working Group gather for their monthly meeting.

 

Emergency services within Metro Vancouver have formed a working group composed of representatives from police, fire and ambulance, to establish best practices for radio interoperability in anticipation of the deployment of the region’s new radio system. Interoperability is essential to first responder and public safety because it allows emergency personnel to communicate between jurisdictions, disciplines and varying levels of government using a variety of systems.

 

A radio interoperability plan is integral to the success of any large radio network in order to ensure that responders using the system know how to access communication links with first responders from multiple jurisdictions and agencies. In addition to creating a plan that will suit the unique features of the next generation radio system E-Comm and partners will implement by the end of 2017, the new Interoperability Working Group will be responsible for establishing training protocols and exercising the plan. Familiarity with how and when to utilize radio interoperability capabilities is critical to both responder and public safety.

Inextricably linked with interoperability is encryption, which will be implemented by all agencies on the next generation radio system to enhance privacy and security of communications. Anytime encryption is employed, the interoperability plan must take into account the encryption plans for different agencies as well as the interoperability talk groups that agencies use to talk to each other both on a day-to-day basis and during extraordinary events.

“We’ll be creating an interoperability plan that supports the unique needs of Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford and will likely be a blueprint for the rest of Canada.”

Chief John McGowan,
Richmond Fire-Rescue

With the implementation of a new radio network a little more than 24 months away, the endeavours of the working group are paramount. A great deal of effort will be required to produce the plans necessary to ensure that the network can provide the agencies using it with seamless interoperability and the highest level of service.

The group, chaired by Richmond Fire-Rescue Chief John McGowan, currently has 21 members and is meeting monthly. “The working group will conduct research and reference interoperability plans shared by our American counterparts that will support the successful rollout of the new radio system,” says Chief McGowan. “We’ll be creating an interoperability plan that supports the unique needs of Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford and will likely be a blueprint for the rest of Canada.”

Further updates on the working group will be included in upcoming issues of e-communiqué.