As the narrowbanding deadline gets closer (just eight-and-a-half months away now), it’s becoming increasingly important for transit agencies to update their frequencies and their equipment. Radio equipment is a large part of transit security, and Harris Corp. has a new product – Momentum - out that will help users leverage the latest digital technology and meet the FCC’s narrowbanding deadline.
“Momentum is based on a technology called DMR, which is a standard that has been widely adopted not only in North America but around the globe. That DMR technology operates on the frequencies that the FCC designates as need to be moved to narrowband,” explains Steve Frackleton, product line manager, Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications. “What the FCC means by narrowband is operating on a 12.5 kHz channel bandwidth, and that’s intended to be more efficient than the old 25 kHz bandwidth channels. DMR actually uses a TDMA technology that allows conversations, two radios, to be on the air on that frequency at the same time. It actually exceeds the technical requirements specified by the FCC.”
Barry Einsig, Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications transportation market director, says many of the larger more complicated systems require a high degree of design work and staging in the factory. “When an agency is on a very critical timeline for narrowbanding, a bigger more complex solution may not fit the bill for the deadlines; whereas Momentum is much better positioned for the local radio shops to be able to implement a system more quickly,” he says.
Since Momentum is a digital format, Frackleton explains, it allows both digital voice and data communications. “The classic application for a transit, transportation customer would be AVL; the radio’s include those capabilities integrated into the radio. And so with that capability the agency can track location of either security personal with the radio on their hip or the vehicle that would have the radio mounted in it,” Frackleton says.
“More people can use because it’s more spectrally efficient; it means more officers can use the system simultaneously,” Einsig says.
Because of the AVL capabilities, transit security departments can have geo fencing capabilities. So, either the officer wearing the radio on his hip or the bus with the system mounted in it can be tracked by the dispatch center. Frackleton used a rural school bus as an example, but the same concept could easily be applied to bus rapid transit systems or express buses. “With an AVL and a Google map type of application, you could draw a boundary around the county and you could indicate that these school buses with kids should not be leaving this geographic area. If a bus did leave that area that would indicate there was some type of issue on that bus. With third-party software and this system, the bus could automatically send an alarm back to the county school board or a dispatch center saying this bus has left its predetermined route, someone needs to see if there’s a problem,” he says.