P25 Programming Demos and Updates Announced
By Michelle Zilis, Managing Editor
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 | Comments

The Radio Programming Compatibility Requirements (Radio PCR) working group, responsible for the creation of the Programming and Management (PAM) tool for Project 25 (P25) software radio programming, made several announcements on a July 8 conference call. The call addressed updates to the spreadsheet, increasing accessibility, changes in the work group dynamics and requests for new members to join, as well as the announcement that the group was awarded the DJ Atkinson Technical Award.

“Our internal work group has been busy working on the spreadsheet itself and trying to make updates,” said Pam Montanari, the group’s co-chair. “We’ve added a few things that should be helpful.”

Midland Radio’s information was added to the spreadsheet, and the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) information was added.

“Really what we’re trying to do is incorporate some of the things that were requested in the beginning and make it a little more user friendly for everyone,” Montanari said. “We’re also trying to automate some of the things we do with the spreadsheet itself.”

Accessibility

One of the group’s goals is to ensure the spreadsheet is as available as possible to public-safety users. It is currently on the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) site. Version 7-09 is the latest version available. The group is working directly with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) to add the spreadsheet to the publicsafetytools.info website as well.

“When I was at [the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) conference] in June, I had a couple people come up to me and tell me that they’ve used the tool and really like it, so keep it moving forward,” Montanari said.

At the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International annual conference in New Orleans in August, the group will present a live demonstration in the APCO Presentation Theater, Tuesday, Aug. 5 from 12:45 – 1:15 p.m. The presentation will include an overview and background on the spreadsheet and a live radio test.

There are also tentative booth demonstrations planned for 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Monday and 2 and 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Interested attendees should stop by the NPSTC booth to register for a demonstration time.

Additionally, the group plans to offer webinars in the future that highlight how to populate the spreadsheet.

Group Dynamics

The group won the DJ Atkinson Technical Award at the NPSTC meeting in Washington D.C. earlier this year. The award was created in 2012 to honor DJ Atkinson’s work at the PSCR program. The working group’s technical team includes Lt. Ken Link, Monroe Township (New Jersey) Professional Firefighters; Paul Roberts, division chief special operations, Boise (Idaho) Fire Department; Dan Robinson, radio programming unit, Michigan Public Safety Communications System; and Scott Glazer, application specialist, Thales Communications.

“I feel honored that they awarded our group this,” Montanari said. “There’s been a lot of smart technical work from our group — from Scott, Dan, Paul and Ken — and without those guys we really couldn’t have kept it moving forward.”

“I just want to say great work to everyone,” said Roberts. “I feel like my part is very small. I think Scott and Dan have done a tremendous amount of work to make this happen, and I just feel lucky on the coattails of everybody else in getting the DJ Atkinson Technical Award. So thank you for all your hard work.”

Montanari also announced that she will step down as co-chair at the end of July to take another position working in public-safety communications. Robinson will be the group’s other co-chair, joining Tom Sorely.

Additionally, the group created a Quality Assurance Technical Team to ensure that as the spreadsheet is updated, there are quality measures in place. Robinson will be the leader with his technical team in Michigan. Before new versions are published, the quality assurance team will ensure that all updates are valid. The group is also looking for more volunteer agencies to assist. Interested parties can email their contact information to support@NPSTC.org.

“In my opinion, the two points of high priority are the quality control to continue to ensure we produce a great product, and the other part is the functionality part; the ability to import/export,” said Roberts. “I think that’s the next major hurdle for us.”

The technical team is working with each manufacturer on its specific ability to import/export information from its programming software. Not all the manufacturers had that capability in previous versions, but many are including it now, Montanari said.

In addition to looking for new members to join the quality assurance team, Montanari encouraged any interested users to get involved with the group. “We can always use more people helping us,” she said. “Everything we do with NPSTC is volunteer, and we all have real jobs, so this kind of comes in between. We spent a lot of time and effort over the past year to get it where it is now.” 



 
 
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