Colorado Parks and Wildlife Implements Temporary LTE Network for Hunting, Fishing Check Station
Monday, November 23, 2015 | Comments
During a real-world, 36-hour public safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) LAN project last month, Colorado Parks and Wildlife set up check stations along Interstate-70, a major highway through the state’s mountain corridor, to electronically gather law enforcement and biological data.

The 700 MHz band 14 network operated under a special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC Oct. 20 – 21 and allowed state workers to gather data at the hunter check stations in real time. The dedicated private network allowed the state agency to track 1,500 to 2,000 vehicles during the 36 hours without congestion in an area known to have spotty commercial network coverage.

The check stations, conducted each year in various locations around the state, are used to verify that hunters have all appropriate permits, wildlife was obtained legally and to collect biological samples. The check stations gather statistics on the number of vehicles and occupants, whether the occupants have been hunting or fishing, whether they were successful, and if so, what species and other biological data to allow the department to track trends in wildlife management statewide.

“The network saved us a lot of time after the fact,” said Eric Harper, criminal investigator, Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Normally those records would be hard copy and entered into a database after the fact. We eliminated that hard copy step, making it all one process.”

State officials at the check station near Idaho Springs along I-70 scanned hunting and fishing licenses. Drivers were required to stop if they had been hunting or fishing, and the Idaho Springs station used signage to inform drivers of the check station. Officials attempted to intercept vehicles that were obviously transporting wildlife but didn’t stop because of the signs. Hunters and fishers are required by law to stop.

Harper learned about the state’s public-safety LTE work through various First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) meetings he had attended in the state. “It sounded like a solution that might work for us to collect that data and get it back to the server where we could work with it,” he said. “It was very successful I would say. There were no significant problems with the network. We had some minor hiccups with the in-house application we were using, but programmers were on site and fixed those quickly.

Several vendors donated equipment and time for the network. Global Wireless Technology (GWT) supplied the LTE infrastructure, including an eNodeB and evolved packet core (EPC), along with an interface. Sierra Wireless modems and Sonim Technologies rugged smartphones were also used.

“It was a proof of concept for having the technology in the field on a secure, dedicated network and the potential for using that in the future,” said Kim Coleman Madsen, FirstNet Colorado public-safety broadband program manager within the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), who helped coordinate the temporary network.

More than 20 first responders from nine agencies across all levels of government used the network. “It worked as well as it could have under the circumstances,” Harper said. “We had awful weather, rain and sleet, and the network worked well through that. There were some challenges with bar code scanning at night.”

Harper said moving to a broadband network in the future would be an effective means to gather the data that Parks and Wildlife is required to collect. Officials will discuss next steps in December and potential future options.

“We’re continuing to look for opportunities to keep first responders excited about the technology,” said Coleman Madsen. “If they provide us a use case, we can provide them with a network.”


Sandra Wendelken is editor of MissionCritical Communications and RadioResource International magazines. Contact her at swendelken@RRMediaGroup.com.

 
 
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