Bay Area Tests P25 Radio Interoperability During Urban Shield
Thursday, September 08, 2016 | Comments
Urban Shield, the largest regional training exercise in the country, kicked off Sept. 8 with Yellow Command’s interoperable radio tests and a full-scale activation of Commodity Points of Distribution (C-POD) during a simulated Bay Area earthquake response.

“Intense Training for Intense Times” is the 10-year anniversary Urban Shield theme, and it’s important to have emergency preparedness on a local level, Yellow Command Exercise Director Corinne Bartshire said.

“In the Bay Area, it’s just a matter of when,” she said. “We know it could happen at anytime, and the government and supporting agencies are going to need to support and sustain commodities such as food and water when a catastrophic earthquake hits and be able to communicate efficiently.”

Yellow Command is an emergency management component within the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and in addition to setting up C-PODs, they’ll work in parallel with Urban Shield to test interoperability capabilities of Project 25 (P25) standards-based radios, Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications Systems Authority (BayRICS) General Manager Barry Fraser said.

“The Bay Area has developed a system-of-systems approach; seven different P25 systems are built or in the process of being built, and everyone knows the biggest benefit of upgrading to P25 is interoperability,” Fraser said. “There’s a need to do these exercises to ensure radios are programmed properly and talk groups are successful. Theoretically, we get to take radios working on one system and use them on another system, which is a tremendous advantage for mutual aid requests.”

Last year, Yellow Command developed a series of tests with radios from different agencies and centered the tests near Santa Clara, where Super Bowl 50 was held, to prove functionality would be successful — and it was, Fraser said.

“With 41 radio tests completed, 90 percent of them were successful. But, it was also a chance for us to learn what wasn’t successful,” he said. This year, Yellow Command is doing something similar, but testing the radios in three locations as opposed to one. The tests were conducted in South San Francisco, near San Francisco International Airport, in the city and in Oakland. “Big cities and areas like these need to test P25 from several different agencies, ” Fraser said.

The radio tests were scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. local time and an after action report will be provided later, Fraser said. Private sector partners engaged through Yellow Command are Haystack Technologies, Intermedix and Mutualink. The partners’ equipment was tested in tandem with the scenario, said Corey Reynolds, regional project manager for Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI).

“In general, we want to test regional coordination of our EOCs (emergency operation centers), but of course, the significant part is how strong the communications are among the EOCs, which is not something we often get the opportunity to test,” Reynolds said. “Our regional communications stakeholders are all here, and there is value in that.”

The main event, Urban Shield, is scheduled through the weekend, ending Sept. 12. Up to 5,000 people will receive critical training and expertise through more than 50 scenarios scheduled to take place in California counties including Santa Clara, Alameda, Monterrey, Marin, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma and San Francisco, Urban Shield Public Information Officer (PIO) Sgt. Ray Kelly said.

Scenarios will mimic special weapons and tactics (SWAT), fire, EMS and bomb squad situations. There will also be 16 fire scenarios, two physical challenges and four medical check points planted throughout 10 area commands and three points of distributions, Kelly said.

The simulated exercises will include active shooters attacking compounds, schools, workplaces, airports, a ship and more. First responders will gain training with hostage rescue situations, as well as a canine scenario and a tabletop earthquake simulation. This year, two international special operational teams from Taiwan and Mexico will join the regional agencies for training throughout the event.

“As we look around the country and world and what has happened in the last year alone, we’ve seen an increase in terrorist attacks, where law enforcement is specifically being targeted too,” Kelly said. “We gave it this theme this year because the intensity has increased over the last 10 years, as Urban Shield started around the Virginia Tech massacre. Now, just imagine all of the things that have happened since. We have to be prepared, and Urban Shield helps with that.”

The Urban Shield event and Yellow Command exercise are both funded through UASI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and supported through allied agencies in fire, law enforcement and EMS.

Find Urban Shield’s schedule here.

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On 9/19/16, Joshua Peng said:
I don't know what P25 is but I know it should be useful if a virtual network service is provided that can roam dynamically among any existing IP wireless network, for example, a 4G Wi-Fi satellite, to make streaming-grade applications based on an IP network smooth and seamless as long as there still is available network although different to cover any position no matter what each of them is. Say after a tragedy, position A still has Verizon satellite, position B still has public Wi-Fi and position C still has T-Mobile Community Wi-Fi available, then a vehicle go through position A, B and C and still have smooth seamless non-stop real-time video calling enabled.

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