Next-Generation Networks for First Responders
Friday, May 11, 2018 | Comments

Next-Generation Networks for First Responders

How First Responders & Communities are Depending on Wireless Networks

First responders are out on the front line ready to face emergencies at all times. They are a vital component of communities, working to identify threats, carry out evacuations, and treat the injured to save lives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, emergency medical services (EMS) treat 25 to 30 million patients per year. One paramount factor in helping first responders take on extreme situations is access to mobile wireless connectivity when they are out in the field. A quick, reliable connection allows first responders to act faster, be more efficient, and have access to mission-critical applications from anywhere.

Mobile connectivity in first responders’ vehicles allows them to do a variety of tasks that might otherwise need to wait until reaching headquarters.  For paramedics this could mean monitoring, analyzing, and diagnosing patients while on the road. Police officers can check drivers’ licenses and registrations and file digital reports from their vehicles without having to leave their stations in the field. Additional functions can be carried out as well, such as surveillance through video-streaming capabilities, which allow first responders the advantage of real-time viewing, helping to monitor areas remotely and act immediately if necessary.

Geofencing and GPS

With integrated geofencing technology to track vehicle routes, fleet managers can monitor route efficiency. Also, precision GPS and telematics integration enable Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) and vehicle performance data. This real-time data works to help fleet managers make better-informed decisions, which help improve efficiency, saving time and possibly lives.

Hot Spot Connectivity

Network connectivity can extend far beyond the vehicle. With secure WiFi, and an external antenna to extend the WiFi range, vehicles can share connectivity. For example, if one police vehicle loses access, another one can park nearby so both vehicles can access WiFi; no one needs to leave the field to head back to headquarters to complete work.


Through Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Perimeter (NCP), a perimeter-secured virtual overlay network can be deployed, leveraging Software-Defined Perimeter (SD-Perimeter) technology, for a secure and encrypted cloud network. Deploying NCP on laptops, tablets, and smartphones provides an invite-only private overlay network that has a network access control function at the Edge to prevent unwanted devices from accessing the overlay, keeping the network and private data safe.

Best Practices

Organizations should begin planning for their networking infrastructures to move beyond the headquarter walls. Fleet networks should not be viewed as a separate networking endeavor but as a continuation of the existing networking systems.

The following best practices will help decision-makers plan for a seamless mobile network integration.

  • Use a software-defined, cloud-based remote management platform, which allows organizations to complete regular software and firmware updates as well as configuration, maintenance, and troubleshooting from any location.
  • Utilize mobile routing solutions that can be engineered with spike protection and ignition sensing, so the router does not drain battery voltage.
  • Correctly place in-vehicle routers for optimal connectivity and safety of the router.
  • Ensure the routers are able to withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures and install them to handle rough terrain.
  • Choose the correct carrier for optimal reception and reliable coverage.
  • When a single carrier cannot provide full coverage, a dual-modem solution is required to provide automatic, seamless failover from one carrier to another.

Many first responder agencies are already taking advantage of wireless networks to help improve overall efficiencies.

Boise Police Department

After an 18-month search for the best technology to meet the Boise Police Department’s (BPD) needs, they decided to install Cradlepoint’s COR series routers in their 150-vehicle fleet. They also implemented NetCloud Manager, Cradlepoint’s network management and application platform, to enable central configuration, monitoring, and management of the Cradlepoint devices. 

With the Cradlepoint solution, the BPD was able to improve productivity and cut costs. The dependable network connection in the cruisers allows them to no longer have to drive back and forth to headquarters to file reports, making emergency response times faster and increasing their patrol hours. IT also could afford to replace all their computers at once and upgrade to one wireless router solution.

NetCloud Manager saved BPD time and resources with fleet-wide software upgrades and remote management. Previously, BPD would need to touch each of the police department’s 150+ cruisers, taking as many as 160 man-hours for very update.

Additionally, with the always-on connection, cruisers are able to provide WiFi for non-equipped cruisers, as well as other first responders. By just parking a few blocks away, they can access the secure network via WiFi.

Finally, the IT department is now flexible enough to upgrade and change as network technology develops.

“Our overall goal is to create a mobile-office environment for everyone out in the field. We want our police officers, firefighters, paramedics, code enforcement officers, inspectors — anyone working in the field — to have all the information technology they need to work together to get the most out of our tax dollars. Cradlepoint’s wireless technology is helping us get there,” said Garry Beaty, Chief Information Officer for the City of Boise.

Cradlepoint’s Solution

Cradlepoint’s COR Series offers a ruggedized, all-in-one solution, supporting up to two 4G LTE modems, a multi-port Ethernet switch, 802.11ac WiFi, GPS, and ports for ignition and sensor integration. With Cradlepoint’s NetCloud software, agencies can have SD-WAN functionality and manage everything from the cloud and from a single location.

Recently, Cradlepoint announced that it had deployed cloud-managed mobile network solutions in more than 1,000 local, state, and federal public safety and first responder agencies across the United States. Cradlepoint is at the forefront of delivering essential, next-generation wireless networks for today's mobile first responders.

To learn more about mobile networks, read the white paper Networks on the Move.

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