Norwegian Public-Safety Professional Offers Broadband Insights
Thursday, October 10, 2019 | Comments
Nina Myren is the deputy head of department/specialist adviser strategy at the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB). She has been involved in the development and introduction of the countrywide critical communications network in Norway, called Nødnett. Today, she works to further develop Nødnett and ensure emergency preparedness through secure and robust public-safety communications and forward-looking technological solutions. Myren was elected to represent DSB on TCCA’s board in June.

What do you see as TCCA’s main role in the short term?
TCCA is, in my opinion, playing an important role of keeping the international mission-critical communications community together and up to date. TCCA has been important for the TETRA industry, operators and users. For the past 15 years, the user community has been clear that speech is mission critical — today and in the future. But, we all agreed that one day broadband data services would become mission critical. I believe we are getting there now.

As mission-critical communications to a larger degree must rely on commercially available broadband services, it is even more important to keep the focus on providing technology and solutions that meet the needs of users. We represent a small part of the market, perhaps as little as 1% of the total numbers of users, but have special requirements. As a governmental operator, we need to have a firm understanding of the user needs on one side and the technology business development on the other side. I expect TCCA to take a leading role in this landscape, whether this is about promoting standards, guidelines or keeping the community informed and up to date.

In what specific areas do you hope to contribute to the TCCA board in the coming year?
TCCA must continue to be relevant to both operators and industry and help establish a common understanding of the road ahead. I therefore believe it is important that the governmental operators' experience and knowledge is represented on the TCCA board. Working for the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB), the governmental operator of the current TETRA network, I have been involved in more or less all management aspects of establishing and running a nationwide, governmentally owned TETRA network. I have a strong interest in understanding and promoting what it takes to provide secure and reliable mission-critical communications solutions also in the future.

How are control rooms changing with emerging technologies?
More information is digitized, and this is true also with regard to control rooms. How to use and share this information and collaborate across agencies are key issues. Legal and regulatory issues are just as important as technical issues.

A white paper earlier this year laid out Norway’s three options for mission-critical broadband and governmental timeline. What can other countries contemplating a broadband plan learn from Norway’s work?
We are working on a formal concept study of how to satisfy future critical communications needs in Norway. We are doing this in close collaboration with the regulator Norwegian Communications Authority. This collaboration is, to my knowledge, unique and gives a broader understanding of the key issues we're facing with mission-critical communication in commercial mobile networks.

How will commercial operators that service mission-critical communications broadband users have to adapt to meet those unique requirements?
I believe that it will be a learning process for the commercial operators. They have to get to know and understand the culture and needs of the public protection and disaster response (PPDR) users, which will make up a small, but quite demanding group of customers. Nødnett, our TETRA network, is specified and built especially for these users, and I think that the users as well as the operators will have to adjust to the new reality.

Norway has been a leader in interoperability with other countries. How will that evolve with broadband services?
I cannot predict the future, but we do have a good and strong collaboration in the Nordic region, and we have signed letters of intent among Norway, Finland and Sweden. Our goal is to provide our users with relevant cross-border broadband communications. In today's world, mission critical cross-border communications is increasingly important.

What’s the largest challenge for most countries looking to roll out mission-critical broadband services?
The biggest challenge probably varies from country to country. We have different starting points and different timelines. Countries where nationwide TETRA networks are in operation will have different challenges than countries without a nationwide network to replace.

For Norway, it is important that we ensure that the communications and close collaboration between PPDR users in Nødnett not only continues, but develops further as we move toward mission-critical broadband.

Mission-critical broadband services demand a certain level of security, robustness, availability and coverage in the commercial networks. This will not come free. Agreeing on who will pick up the check is a challenge I am sure most countries will face in the coming years.

It has been interesting to follow the last decade's work on what the future solution for mission-critical broadband should look like. The fact is that there are not yet any final answers. What is the "best practice" business model for mission-critical broadband? Nødnett will continue to be the most important collaboration tool for Norwegian preparedness for years to come. What is the right time to shut down Nødnett? How does a good plan for the transition of users from a reliable, secure and nationwide TETRA network to a new broadband system look like? Effectiveness, quality and use of data will be important aspects of new, trusted services. Will there be new security challenges because of the introduction of mission-critical internet of things (IoT)?

I call it the age of uncertainty. We need to work together to find the best answers.

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