NPSTC Defines Public-Safety Grade in New Report (5/23/14)
Friday, May 23, 2014 | Comments

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) Broadband Working Group (BBWG) is proud to announce the publication of a report that defines “public safety grade.” The definition is of critical importance to public-safety agencies and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), charged with building a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

This report, “Defining Public Safety Grade Systems and Facilities” defines public-safety grade (PSG) communications and provides measurable characteristics that would differentiate a mission-critical communications system from a standard or commercial-grade network. The report covers environmental considerations, service level agreements, reliability and resiliency, coverage, push-to-talk (PTT), applications, site hardening, installation, and operations and maintenance.

"This is a huge milestone in our quest to develop requirements for FirstNet," said Marilyn Ward, NPSTC executive director. "Thanks to David Buchanan, task group chair, and the numerous volunteers from public safety and industry."

The goal is for the NPSBN to be equivalent to public-safety LMR systems that support law, fire and EMS operations and are commonly referred to as mission-critical systems. Design choices must support a greater overall network reliability and resiliency to network disruptions compared with commercial networks.

Reliability is achieved in public-safety LMR systems through equipment redundancy and minimizing single points of failures. Resiliency is achieved through careful network design, taking into consideration a variety of local environmental factors and how events such as earthquakes, wild land fires, hurricanes, floods, lightning, ice, tornadoes and even vermin can disrupt or damage the NPSBN network.

“The NPSBN must be constructed to meet as many of these public-safety-grade requirements as possible,” NPSTC said. “And since network and cell site sharing with commercial operators may be part of the NPSBN design, those commercial sites which also house NPSBN equipment must be upgraded to meet as many of these requirements as possible. The NPSBN must be a public-safety-grade network, not a commercial ‘best effort’ network.”

The 123-page report is available here.

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