NPSTC Works to Automate P25 Radio Programming Tool
Thursday, September 22, 2016 | Comments

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) Radio Programming Compatibility Requirements (PCR) Working Group is working to automate the Programming and Management (PAM) tool, now in its third version.

NPSTC released the PAM tool, a spreadsheet designed to import and export Project 25 (P25) programming data, in 2014. The PCR Working Group is hoping to automate the process of populating numerous vendors’ data across the nomenclature translating spreadsheet.

The group held a one-and-a-half-day meeting this week in Houston with good turnout from public safety, but of the seven vendors invited, only Relm Wireless participated, said Tom Sorley, head of NPSTC’s Technology and Broadband Committee. The meeting helped the group assess the limitations of the spreadsheet and determine how it should evolve.

“It’s a manual process in a spreadsheet with no input/export or automation,” said Sorley, who is also the deputy chief information officer (CIO) for the city of Houston. “The meeting was a proof of concept to prove we can do the translations, but all manually.”

The group developed the following recommendations:

• Enhance the current version to add channel names, including the full National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) channel list, and prepopulate the tool with all the vendors’ tabs, reducing human error.
• Deliver a fully working PAM tool to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to post on a public-safety website. DHS could oversee the operation and maintenance of the PAM tool and perform a quality of assurance function on future changes to the tool. The group plans to send the tool to DHS by Nov. 1.
• Request from the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) a technical bulletin that makes the mandatory PAM fields into a common interchange format. The document would not be a standard but a companion document to the P25 standard. The bulletin would include the best ways to import and export from different manufacturers’ software.
• Develop an informational visual aid for use with the tool that includes visual information about radio programming before PAM, the current scenario with PAM and future upgrades.

Someone from the NPSTC working group will attend the January TIA meetings to make the submission for the bulletin, Sorley said.

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