New Report Recommends Standardized User ID Structure for MCPTT
Wednesday, December 05, 2018 | Comments

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council released a report specific to managing user identification for mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT). The report provides high-level recommendations on the potential use of various MCPTT data fields to manage first responder identity and recommends creating a standard governing the MCPTT ID structure.

NPSTC recommends the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), a group that advises the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), review the document and provide additional input to FirstNet and AT&T.

Most public-safety LMR systems support the transmission of a unit identification (ID) to verify which first responder is communicating. First responder identity is tracked in an entirely new way with MCPTT. In public-safety narrowband systems, the user’s device is the basis for the radio ID, and additional translation is necessary to match the radio device to the current user. In MCPTT, first responders log into the application with a unique ID that identifies them individually.

This ability to identify the individual first responder will be critical as new technologies and capabilities are developed. For example, software applications can provide customized support based on the specific user, including the ability to only respond to an individual first responder’s voice.

A set of international technical standards for MCPTT provides flexibility in the creation and assignment of first responder identity. For the MCPTT service, the three main user identifiers include:
• MCPTT user ID, a structured and unique ID designed to identify the first responder and is the only data field of the three that must be unique to each MCPTT user
• MCPTT alias, designed to store additional identity information
• MCPTT functional alias to dynamically display the specific role the first responder has been assigned, which may include their placement in the Incident Command System (ICS) structure.

A survey of public-safety agencies participating in the development of this report was conducted to determine what specific elements of a first responder’s identity were considered essential. The resulting recommendation offered five core elements that should be present in every MPCTT user ID: user first name, user last name, agency assigned ID/badge number, agency name and agency state.

A separate set of data elements were recommended as the minimum necessary for MCPTT specialty devices that are not assigned to an individual first responder, including functional name, agency name and agency state.

The report also concluded that the final format selected for the MCPTT User ID should be standardized to ensure consistency across all agencies. Variations in the sequence and type of data elements in an MCPTT User ID could lead to confusion and prevent rapid identification of a first responder in an emergency.

This report does not address how an MCPTT user ID may be affected when a first responder is operating off network in proximity services (Pro Se), also known as direct mode. The report is also silent on what options may exist to identify the specific MCPTT device a first responder is using if they are carrying multiple devices. This information is dependent on further research and testing and on implementation decisions yet to be made by FirstNet and AT&T.

Several significant operational and technical issues must wait for the finalization of MCPTT network design and for the completion of additional standards work. “For those reasons, this report is a high-level examination of how MCPTT may impact public-safety agencies,” the report said.

More than 200 members of the public-safety community contributed to, or reviewed, this report including first responders and representatives of industry and academia. The report, titled Mission Critical Push to Talk: Considerations for the Management of User ID and First Responder Identity,” is here.

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