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NETWORK DESIGNS

Figure 3. The typical ‘evolution’ cycle.

Figure 2. Needs, cost-benefit and risk.

Figure 4. Building an ‘evolve-able’ RMS.

Indeed, an organisation’s primary concern is not how radiocommunications ‘work’, nor the features they provide. An organisation’s key concern is how effectively and efficiently ‘radio’ works within its specific context — and this cannot be standardised. It is a very basic premise that investments in radio capabilities only deliver a return when and where they are put to productive use. What is productive is not determined by the technology or solution used, but by the purpose and the context within which it is used. So, if standards and ‘forward requirements specification’ are not the answer, what is?

Allowing for ‘evolution’ An RMS is a key interface between the radio network and the communication of information within, and often beyond, the organisation. As such, any RMS needs to consolidate the capabilities of the radio network for it to work effectively and efficiently. As described previously, issues arise when the focus is predominantly on technology and functionality. Instead, organisations may first focus on determining what they really need, and when — and indeed, what — they don’t need. An RMS is a substantial investment of resources and time, and at some stage the design of the RMS needs to be agreed on. But what if that didn’t need to be the case for every capability? What if all the future needs and opportunities didn’t have to be addressed through detailed specifications in advance? What if capabilities could be added when the need arises, and real, measurable benefits can be had? To achieve this requires flexibility in scope and requirements. It also requires confidence in the ability to meet future needs. In fact, radio networks have always evolved, typically built up over time using a range of assets of different types and technology. And that makes perfect sense. Just as the organisation’s needs for radiocommunications evolve, so does the radio network.

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Organisations seek to maximise return on invested capital, return on assets and usable lifetime of assets and infrastructure, while managing expenditure and costs. Thus planning and investing in ‘radio’ involves making trade-offs between functionality, cost and time frames. Sometimes it may make technological, but not financial, sense to replace an asset. What makes these trade-offs possible is the knowledge that an organisation can source the capabilities it needs when it needs them. Why not apply the same rationale to radio management systems? Figure 4 shows how such an approach can work to deliver excellent fit and cost efficiencies. Allowing for additions from within the RMS, rather than prescriptive requirements specification, allows an RMS to evolve… just as the radio network described earlier. Such an ‘evolve-able’ system does not need to specify all possible permutations — instead it matches predictable needs and opportunities to a repository of capabilities. This is done once during the initial system concept. Organisations can address needs and opportunities by adding the relevant capabilities, when and where it makes sense. Since these capabilities are held in the repository, organisations can add capabilities in increments that fit their schedule and budget. For example, adding a single HF radio, a group of DMR, TETRA or P25 radios, or all together. Other capabilities can also be added, such as VoIP phone lines, voice recording and location mapping. Organisations can do this without having to repeat the specification and design process; it can all be done within the design of the RMS itself. What remains are the truly uncertain and unquantifiable needs and opportunities, which in any case are best managed using suitable risk and change management processes. TestAdvance Pty Ltd www.testadvance.com

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Critical Comms Nov/Dec 2015  

The communications industry magazine for the public safety, law enforcement, utilities, transport, mining, security and defence sectors thro...

Critical Comms Nov/Dec 2015  

The communications industry magazine for the public safety, law enforcement, utilities, transport, mining, security and defence sectors thro...