Law enforcement and emergency services depend on information to flow seamlessly in crisis situations. The problem is that many of the agencies utilize different communication tools and frequencies. To get town, city, county, state and federal agencies all communicating on a common platform is what P25 standardization is all about.
Law enforcement and emergency services also depend on people. When disaster strikes, emergency responders that are dispatched to the scene are often from different jurisdictions. The challenge is to coordinate the activities of crews who rarely worked together and help them work as teams.
The implementation of P25 communications at all levels of government addresses the communication issues.
Implementing P25 Information Sharing Requires Expert Help
P25 is not a special piece of hardware that makes information shareable. It is a set of computer and communication standards that each agency must implement if they wish to participate in P25 information sharing. Large agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security, have in-house IT resources capable of implementing the P25 standards without outside assistance. However, local police and regional emergency services will most likely need to involve a radio communications vendor for municipalities or a third-party consultant to become P25-compliant.
P25-Enabled Systems Use the Internet as a Backbone
Under normal circumstances, the Internet is the perfect backbone for P25 Communications. It is available almost everywhere. It is redundant, resilient and has the bandwidth to handle any imaginable situation. In situations where the Internet is not available, P25 can still be effective using a variety of RF devices and alternate networks.
The Internet backbone offers the ability to send both encrypted and unencrypted data. This permits sensitive data to be sent encrypted while allowing other data to be sent in the open for those without decryption capabilities. The ability of red black dispatch equipment to encrypt communications when needed is one of the significant benefits of an interoperable communications system like P25.
P25 Communications Interoperability Is Available for Every Emergency Response
When you see local emergency personnel with handheld devices, vehicle-mounted computers or mobile operation centers, your first assumption may be that the scope of their communications is local. Often, however, they are P25-compliant and capable of communicating across this interoperable communications system. When a quick response is needed, any one of these devices can communicate with county, state or federal agencies to assist or request assistance in dealing with the emergency at hand.
The P25 standards are not perfect but they continue to evolve and offer more communications interoperability with each release. Not every government agency supports P25 but there is a steady stream of agencies joining the P25 network. Eventually, all government agencies will embrace the P25 standard and emergency management will become virtually seamless.