Voice and Video Conferencing Technology in the IP World of VoIP

Video conferencing is becoming an increasingly important part of how today’s companies do business. Throughout various sectors, companies are opting to conduct long-distance meetings and conversations via videoconferencing rather than the traditional conference call. The benefits of this approach include improved communication and stronger relationships. When video is not optimal for whatever reason, a high-quality voice conferencing system is best for facilitating the effective communication you may need.

For this reason, it is important to source voice and video conferencing technology that is cost-effective, reliable and meets your company’s specific needs. High-quality imaging is a must to reap the benefits of video conferencing, especially when you need to display video or image content. Priorities for this technology often include high audio and video quality as well as transmission speed.

Circuit Switching and Packet Switching

Standard phone systems use circuit switching to transmit data. This means the system selects a specific path to transmit all the data from the conference. This route is only used for that data so long as the session continues. Because you pay for the exclusive use of the bandwidth, this method tends to be more costly. Some types of videoconferencing use circuit switching.

The most common protocol for video and audio conferencing is packet switching, which uses IP-based networks. This protocol converts the information to a sequence of packets, then sends them. Each packet travels through the network separately. Because these routes are also used by others, this method does not cost as much.

On the other hand, this protocol on its own can result in a lower transmission quality, as the data packets do not have a dedicated circuit open for them and compete with other data traveling along the same route. VoIP uses packet switching; a high-quality communication systems provider will typically use additional protocols to increase reliability and transmission quality. There are also several methods to keep network conditions from affecting quality.

Types of Systems

Conferencing technology systems can come in a variety of configurations. These include systems that individuals can use on desktop computer or full featured smartphone. Set-ups for large audiences in a single room often rely of broadcast quality bandwidth dedicated to that production. A configuration optimal for conferencing in a large number of people in disparate locations may use an IP voice switch for the audio and a larger bandwidth on the same IP network for the video packets. Some video conferencing systems may have a voice switch baked into the system, allowing one person to speak and appear at a time. Others create the atmosphere of a meeting by showing everyone simultaneously.

Radio Over IP

Some companies, such as those operating mobile fleets, need to integrate their radio network to work over IP. VoIP to radio switching can be a cost-effective and reliable way to connect radio users and operators via dispatching hardware. Because the IP protocol can route the audio to a wide variety of radio types, it can make system-wide integration easier.

Benefits of Using Radio Over IP as Part of the Utility Storm Preparedness Plan

Utility workers need to communicate within a municipality during a storm. Communication is essential to shoring up flood areas, blocking off low water crossings overflowing with water, finding storm shelters, fixing downed power lines, testing the accessibility of clean water and more. Radio over IP helps workers go beyond the current analog signals. RoIP networks offer better interoperability and greater reliability if the local Wan or Lan access is still up and running. RoIP gateways can be the ticket to improved storm preparedness for your utility company.

Improved Function

Storm preparedness plans often include radios as the communication method of choice to deliver necessary information between various departments including utility companies, military personnel, emergency services and municipality offices. Relying only on radio frequencies can mean intermittent communication during a raging storm. Radio over internet protocol uses the internet to send and receive messages. Analog signals are converted to digital signals that travel over IP networks with a vocoder. These digital voice packets are protected with routers and firewalls using what is currently securing the IP network. The added avenues for communication allowed by RoIP for municipalities improves communications for improved efficiency and effective deployment of the storm preparedness plan. When departments can communicate with each other, they can effectively communicate with residents, help affected residents faster and set up barriers efficiently.

Cost Effective

Leveraging RoIP for municipalities is a cost-effective way to streamline effective communications between the various entities mobilized during a storm. RoIP gateways allow the utility companies to use existing LAN lines whether private or public without having to build new pathways for communication. The cost savings of RoIP for utility workers allows for more money to go toward necessary emergency items such as sand bags, storm shelters and life-saving equipment.

Improved Interoperability

Radio signals can send their digitized communications over IP networks. Interconnecting RoIP for utility workers with SIP enabled devices, cell phones and VoIP phones allows the workers to tap a larger network. Communicating between departments and units is faster and more reliable. Installing RoIP for municipalities as part of the storm preparedness plans ensures the utility companies receive training and practice to employ the devices with accuracy during an emergency. Using more than one pathway to communicate naturally increases the reliability of radio communication systems.

The benefits of RoIP for utility workers cannot be overstated. When it comes to storm preparedness, radios can be life savers. Increasing their effectiveness and reliability helps residents and workers alike. Homeowners wishing to increase their ability to communicate with the outside world during a storm may benefit from RoIP if they have the necessary devices.

Securing Voice Communications in a Hackable World

When it comes to communication, public safety providers such as EMS, firefighters, and police, walk a fine line. On the one hand, the people are entitled to transparency in public safety activities. On the other hand, the sensitive information conveyed could fall into the hands of potential criminals, and its misuse could pose a threat to citizens and public safety personnel alike.

Security
and encryption of most public safety communications, sensitive data transitions
and two way radio systems and 911 dispatch, are of a very high priority. However,
one area of public safety communication that is lagging dangerously far behind
in this regard is the two-way land mobile radio. Secure mobile communications are
desperately needed to bring LMR systems up to the same standard as voice over
IP communications.

LMR and Its Alternatives

Public safety providers use LMR because it is an efficient way to communicate with many different parties at once with the push of a button, without requiring users to look away from the current situation to glance down at the device in their hands, which are drawbacks of smartphone devices sometimes used in lieu of two-way radios. Many mobile data terminals and smartphones provide the encrypted data capabilities where most advanced LMR systems lack the red black separation used in encrypting communications. The solution is to design and implement a system that incorporates the convenience and reliability of push-to-talk LMR and the capacity for cybersecurity of an internet-enabled device to ensure secure mobile communications within the realm of public safety.

Radio Over Internet Protocol

A technology that shows promise as a potential part of the solution is Radio over IP. What is radio over IP you ask? This two way radio over internet protocol is an extension of telephonic Voice over IP technology that works by connecting a series of hardware devices via base stations connected to IP gateways to facilitate communication. Two-way radio over internet presents a possible replacement for traditional LMR due to the following advantages:

  • Provides the same push-to-talk capability
  • Utilizes existing data networks
  • Interoperability with both new and legacy hardware

Software Security
Architecture

Internet communications are not automatically encrypted, however. Security programming and encryption rules be written, then installed, according to architecture that facilitates encryption. The most basic type of security architecture is a system of red black control. This type of secure RoIP encryption consists of two separate partitions, a red partition containing information that is unencrypted but confidential and a black partition containing encrypted data, with an interface between the two to convert the data back and forth for secure mobile communications.

Steady Progress

The federal government has recognized the need for a nationwide, interoperable public safety communication network and has been in the process of implementing FirstNet, based on encrypted Long Term Evolution Technology, since at least 2016. It is not known when FirstNet will be fully deployed.

3 Benefits of RoIP for Bus Fleet and Regional Rail Operators

Communication is vital for effective operations in the transportation industry. Operators need to know the status of every vehicle as well as any potential problems along the route. In the past, traditional radio networks served this function well, but technological advances now allow users to replace microwave towers with an internet-based communication network. As the operator of a regional rail system or bus fleet, here are three ways you could benefit by implementing a Radio over IP solution.

1. Significant Cost Savings

One of the biggest reasons telecommunication engineers turn to RoIP is the dramatic cost savings over upgrading older radio networks and hardware. As technology continues to evolve, legacy hardware becomes more expensive to maintain and replace while newer components become more readily available and affordable. To further the affordability, the switch to this type of system doesn’t require a complete overhaul of equipment, as operators can connect digital radios using IP networks with a simple RoIP gateway and some basic configuration adjustments that leverage existing LAN’s, a WAN and private networks.

2. Larger Geographic Footprint

Radio networks provide easy communication without wires, but they do have limitations when it comes to service areas. For a network to expand its reach, operators must lease more lines and microwave towers, which results in significant cost increases. By implementing a RoIP for transportation solution, your communication system’s reach extends to any location that has access to your LAN. The increased interoperability that comes with this protocol also allows users in different locations to remain connected while still taking advantage of the equipment best suited to the unique situation.

3. Increased Reliability

Constant communication is vital when you’re coordinating a fleet of buses or a municipal train network, which is why it’s important for a radio network to be reliable. When part of a standard system fails, it can cripple the entire array and render you unable to talk to your buses or trains. Radio over IP relies on a mesh IP network, which means there are as many connections as possible between nodes. This non-hierarchical setup allows other components to pick up the slack when one fails, and that means your fleet won’t be stuck in the dark while you wait for a technician to repair a tower.

Start Upgrading Today

Now you know some of the benefits that come with this technology, it’s time to start analyzing different RoIP applications to see which ones make sense for your fleet of buses, trains, trucks or other vehicles. Once you’re ready to start making the switch, turn to an experienced communication systems provider in your area to make recommendations for the best hardware and software to meet your organization’s needs.

The RoIP Solution to School Emergencies

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 79 percent of public schools, through the 2015-16 school year, experienced at least one incident of criminal activity, including violent crimes, or about 1.4 million crimes. Throughout the same year, 47 percent of the schools reported at least 1 serious crime to local law enforcement. With the rise of crime affecting public schools, it is clear that school officials must have a consistent and reliable way to communicate with local police.

Increased Risks to School Personnel and Students 

During the 2016-17 school year, there were more than 24 school shootings. In 2018, there were 24 school shootings where at least one person was injured. At the end of the year, 113 people, including students, were killed or injured in a place where they believed they would be safe. As sobering as these statistics are, they don’t represent all of the situations that require police intervention at schools. Local law enforcement is also called in when there’s any type of risk to life or property or when a person has been injured for other causes.

Direct School Communication Networks

Whether there’s an angry parent threatening staff, or a power line has fallen across school property, there must be a way for school personnel to contact law enforcement. Phone lines aren’t always available during emergencies. Secure voice communications over radio frequencies are often used as a primary means of communication. A radio over internet protocol network, much like a voice over IP system, gives key personnel in crisis situations a way to communicate in real-time using digital packets rather than older analog devices. These systems can also help key personell of the school in direct contact with law enforcement during crisis situations. They also provide a way for emergency response officials to get information about school situations as they happen from teachers and administrators who are trapped inside the danger zones.

Advantageous Features of RoIP Systems

Radio over IP systems offer several important benefits for schools and law enforcement.

  • One of the top advantages is the ability to communicate and exchange information that may be critical to resolving issues faster.
  • Another important feature of the RoIP system is the lack of physical and organizational requirements. School staff can remain in contact with law enforcement without a extra large investment into hardware. This advantage also reduces the financial investment necessary.
  • For rural school districts, the broad geographic coverage is a vital component of these systems. In fact, radio over IP systems may not have any coverage limitations.
  • There aren’t any frequency  licensing requirements, spectrum requirements, or regulations. School officials will be free from interference from cellular traffic.

These advantages are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the positive consequences of connecting schools with police via radio and establishing RoIP systems in public schools. In fact, the RoIP consoles can often convert older analog devices for older schools without upgraded hardware.

A Comprehensive, Affordable Solution

This useful technology is available for schools, from the youngest pre-K facilities to university systems. The inclusive systems can be implemented without significant investment and restructuring of existing communications. They open the lines of communication for school officials and public law enforcement to work closer together. RoIP for transportation outlets like bus services can be linked with schools admin office for improved safety. As communication between all parties based upon the increase of violent crimes taking place at schools in recent years.

 

P25 Communications Provide Interoperability Between Federal, State and Local Agencies

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.

Isolating Sensitive Voice Data for Transmission

Secure communication channels have long been one of the most crucial aspects of reaching successful outcomes in command and control situations. On the battlefield, voice transmission is an efficient means of providing real-time information. All types of campaigns depend voice communications through a chain of command to coordinate troops, to relay orders and disseminate directives from leadership.

Many factors have created a scenario in which military forces, elite police teams and others who rely on the secure transmission of voice and data have found themselves depending more on public IP networks. The widespread availability of service, even in the most remote areas of the world, coupled with the substantial cost savings obtained by eliminating the need for dedicated transmission networks make the use of the public internet a reality for the modern crime fighting in all types of engagement types.

Red/Black Encryption Architecture

 A longstanding concept in military COMSEC efforts is red/black encryption. The premise of the idea is to keep data separated based on its particular type – “sensitive” or “safe.”

  • Red Side Sensitive Data:

The red side of the system isolates all data that command deems as “sensitive.”  The red side receives and protects unencrypted data until encryption converts the information to “safe.” The red side of a COMSEC system stays secure through means of wire shielding and distance separation of the red and black sides, and in the case of software-controlled systems, through agency-approved isolation software.

  • Black Side Safe Data:

Once the encryption process renders the data “safe,” it moves to the black side of the system for transport. Personnel can use the Black area of the system to communicate all non-sensitive messages and transmit encrypted data received from the red side. Also, the black side receives encrypted information for transfer to the red side for deciphering.

VoIP Transmission Security

 Implementing a secure RoIP encryption measures when broadcasting voice over IP (VoIP) is a practical solution to keeping data uncompromised. One method of accomplishing this is by setting up two mirrored network systems isolated from each other except for a single secure data pathway between the two.

 When the need arises to set up a red/black dispatch, the dispatch operator sets the appropriate settings for a red/black switch to allow the applicable side to receive the message and to terminate the other side’s ability to receive. The black switch directs plain or encrypted voice data to the black side, and the red switch directs unencrypted sensitive data to the red side for processing.

Applying red/black protocol over RoIP gateways is a proven method for effectively securing voice communication. Working with a qualified encrypted communications vendor for military operations can provide a cost-effective and secure means of quick setup for battlefield communications.