Almost 6,000 people attended the 2018 APCO International Annual Conference & Expo that was held on August 5-8 in Las Vegas. Attendees ranged from law enforcement and fire service workers, emergency medical services, government agencies, service providers and commercial vendors.
More than 275 vendors from a range of safety communications products and services, launched new products, provided equipment to test drive and took time to meet with conference attendees to discuss purchases and problems.
The conference provided attendees an opportunity to learn more about frontline telecommunicators, leadership development, communication center management, cutting edge issues, technology and more at more than 100 individual sessions.
“APCO was a great show for public safety industry professionals looking for solutions in their jurisdictions,” Comba Marketing Manager JR Wakabayashi told Connected Real Estate Magazine. “You could find anything from two-way radios, PSAP management hardware and software and more including in-building public safety communications solutions like Comba’s.”
Comba got the opportunity to showcase one of its newest products during the APCO conference, the CriticalPoint™ Public Safety UHF BDA solution, which supports frequencies from 450MHz to 512MHz and supports INTERNAL one-window or dual-window filters for various passbands within the NEMA 4 enclosure to lower overall costs, reduce installation costs and save space.
“APCO provided Comba with the perfect opportunity to showcase our public safety solutions including our just released UHF BDA to both system integrators who install systems, to AHJ’s (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) and public safety network engineers who design and approve systems to be put online to protect the public,” Wakabayashi said.
Perhaps one of the more critical breakout sessions in regard to the relationship between public safety, wireless and commercial real estate was the “North Bay Wildfires: Lessons Learned from REDCOM Fire and EMS Dispatch” that took place on August 6.
Aaron Abbot from REDCOM, which provides centralized emergency fire and EMS dispatching to emergency response agencies in Sonoma County, CA recalled the North Bay Wildfires that took place on Sonoma County on October 8 through October 29, 2017. During the fires, call volumes rose more than seven times their normal rate, as 10 dispatchers received 365 calls per hour. Dispatchers who were handling calls could see flames out their windows and had to evacuate.
Radio communications were down for almost 30 minutes because a repeater site burned down. The remaining radio infrastructure was checked from web cams—if any further radio resources had been lost four different agencies would have been affected, including REDCOM. At time of the fires, no protocol was in place to tell people how to evacuate an approaching fire, but now thanks to a partnership with the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED), a protocol is in place.
Admiral Ron Hewitt and John Merrill presented during the “Update on DHS’ Efforts to Improve Emergency Communications” session. Merrill, the Director of Office for Interoperability and Compatibility at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided updates on the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Apex Program, which conducts research and development to better protect and connect first responders. He also discussed a number of integration demonstrations the NGFR program tested and showcased the new technologies’ interoperability, development and testing of artificial intelligence for first responders, as well as the jamming exercises that recently took place.
Meanwhile, Admiral Hewitt, Director of the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) at DHS provided an update on a number of programs at OEC geared towards improving public safety communications’ interoperability.