Public Safety DAS and the Need for Remote Monitoring
Public Safety DAS and the Need for Remote Monitoring
July 29, 2022
In today’s world, communication systems across the United States are key areas of focus for businesses and schools as they look for ways to ensure their systems are always running efficiently without any issues occurring. Public Safety Distributed Antenna System (DAS) solutions are specifically of utmost importance as no one can afford for communications to go down during a critical situation or emergency.
What’s Public Safety DAS and Why is it Necessary?
Public Safety DAS is a type of communication system made up of several critical components that provides in-building emergency radio coverage to first responders and public safety officers. These critical components include:
Donor Antenna – Receives the signal from a public safety radio system.
Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) – Amplifies this signal from the donor antenna and distributes the signal throughout the building via a Distributed Antenna System for buildings typically up to 400,000 square feet.
Distributed Antenna System (DAS) – Provides communication capabilities through the entire building.
Battery Backup System – Ensures the system will operate even in the event of a power failure.
Note: Typically, fiber is used in place of coaxial for larger buildings or facilities with multiple buildings greater than 400,000 square feet, to avoid signal loss with longer distances and you will typically have a Master or Headend Unit and a number of Remote Units to distribute the signal throughout the building also via a DAS.
Most public Safety DAS systems in the United States are 700/800 MHz at approximately 75%. However, some are UHF at approximately 20%, and VHF at approximately 5%. If you are installing a 700/800 MHz system, it is recommended that you also install a 700/800 MHz band pass filter to avoid future issues in that frequency band, as cellular carriers may make changes that could interfere.
Public Safety DAS is vital because of signal degradation of both the downlink (receiver side of the communications) and the uplink (transmit side of the communications). This is caused by walls, windows, interior furniture, and other items found in buildings. A major contributor to signal degradation in buildings is low-e glass and cement walls.
Did you know that signal degradation can even occur in the open air, known as free space path loss? So, if signal loss can occur in open air, you can imagine the signal loss that can occur in a building with numerous things degrading the signal to and from the outside.
Public Safety DAS solutions are designed to improve the signal throughout the entire building, including those areas in larger buildings, stairwells, elevators, basements, and garages known as dead zones.
Why is Public Safety DAS Typically Mandatory in Fire Code Enforcement?
As mentioned above, radio signal degradation occurs when passing through building materials such as concrete or low-e glass. During the tragic events of September 11, 2001, first responders were unable to adequately communicate in the World Trade Center buildings. This event caused the International Code Council (IIC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to add Emergency Responder Radio Coverage (ERRC) requirements to their codebooks. Local municipalities may enhance their fire code requirements, but typical ERRC requirement elements include:
Structures larger than 50,000 square feet, or those with floors below ground
Coverage testing using a 20 grid process
Minimum of -95 dBm signal level in at least 90% of the structure (NFPA1221)
Backup power of 12-24 hours of operation (NFPA1221)
Annual certification with grid coverage and battery tests
Testing must be completed by an FCC licensed or factory certified technician
It is the responsibility of the building owner or operator to have their buildings tested by a certified professional. Fire code violations of $1000-$2000 per day are possible but can range from $100 to up to $50,000 depending on the severity and timely response of the building owner or operator.
Where Are Public Safety DAS Solutions Typically Needed?
Public Safety DAS solutions are needed in any large building or multi-building facility, including:
How to Ensure Your Public Safety DAS Solution is Working Properly
Have your equipment and system tested by a licensed professional annually or as required by your local fire code requirements
Install a remote monitoring system that can remotely monitor your system to ensure it is always operational and will send you or your service professional notifications when system issues are identified.
Challenges in Finding the Right Remote Monitoring Platform for Your Organization
Many remote monitoring systems are focused on IT services for computer and network monitoring and with so many solutions to choose from, where do you start?
Here are some things to consider:
Ease of deployment
Remote desktop applications (cloud-based)
Understand your needs and your industry applications to ensure they align with the platform features and capabilities
Features You Should Expect from a Remote Monitoring Solution
Secure login with full details of all equipment being monitored
View of all equipment being monitored from a single pane of glass to easily track devices, heartbeats, and alerts
A vendor and device agnostic solution to monitor all your customers’ devices no matter the brand or device type
Customizable dashboards to oversee device topologies, device statistics, and view critical parameter statuses
Set up email and/or SMS notifications based on device conditions and rules for field service windows (avoid too many notifications or false notifications)
Remotely update the configuration or software of a single device or group of devices
Set up triggers for desired outcomes based on device or interface conditions/measures
Visualizations of various device interface measures and their up/down statuses
Ability to organize devices into hierarchical groups and accounts
Remotely configure network settings and SNMP attributes for devices under management
Know exactly what to expect when your crew goes out on a truck roll
Integration with existing systems in place (i.e., ticketing systems)
Cloud-based platform with a low cost of deployment
No onsite server or software to own and maintain
Quick and easy solution to deploy to you and/or all your customers
Customize and meet your changing needs
Introducing the Tessco Observer Platform
Tessco offers a device-agnostic management platform that provides end-to-end monitoring and management of all supported devices in a multi-vendor network. This service is offered in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model and is customizable and scalable to meet each customer’s unique needs.
The Tessco Observer platform helps mitigate the challenges of remotely managing devices across a multi-vendor environment by providing users with a secure, web-based management portal containing real-time measurements, insight, and configuration capabilities.
Why choose the Tessco Observer platform?
Efficiency & Cost Savings
Fragmented Device Management Solutions
Avoiding a non-operational Public Safety DAS system during an emergency is more critical now than ever.
We can help with an affordable cost-effective solution to track all your equipment no matter the brand or type. We are a vendor agnostic solution that allows you to monitor and track all your equipment and all your customers under a single pane of glass. Contact us for more information or to schedule a demo.