How can you tell if your radio system is resilient?
FCS recently released a white paper detailing the importance of a resilient radio communications system ( extracts shown below). Too often organisations are purchasing radio systems/solutions with the belief that they are resilient when they are letting them down when it comes to a threatening situation, power failure or a lone worker has a life-threatening injury.
DCRS, an FCS member, is here to help you, to ensure you have a resilient radio communication system(s) for everyday functionality and a fully operational system for when your organisation finds themselves in an emergency situation.
Based on our 30+ years of experience we will ensure you will never be let down.
Take a look at our clients’ stories here >
Legal Measures to Consider – The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act
This guidance does not seek to provide a comprehensive analysis of the legal position regarding the provision of suitable radio equipment that will enable your company to meet its obligations towards safety. Management teams are encouraged to investigate the law if they are not already fully aware of it.
What Does your Radio Communication System need to do?
When purchasing a radio communication system, it will prove necessary for the company to identify what actions the radio system will be required to support and how. Then, the requirements should be further refined to include how much of such communication there will be and how many people will be involved and where they will be.
However, because these communications are for operational purposes, it will be necessary to characterise them regarding how important they are and therefore develop a view on what type and level of failure can be tolerated. A fundamental question then is “will the equipment work when we need it to work or is there an unacceptable risk it will not work?” This is a surprisingly difficult question. At the same time, over-specification can be expensive.
Therefore, your first question must be about whether the application for which you are buying the system needs a resilient solution at all. And if it does, what level of resilience is necessary.
The FCS 5-Level Scheme seeks to help professionals to identify the right level of resilience for their circumstances. Not more. Not less.
What is Resilience?
At its simplest level, resilience in a radiocommunications system is its overall ability to provide the required functionality when and where it is needed. The list of possibilities is very long indeed.
|Infrastructure Location||Whether the location is compatible with continued operation. For example, is fire or flooding a hazard and if so at what risk? What are the possibilities of damage from other agencies like icing?|
|Physical Security||What are the defences against vandalism or theft?
Is there a fence that could be erected (some defensive measures are not possible due to planning restrictions)?
|Power Continuity||What happens when there is an interruption in the mains power supply? How long before the interruption has an impact?|
|Surges / Lightning||Will the system survive a lightning strike on the antenna or a power surge through the wiring (which may also be from a strike on a related equipment, perhaps a significant distance away)?|
|Site Installation / Wiring||Has the system been properly installed to a professional standard? Are there undue strains on the wiring looms etc?
Will the antenna fall down or twist unduly in a storm etc? Are the cables properly clamped?
|Equipment Reliability||What is the life expectancy of the equipment used in the system? Do you have information on the mean time to failure (or equivalent) and thus the likely maintenance arrangements necessary?|
|OTA Modulation / Protocol||Is the Over the Air (OTA) protocol recognized as reliable to the desired level3?
What evidence exists to support claims made on this?
|Points of Failure||What are the areas where a single failure could result in loss of the system operation? This also includes third-party service provision (such as lines to other sites).
Most properly resilient schemes do not have single points of failure. However, this is highly dependent on the level of resilience desired. Sometimes it isn’t so easy to avoid single points of failure in inter-site communications for example.
|Control Over System||Does the proposed communication solution permit changes in systems to improve resilience or are certain critical elements under the control of third parties over whom you have no influence?|
|Cyber Security||Are all computers fully protected against cyber-crime? Are there any backdoors through ancillary equipment? Are staff procedures in place to assess this?|
|Radio Interference Hazard||What level of outside radio interference can the system handle. Has the radio spectrum plan been chosen to minimize this risk? Has the necessary work been conducted to identify local sources of radio signals to check if they represent a hazard and at what risk? Is the use of the radio spectrum licensed?|
|Maintenance / Repair Schedule||Have procedures and schedules for regular maintenance and fault correction been established?
What are the stated repair times etc? Do they meet the operational need?
|Calculated Availability||Does the proposal include a calculation of the overall availability of the system? It is important that what is being included in the calculation is clearly understood. For example, are there any maintenance activities that are not under your control included in the Availability, or are they not included?|
|Over-Loading||What does the overall system do when it starts to experience over-loading at various parts in the system? Who controls the behaviour? Can your important calls get priority in a meaningful way?|