If you manage some of the 800,000 law enforcement officers in the US, you likely are always looking for new ways to streamline your operations. Push-to-talk over cellular (PoC) technologies are an important alternative to traditional radios. They get officers and officials in contact with each other while on the field directly from a smartphone or PoC radio device.
When considering push-to-talk over cellular (POC) for an organization’s communication needs, policymakers find the proverbial best of both worlds within this technology. The self-explanatory title merges the benefits of advanced walkie-talkie features with the coverage enjoyed by cellular network users. POC’s combination of affordability, expandability, and versatility allow it to meet public safety agencies’ requirements in large metropolitan areas and rural jurisdictions. Additionally, POC can enhance the productivity of businesses such as transportation, delivery, construction, industrial, entertainment, security, or any organization with a need for state-of-the-art communication.
Here, we’re going to talk about two-way radios and how they work. Read on to learn why it’s important to employ these systems ASAP.
What Is Push to Talk Over Cellular (PoC)?
PoC combines the basic concept of a walkie-talkie with modern cellular technology. They combine communications into a single device. This device looks and feels like a radio, but connects using cellular connections, not traditional radio technology.
PoC technologies were introduced in the early 2000s. They were designed to support 2G and 2.5G networks. Over time, they have evolved to support intense data applications with 4G/LTE coverage.
Efficient communication is mandatory in law enforcement so that officers can work together to stay safe and solve cases. They must also be able to communicate with their command staff and dispatchers to receive updates. For long-range communication or transports, the person that an officer needs to contact might not be close enough for traditional radios, and PoC devices provide an alternative solution.
How Does Push-to-Talk Over Cellular (POC) Work?
With PoC, you get greater coverage than a simple radio would give you. It lets you communicate with anyone using the 4G or 5G networks similar to what your smartphone provides you. You can access it as a smartphone app, meaning that the user doesn’t need to carry multiple communication devices while in the field.
PoC is also a simple technology that requires no more infrastructure than a smartphone. You don’t need to download multiple pieces of expensive new software or link your phone to other hardware. It’s all done within a simple app interface that you can download from a reputable provider.
You can connect as many users as possible to a PoC network. This makes it an effective tool for large law enforcement teams or those collaborating with other police units or precincts.
Group calling is also made easier with PoC applications. It’s easy to develop specific talk groups and communicate with multiple people at once. Updates can be pushed over the air (OTA), allowing for remote management. Traditional radios made this challenging because the user would need to put time and effort into linking multiple devices together (plus repeaters, new software, etc.)
Benefits of Push-to-Talk Over Cellular (POC) Technology
Push-to-Talk Over Cellular: Global Coverage, Clear Transmissions, and Customized Communications
Existing 3G and 4G technology means push-to-talk over cellular can easily provide coverage anywhere a cell phone can operate. In the continental United States, cellular coverage incorporates most populated areas, including many rural locations. This equates to POC’s ability to function without the limitations of traditional two-way radios that are often restricted to small geographical areas, even with the use of repeaters. POC can work across the nation or around the globe.
Users of traditional band radios are familiar with transmissions that are identified with the less than technical term, garbled. Add the inclusion of static and messages often have to be repeated, delayed, or worse, misunderstood. With POC technology, transmissions are clear and information exchanges flow smoothly between users. While interruptions or misinterpretations in communication can be problematic during the normal course of business, they can become a matter of life or death for public safety agencies or others who rely on their radio as a lifeline.
Another advantage of POC is the ability to develop specific talk groups. Most people who have used two-way radios are aware of the time and effort it takes to call a particular person on the main operational channel, have them respond, and request them to go to an alternate talk-around frequency. This is usually done to limit radio traffic on the main channel, but the process itself disrupts communication on the very channel one is trying to preserve. With POC technology, conversations between two individuals are easily established without disrupting a shared, all-inclusive main channel. Further, the ability of customized talk-groups allows for communications between specific team members without broadcasting the exchange to everyone with a radio.
Enhanced Safety Features of Push-to-Talk Over Cellular
When someone needs help, one of the most critical pieces of information is knowing the location of the person requiring assistance. It is no coincidence the first utterance of most 911 dispatch operators answering the call for help is some version of, “where is your emergency?” Once the location is determined, the additional steps of providing assistance will quickly follow.
The GPS feature of POC allows others with authorized access to know each team member’s location with a mobile device. When someone is unable to relay their whereabouts due to an injury or other emergency, dispatchers, supervisors, or other field personnel can quickly determine where help might be needed. While individual circumstances will dictate the type of response, GPS technology and real-time data will assist in ensuring all involved know the vital information of where help is needed. Consider two brief scenarios as examples:
- A delivery driver was expected to drop a package at a residence in a rural part of town and was about 10 minutes late scanning the delivery code indicating the package had arrived. Company policy requires the dispatcher to check on the driver via the POC radio system. All other transmissions with that driver and others throughout the day have been clear, demonstrating the system is functioning correctly. When the driver does not answer, dispatchers use the GPS feature to locate the POC mobile device. Another driver in the area responds and finds the unresponsive employee’s truck had veered into a ditch on a largely untraveled road. He sustained minor injuries but was unable to free himself from the vehicle or access his radio. Had it not been for the rapid response, his condition may have worsened, and his wait for help would have been significantly longer.
- In the second scenario, using a computer aided dispatch system a police officer conducted a traffic stop near an industrial warehouse district. She followed procedure by notifying dispatch of her location, the vehicle description, and the tag number. As is customary, a few minutes later, she was heard on the radio checking the license of the driver. A few moments later, about the same time that dispatch notified the officer that the subject had both a suspended license and an outstanding arrest warrant, in an understandably elevated tone, she called out that the driver had fled on foot. Her last transmission was that she was running in an attempt to catch him.
Nearby units are quickly on their way, but her exact location is not immediately known. The activation of the incorporated emergency button signals to others that she needs help, and her precise location is pinpointed through GPS. A good can dispatcher quickly relayed to responding officers that she is about ¼ mile north of her patrol car, on the west side of a furniture warehouse. The first back-up officer finds her in a struggle with a suspect, and the two are quickly able to secure him without injury. In the middle of a foot pursuit, which turned into a physical altercation with a wanted suspect, the officer was unable to use her voice to summon assistance. However, the emergency button and location feature of the POC mobile device allowed for help to find her without delay.
Affordability of Push-to-Talk Over Cellular (POC)
Traditional two-way radio systems often require massive communication infrastructure undertakings. Buying, renting, or leasing access can often be expensive, and those costs are ultimately passed on to the user of the radio. POC uses existing cellular networks and is, therefore, not only more reliable but less expensive to the end-user. The built-in back-up feature of modern cellular technology equates to increased productivity for POC users. Finally, expansive coverage of cellular service easily allows for POC to provide national and international communications that are secure, clear, and economical.
10-8 Systems Push-to-Talk Over Cellular (PoC) Technology
10-8 is a top provider of PoC technologies. We ensure that your speech is clear so that others can receive your message. When you speak and send small voice packets through our platform, you can rest assured that it will come out clearly on the other end.
Our PoC technologies come with dozens of awesome features in addition to a clear connection. Our computer-aided dispatch system doesn’t just allow for voice transmission but also serves as a hub for all of an officer’s needs. Features you can access include crime reports, unit status monitoring, updates, self-initiated callouts, mapping, emergency button access, and more.
Invest in Two-Way Connectivity Today
Now that you know the basics of push-to-talk over cellular technologies, it’s time to begin using them to streamline your law enforcement operations. Our experts are committed to helping you find solutions that work for your specific applications. Contact us for a free system demo and pricing information today.