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7 things you may not know about how commercial radio can be used to communicate over vast distances during a State of Emergency.
A State of Emergency is a situation in which the government is empowered to perform actions or impose policies that in normal circumstances would not be permitted. A government can be expected to declare such a state during a natural disaster, civil unrest, armed conflict, medical pandemic, epidemic or other biosecurity risks.
1 – The Requirement
A State of Emergency requires Governmental organisations, including the Emergency Services, MOD etc, to elevate their readiness state and implement specific contingency plans. All agencies will adopt their own command structure but for coordination and control, it is imperative that each command structure is supported by reliable and compatible communications. The majority of communications systems depend on terrestrial infrastructure (telephone/mobile/radio) that could be overloaded, sabotaged, or even damaged by a natural disaster. The provision of reactive and reliable communications across the nation would be critical to ensure the normal daily function of all governmental organisations including the Military, Emergency Services, Local Government and additional agencies.
2 – The Solution
Spectra Group manufactures and delivers a satellite communications capability called SlingShot that is deployed globally by a number of Armed Forces delivering voice and critical data (situational awareness, co-ordinates, GPS, SMS etc). It provides range extension (Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS)) for radios without the requirement to install and rely on expensive terrestrial networks, networks that may not be available and could be destroyed or damaged. The range extension provides coverage in excess of 1,000+ miles in diameter.
3 – Satellite Capability
The SlingShot satellite service utilises an assured and uncontested channel through the provision of a 25kHz leased channel operating in the L-band frequencies. L-band, originally used globally for the Safety of Souls at Sea and now in operation for land, sea and air applications, is a high-availability proven solution. L-band is not affected by the normal environmental factors such as clouds, fog, rain, storm and vegetation enabling connectivity in all weather conditions, day or night. With L-band the user communicates with as many outstations as required with a simple push to talk radio net.
4 – Connectivity
SlingShot can be directly connected to a radio, requiring the radio to provide Frequency Modulation (FM) waveform and a 25kHz channel. This covers the majority of professional commercial and military radios. Multiple radio systems can be connected to the same network using SlingShot in this way, delivering crucial interoperability between Emergency organisations.
5 – Applicability
SlingShot provides systems on the person, in vehicles, in fixed-wing and rotary aircraft and on maritime platforms. Because SlingShot uses omni-directional antennas, there is no requirement to point the antenna to acquire the satellite, which ensures uninterrupted Communications On The Move (COTM). SlingShot can connect to a number of radios within the VHF military, VHF commercial and UHF military frequency ranges.
6 – Data
SlingShot supports data and enables the passage of information across all levels of command, as required. The data capability supports critical applications such as situational awareness, tracking, trace, reporting and biometric analysis.
7 – Simplicity
SlingShot is a simple to use capability that does not require any terrestrial networks and can support inter-agency communications across a number of different radio systems. It provides BLOS communications supporting Governments (at all levels) and the organisations required to support the ongoing contingency operations dispersed over substantial geographical distances.
The benefits of using SlingShot in these circumstances are: SlingShot does not require any terrestrial infrastructure that becomes stressed during major events; The system is extremely easy to deploy; it provides systems to support the person, on rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, vehicles and maritime platforms; the service is simply installed and enables inter-agency interoperability by connecting to the current service radio antenna connection; SlingShot can pass the users’ crypto and therefore can allow the current security of the user to be maintained; tested to demanding military standards ensuring robust and reliable equipment; training is minimal due to the system being designed as simplistically as possible to allow individuals to maintain their focus on their current task; the satellite channel is resilient, it provides an uncontested channel allocation enabling Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) commercial satellite bandwidth and communications.