Last issue Martin Chappell, general manager two-way radios, Motorola Solutions, wrote about customer feedback on MOTOTRBO* radios generally. In this issue, he looks at applications (apps) for two-way radios: how our customer use them, and the benefits and results they are experiencing.
Apps in the radio environment
Whether making deliveries, loading trains, driving buses or unloading cargo, apps can change the way people collaborate by simplifying everyday tasks. Apps enable workers to focus on completing a task rather than how to complete it.
Digital mobile radio (DMR) apps allow workers to do more with two-way radios beyond voice communications, whether it’s managing workloads, recording calls or contacting users outside the radio network. Digital two-way radios and accessories allow teams to communicate clearly and conveniently, but adding apps simplifies operations, makes workers safer and increases productivity.
This is what Motorola Solutions’ customers say about some of hundreds of compatible business apps available:
These apps follow workers, vehicles and business assets in real-time to ensure maximum safety and productivity. Organisations can also view routes, set up GeoFencing and log radio movements using a configurable set of rules.
With the capacity for real-time personnel monitoring, even across vast territories, for many of our customers the main benefit of GPS functionality is improved worker safety.
is the toughest endurance motorsport in the Asia-Pacific region, with competitors on motorbikes and quad bikes tackling more than 3000 kilometres over eight days. Riders can be detected via GPS at any point, with faster response times in cases of incidents.
Justin Hunt, director, Australasian Safari, explains that the new system has dramatically increased competitor safety: “This is one of the most isolated motorsport events in the world, so it’s fantastic to be able to sit back and watch on the mapping screen, knowing everyone is OK. The network and radio system has taken out a lot of the risks.”
Vittorio Cox, manager, security, traffic & concierge, estate management at the University of Canberra
agrees: “GPS monitoring (via the updated TRBOnet software) also helps with staff safety … For students using the help points throughout the campus, GPS and location finding helps the controller dispatch the nearest available officer.”
GPS capability can also reveal issues such as productivity and occupational, health and safety concerns:
“Using GPS we can establish how effective patrols are, and how busy staff are. We learned that staff do up to 16 kms per shift, so now we can manage fatigue and work out how many shifts per week is too many for staff. What was potentially a long term employment issue can be more effectively managed, “ says Cox. (University of Canberra
Alarms/lone worker protection
Similarly, DMR apps can improve the safety of personnel, particularly lone workers, with automatic alarms that provide an immediate response in times of emergency.
Worker safety issues are currently keenly felt in New Zealand. In 2013, 10 forestry workers died in New Zealand, and the country’s first forestry-related manslaughter charges were laid. For Dennis Hayes Logging
director, Jeremy Hayes, worker safety is paramount:
“Tree fellers often work on opposite sides of a hill, unseen by anyone. Previously they had to call in every 30 minutes, but now the radio starts an alert tone at 27 minutes. If they don’t call in within two minutes, an emergency beacon is sent to the whole crew. Workers can get on with the job without worrying about keeping track of time yet they’re still monitored for safety in the lone-worker situation.”
“We have better safety for staff and students. With MOTOTRBO, we know which staff member is calling even if they can’t speak for some reason.” (University of Canberra
Man-down functionality also helps worker safety. In the logging industry, this is a measure to protect workers in a dangerous work environment:
“Every morning, we record which radio each worker has, so if the emergency beacon goes off we know who is affected. Also, we plan to implement the man-down function. If the handset is horizontal for more than a certain period of time, the alarm goes off,” says Hayes (DH Logging
Continuous voice recording offers opportunities to play back calls for analysis, reporting or training purposes. This capability can be extremely useful in an industry where post-incident analysis may be required to determine the existence of safe work practices.
Hayes of DH Logging
explains: “We record all voice calls, which is essential for any incident analysis. Where trees are dragged up the flying fox system we have colour coded zones (ie red means high risk) to determine where guys should stand. We can record employees as they change zones, and are considering GPS tracking functionality on the handhelds to ensure that employees are the correct distance away from the working ropes.”
For some customers, voice recording can provide useful evidence of what really happened: “For complaint resolution I simply listen to the recording of a conversation to demonstrate whether or not the [security] officers responded appropriately or not,” says Andrew Brewer, manager, security, Victoria University.
Text messages and emails enable easy communication with other devices when voice communication is not optimal. Text messages can be broadcast, group or private, and users can text back to the dispatcher, a function utilised by DH Logging
“to the whole group or an individual.”
Victoria University: “Text messages in loud environments, where the officer selects a message from a drop-down list, is an efficient way to send instructions or receive acknowledgement.”
Other types of DMR apps include:
WAVE: allows communication with MOTOTRBO radios with an easy-to-use Android or iOS application on a smart phone or tablet.
Job ticketing: create, assign and monitor job tickets through the radio network to deliver routine tasks more efficiently. Radio users can accept or decline the job ticket by simply pushing a button.
Radio infrastructure: communicate between radios located on different networks. Interconnect geographically distributed systems and set up permanent and dynamic bridging of voice and data calls.
Data transmission and telemetry: monitor and control remote equipment or facility alarms and remotely control doors at the touch of a button with advanced telemetry solutions.
Migration to digital: applications for migration from analogue to digital ensure smooth operations during system migration and can be used to gradually replace analogue radios in existing systems.
Voice dispatch: provides communications between the dispatcher and remote radios. Make broadcast, group, private, remote or emergency calls even faster using programmable shortcuts.
Fleet administration: efficiently manage fleet operations and remotely control radios. Get live status updates and configure the radio to send online/offline reports to the server.
Telemetry: monitor and manage remote equipment from your control room.
Event logging: log system events such as voice calls, text messages and status changes, allowing operators and managers to monitor and analyse all activity and performance. Customise rules, filter and group events or generate reports detailing location and status.
RF coverage monitoring: maximise your system performance and make sure everyone is connected with RF coverage maps. These provide a graphical representation of network coverage based on the RSSI level of signals received from GPS-enabled MOTOTRBO radios.
Phone interconnect: make and receive calls between MOTOTRBO radios and telephones and also allow a dispatcher to make and receive call through the dispatcher console.
Apps key to worker safety
Apps give DMR the capacity to do so much more than simply voice communications. They can increase efficiency, improve productivity, enhance visibility of operations and most importantly, as described by our customers above, play a major role in keeping workers safe.
* MOTOTRBO is Motorola’s digital mobile radio (DMR) portfolio.