The 9/11 attacks affected all of us in more ways that we can describe, but it was also very important for the evolution of public safety communications – this was the place where the idea of an interoperable emergency services network was born. It was radio incompatibility in New York City between NYPD and FDNY that provided public awareness for Congress to pass the legislation for FirstNet.  With this memory, it was deeply meaningful for Parallel Wireless and its’ ecosystem partners to come to NYC to install a FirstNet compatible Band 14 demonstration network covering Central Park for the 2016 TCS New York Marathon.

The NYC Marathon is an annual event that courses though the five boroughs of New York City.  The finish line is near Columbus Circle in the southwest corner of Central Park.  Wireless network coverage focuses on the twenty block area north of Columbus Circle and then east a few blocks into the Park along the runners’ route.  That’s where the surveillance cameras were concentrated.

But with Parallel Wireless having previously installed Band 14 Public Safety LTE networks at Super Bowl 50, Lollapalooza, RNC, and more, what NEW capabilities were demonstrated at the NYC Marathon network? The network consisted of Parallel Wireless CWS nodes being configured and optimized by Parallel Wireless HetNet Gateway which made the network easy to install, easy to optimize.

The end users (safety officials and race officials) were able to communicate by voice, send data, and monitor video on ruggedized Sonim devices. These were the new capabilities we demonstrated:

  • Enabled officials to monitor real-time video surveillance cameras from handheld devices – Band 14 Sonim smartphones.  They were able to see security cameras when moving around the finish line – today monitoring is only possible at the “tent locations” on monitors, but not for security teams on the streets.  Most importantly, at the Marathon, Parallel Wireless wanted to conduct a test of video upload and download in order to measure the effects that live video had on the network.  This provided detailed data on network performance that was shared with FirstNet’s research arm, the PSCR.  With the maximum video stream upload of 1MB compressed video, the throughput from each security camera was sufficient to the end user using Band 14’s 10 MHz upload channel. These finding will be used in building the national public safety network.
  • One of the marathon exercise’s objectives was to test the Band 14 network amid an urban scene clogged with RF signals that might cause interference. This is where Parallel Wireless HetNet Gateway played an important role in mitigating interface and prioritizing video traffic.
  • This was also the first example of enabling IoT for public safety by connecting not only end user devices, but also a network of surveillance cameras in an interoperable Band 14 network.

We are thankful to the FCC for the license grant, to FirstNet for their on-going support, and to our ecosystem partners that made this exercise possible:

  • DC Rentals provides Marathon operations with hundreds of LMR radios and manages the camera network.
  • Sonim, provider of tough Android-based dual mode handsets.
  • Sierra Wireless, provider of flexible routers that provide both Wi-Fi and wired access to the field cameras with backhaul via Parallel Wireless’ Band 14 network.
  • The New York Ethical Society and its Fieldstone School on Central Park which graciously accommodated our mount of antennas and network gear on their roof.

As an ecosystem, we will be able to provide first responders with interoperable wireless broadband network.