By Mike Hauser
When you think about a two-way radio system, what do you envision?
Most likely, a push-to-talk device that enables you to instantly connect with a group of people with the simple press of a button. Two-way technology may have gotten its start this way, but the advent of digital technology offers many more benefits to today’s two-way radio users.
In addition to one-to-many connectivity, today’s radio systems can incorporate multi-line color displays to relay important data and text information, as well as integrate with other critical technologies, such as fire alarms, access control, and building automation systems, to receive real-time data – including alarms and other potential failure info – that could slow your processes down.
Below, we’ve compiled three real-world benefits of integrating two-way radios with critical technology …
1. Put Safety First
Imagine a modern surveillance system in a school: It can be configured to monitor hallways, playgrounds, and entrances. Newer surveillance systems incorporate artificial intelligence, learning to detect unusual movement by gathering and comparing images. As a result, they can be configured to instantly share a detected anomaly with everyone who needs to know.
If something out of the ordinary happens – such as heavy, one-way student traffic in a hallway that’s typically unoccupied at that time – the system can identify this inconsistency and send a message to a nearby security officer equipped with a digital radio. Using text and speech, the officer is made aware of the specific event (“people are rapidly moving in the north hallway and going out the exit”) and knows how to react, saving time and possibly saving lives.
2. Detect Equipment Malfunctions Right Away
If your building’s air conditioning goes down in the middle of a hot August afternoon, how long does it take your maintenance crew to discover the failure? After the offices start heating up, people start complaining, and work processes are interrupted?
When something goes awry (performance falls outside of preset parameters), building automation systems integrated with two-way radios can send notifications to those who need to know: the maintenance crew, HVAC technicians, etc.
If a boiler in your manufacturing plant malfunctions, how soon will the repair process begin? Instead of requiring someone to remain stationary to monitor the equipment (or relying on someone to discover the issue as they walk by), systems can be integrated with two-way radios to alert the proper people when they need immediate attention (water level is too low, temperature is too high, etc.). Detected problems can be corrected quickly to maintain optimal production levels.
3. Connect with Groups Quickly
Two-way radios allow users to take their offices to the shop floor, the school playground, the basement storage room, across a large campus, on vacation, or wherever else they need to go.
Even something as simple as finding a missing tool or sending a message to another department goes a lot smoother when you can reach everyone at once to ask a question or share information – instead of returning to your office to send an email or making several phone calls.
But I’ll Just Use My Cellphone …
Smartphones have come a long way, allowing us to untether from computers and communicate on the go. But they also have their limitations.
First, smartphones primarily support only one-to-one voice communication. If you want to reach your entire team or a specific group of people, you have to call everyone individually or set up an audio bridge and ask everyone to join. Two-way radio conversations can be one-to-one, one-to-many, or one-to-all.
Second, cell systems aren’t nearly as reliable. In addition to spotty service (depending on your location), cellphone towers can only handle so many users at once. Think about the last time you were in a crowded stadium trying to make a call or use data. When thousands of people are trying to use their phones at the same time (during an emergency, for example), some inevitably won’t get through. A two-way radio system is owned, managed, configured, and controlled by you; it will perform flawlessly in the moments that matter. A two-way system’s performance won’t be impacted by an unexpected number of users, your proximity to an offsite tower, or someone else’s higher priority. Two-way radio systems are custom designed for your needs – not compromised by the needs of the masses.
Third, smartphones can’t always connect quickly during a crisis. How fast can you establish important calls with your smartphone? Communication isn’t as instantaneous as it is with a two-way radio (push a button and start talking).
Lastly, smartphones are less durable than two-way radios. They break easily when dropped, screens can be damaged (making them unreliable or unusable), their batteries don’t last as long, and they’re not built for dusty, dirty, or wet environments (even rugged smartphones don’t compare to the military-grade specs of some two-way radios).
Of course, it doesn’t make sense for everyone to carry two-way radios. In those cases, smartphones and two-way radio systems can be linked via an application like Motorola WAVE. This app allows those who don’t always carry a two-way radio to remotely monitor their two-way radio system when needed, connect with team members quickly, or send critical messages to security or maintenance teams who carry two-way radios.
Moving Toward Two-Way Integration
The trick to integrating two-way radios with other technologies, such as access control and fire alarm systems, is to make sure all your technology choices will integrate well. This is where CEC comes in: Not only do we have a two-way communications team with decades of experience, but we also have the resources and other in-house technology experts to help you seamlessly integrate your radio system with AV, fire and security, IT, and healthcare technologies.
What information do you need to receive quickly that you’re not getting right now? Tell us what you want to accomplish; we can create a roadmap unique to you, taking into account the technology you already have and what you may need in the future. We can show you how to plan a technology solution that moves at your speed – while adhering to your budget requirements. Want to learn more? I’m happy to answer your questions! You can reach me here.
Mike Hauser is CEC’s radio group general manager. With more than three decades of Motorola two-way radio experience, Mike began his career at CEC in 1997 as the RF service manager. Today, he helps customers get the information they need instantly – for improved safety and efficiency – by integrating radio technology with other systems.