The public safety super phone

What the law enforcement—and public safety network in general—offer police that commercial carriers cannot is the ruggedized equipment built to public safety standards


In anticipation for the yet-to-come nationwide broadband network for first responders*, multinational telecom companies have been at work developing the first LE-only mobile phones that do a whole lot more than yesterday’s commercial offerings. (*In March, Congress passed D-Block spectrum legislation that finances the build-out of the broadband network.) Motorola and Thales have devices ready to go in the next year or so that will offer LTE compatibility and will communicate off the national broadband wireless network currently under construction (figuratively) by standards-creating governing bodies like the National Institute of Technology and The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council.

“We are advancing a completely new category of public safety multimedia devices that provide first responders with unprecedented access to powerful applications and always-on public safety broadband,” says Bob Schassler, senior vice president in Radio Solutions at Motorola.

The devices are similar in offerings, which include a handheld “phone” (though both companies are reluctant to use that terminology, as well as Motorola was not crazy about the idea of calling a such device as a “public safety super phone”) company-exclusive plans for core apps for each device (a camera/video app, for example) and the ability for developers to create apps for the platforms similar to how the Apple and Android markets currently operate.

Motorola Solutions’ LEX 700 Mission Critical Handheld delivers a compact, rugged form factor with intuitive user interface and access to multimedia applications.

Bob Andreas, with Thales USA Defense & Security, explains the company’s handheld device will also offer PTT and other features integrated into a Long Term Evolution solution to accompany the national broadband network currently underway for U.S. public safety. Andreas, who has a background in aerospace and security communications, says Thales’ solution will include a network management system using the LTE core broadband network, a push-to-talk smartphone device operating on the LTE network and applications that support first responders in the field.
Both the Thales device and Motorola’s LEX 700 were unveiled at the International Wireless Communications Expo in Las Vegas this February. Take a look at the features in store for the future of LE mobile communications.

Motorola’s LEX 700 device

The 1 Ghz dual-core processor LEX 700 has the advantage of building off Motorola’s commercial-grade success. The new handheld mobile phone with a 4-inch touchscreen looks as though it could be a phone new to the consumer market, giving it a slightly covert appearance. When you get a hands-on look, however, there are features built into the LEX meant to deliver specifically to the law enforcement mission.

The phone has four stationary buttons at the bottom of its face and a touchscreen interface that navigates similar to popular smartphones, like the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S II, with screens displaying widgets such as a weather app and other core apps like a real-time video intelligence application that provides a shared operational view of an incident with high-quality, real-time video pulled from fixed and mobile cameras or streamed to the field from the command center. Ryan Seick, a product manager for the LEX 700 Mission Critical Handheld device at Motorola Solutions, explains several features:

Wise design: The buttons and jacks around the perimeter of the device itself were designed considering the user, such as the push-to-talk button, volume keys and headset jack on the left side of the unit.

“When I push the PTT button, there’s no opposing buttons on the opposite side, so I won’t inadvertently change when I really want to talk to somebody [unlike] some consumer-grade devices,” Seick says. “Also, everything’s on one side, so if I’m sitting there with [it in]the holster, my headset jack and everything is at one side of the device, so it’s not wrapping around or getting caught up from the device as well.”

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