Last week, Mutualink released a new whitepaper which had an unusual solution proposed in regard to a nationwide interoperability architecture. Specifically, the Mutualink paper called for using an IP-based approach, which would provide some specific advantages over the standard hub-and-spoke version of interoperability architecture.
Perhaps the greatest advantage in using IP-based intelligence over a hub-and-spoke design is that it provides better control at the local level. Those concerns that deal in critical infrastructure-related matters--like utility companies, healthcare facilities, and several others--will likely welcome the move as it provides better ability to communicate to their patrons--and thus contribute to the protection of public safety concerns--than the older methods.
The whitepaper went on to mention that, while hub-and-spoke was a fine solution on a technical level, it left out coverage for several key issues, like the individual "sovereignty" of the separate systems that comprised the "spokes" of the hub-and-spoke design since one particular entity--the "hub"--was supreme over each of the individual "spokes."
That's where Mutualink's IP-based solution would be particularly relevant, as it would establish a network where each individual "spoke" was on an even keel with the rest, able to share communications as need be, and able to respond to other networks' needs regardless of their geographic location.
Colin McWay, Mutualink's president, described the issues in his remarks, “The first responder will be able to have this great new fast pipe, but what about all the places they have to respond to? What we’re saying is, ‘Here’s a way that everybody now can participate together, and we’ve solved some of those kinds of problems that have historically existed.’ From our perspective, the big problem is making people be willing to participate on these networks.”
With a 700 MHz LTE (News - Alert) network planned for use for the first responders McWay mentions, it's easy to see why some would want to see modifications made to a network that keeps some parts of a network subordinate to others. After all, why install speed bumps and traffic signals on a freeway? The point of making a large-scale pipeline for first responders to use is so that they can use it quickly and without a lot of impediments between one point and the other. Changing the network from hub-and-spoke to an IP-based model would certainly help to clear up some of the slowdown between one point and the other--after all, Mutualink has already put this model into play in several operations in both New Jersey and California with positive results--so why not go with it?
Setting up new networks that change the entire architecture may not be easily--or inexpensively, always a concern in bad economic times--done, but in the long run, they may well offer better solutions overall. Interoperability presents both challenge and opportunity, and could work out pretty well in the end.