Mission Critical Communications Explained

Mission Critical Communications Explained

During times of crisis, real-time communication among first responders and various agencies can make the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, standard communication networks don’t cut it in crises. Natural disasters, severe storms, power outages, and cyberattacks can disrupt them. 

So, what’s the solution? Robust, resilient networks that facilitate mission critical communications. In this article, we’ll review a mission critical communication definition and explain how these tools are used in various industries. 

What Are Mission Critical Communications?

Put simply, mission critical communications refers to the need to provide first responders with fast, reliable, secure communication at all times. This requires networks that enable and prioritize first responders to share real-time updates and coordinate strategies without worrying about network disruptions. 

Since the 1930s, mission critical communications have relied mainly on land mobile radio (LMR). LMR systems consist of handheld radios (also known as “push-to-talk”), vehicle radios, base station radios, networks and repeaters. 

However, in recent years, mission critical communication network providers have begun including new solutions, devices, equipment and infrastructure that provide greater resiliency. Thanks to the rise of satellite networks, LTE networks like FirstNet, and 4G and 5G broadband, mission critical networks now support:

  • Push-to-video
  • Video sharing
  • File sharing
  • GPS location sharing
  • Laptop computers
  • Tablets
  • Wireless earpieces

What Industries Need Mission Critical Communications?

Here are some key industries that depend on prioritized connectivity, as well as a few examples of their mission critical communications networks in action.

Public Safety

From police officers to firefighters, public safety professionals protect the lives and property of people within their communities. Executing their missions, especially in emergency situations, requires careful coordination and ongoing communication.

Mission critical communications enhance public safety by keeping teams connected, informed and up-to-date on evolving crises. In turn, each team member can fulfill their role more effectively and efficiently.

Here are a few examples of mission critical communications in public safety settings:

  • Police arrive on the scene – A police department receives a call about an active shooter targeting a local university. As soon as this call arrives, they must organize a response team in minutes, dispatch the selected officers and get to the scene as quickly as possible. Every minute that passes could mean another life is lost. Some response team members may not physically be in the department office at the time of the call. Therefore, they must be alerted via radios that run on mission critical communication networks. Once at the scene, these first responders can keep other support teams updated on the evolving situation as they attempt to apprehend the active shooter.
  • Firefighters coordinating emergency responseA home in a rural area catches fire due to an unattended stovetop. A neighbor smells smoke and calls the local fire department using their landline, since cell service isn’t widely available in the neighborhood. This fire presents a lethal risk to the homeowner inside the house, as well as the surrounding community.

Using mission critical communications, the fire department dispatches firefighters to the scene. They also coordinate with the following groups:

  • Police officers
  • Paramedics
  • EMTs
  • Ambulance dispatchers

Despite the lack of cell reception, all critical first responders make it to the scene quickly. The homeowner is saved, having received prompt medical treatment, and the surrounding homes are spared from catching fire. 

State and Local Governments

Certain emergencies, such as natural disasters or terrorist threats, may require synchronized responses from government agencies. These coordinated missions can’t afford to be set back by lapses in network connectivity. Thus, state and local governments need to use networks capable of rising above these situations.

For example, suppose a hurricane hits a city in Florida. It might easily knock down cell towers, initiate a power outage, flood streets and cause immense physical destruction. Without mission critical communications, the following issues may arise:

  • Agencies involved in rescue and recovery plans can’t share information with each other.
  • People injured during the hurricane call 911 but fail to get through.
  • City managers struggle to connect with the appropriate transportation departments to clean up the roads.

Luckily, when robust networks ensure mission critical communications get delivered, they can prevent these issues and improve outcomes for the entire community. 

Utilities

Companies that provide oil, gas, water, and electricity are essential in today’s world. Without their reliable service, many people’s homes, businesses and communities may fall apart. 

In some cases, a failure in their service can lead to dangerous events, such as a gas pipeline accident. A damaged pipeline can cause a release of toxic gas, which may be invisible or only have a faint odor. Prolonged exposure to this gas can be fatal if left unchecked. In addition, a gas leak could cause a fire or explosion. 

Utility companies that have partnered with a mission critical communications network provider can help their customers resolve high-risk issues promptly, even if regular telecommunication networks are down. 

Transportation

From airplanes to high-speed trains, public transportation keeps the world running smoothly. Many city dwellers schedule their days around their local transit systems. 

Mission critical communication networks can ensure that transportation officials maintain their fleet’s movement.

Here are a few examples of transportation-related mission critical communications in action:

  • Ambulance mechanical issues – An ambulance breaks down on its way to the hospital. It’s carrying someone who is bleeding out from a bullet wound. Thanks to effective mission critical communications, the driver can coordinate with an ambulance nearby, transfer the patient, and get them to the hospital without delay.
  • Stranded in remote areas – A plane crashes in an uninhabited area in the mountains. While some people survive the crash, they don’t have cell service to call for help. Fortunately, the plane carries mission critical communication equipment. In turn, the survivors can contact a rescue team.

When Normal Networks Go Down, Trust IP Access for Mission Critical Communications

Mission critical communications can save the day when lives are on the line. If you want to set up your agency or organization with a trusted network that facilitates reliable communications, you need First Responder Net from IP Access.

First Responder Net was designed by our team of experts, with over 20 years of experience supporting first responders. As a “network of networks” that combines cellular and satellite infrastructure, First Responder Net ensures that mission critical communications always get delivered.

Our fool-proof network (with public safety and first responders in mind) offers:

  • Fail-safe access to various cellular and satellite networks – First Responder Net integrates connectivity from all major cellular providers, including Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and FirstNet. It also gives users access to satellite networks so they can be covered when missions take them off the grid.
  • Real-time readiness reports – Want to monitor the readiness of your mission critical communications equipment? No problem. We give First Responder Net users access to real-time information and equipment readiness reports.
  • Future-proofing As mission critical communication technology evolves, First Responder Net is fine-tuned accordingly. As a result, you can rest assured that our network will be continually updated. 
  • 24/7/365 Network Operations Center support If you have questions or concerns, a First Responder Net support member will readily assist you. Over the past 20 years, we’ve developed the fast-acting expertise required to assist critical agencies in times of crisis.

Nearly 1,000 agencies have chosen First Responder Net as their mission critical communications network. If you’re interested in joining them, speak with an IP Access specialist about First Responder Net today.