The Importance of LTE Interoperability

By Dr. Walt Magnussen Jr.

In a data-centric world, interoperability takes on a whole new meaning. In public-safety references, it is the ability to share information from any source with any first responder across any network. This is the goal, and while attainable, it will take a lot of work.
The words “any desired data” could mean a number of data types. It could be citizen health information from an internet of life-saving things (IoLST) device, such as a heart monitor. It could be video from a surveillance camera at an intersection or from a citizen’s smartphone, or aerial images or radiation heat traces from a drone. The data could include a firefighter’s body temperature measured by an IoLST device sent from a person providing mutual aid to a large fire. It could even be information about a disaster situation that crosses country borders.

The second portion of the interoperability definition is “across any network.” The origin of data comes from many sources. In the case of citizen information input, it most likely originates in a commercial service provider’s network, then is routed through the appropriate next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) networks before being delivered to CAD systems and then to the first responders. Military network data must come across trusted gateways that don’t currently exist. Images from local government sources, such as traffic data, will originate from local networks. All data interconnections need to be defined, established and tested.

The key to interoperability lies in three steps: determine the needs, develop the interface standards or build gateways, and test. This can’t all be done at one time within any one group. It will take a large amount of cooperation — much of it between competing firms or standards bodies — but in the end, it will be beneficial to all concerned, especially first responders.

This article was written by Dr. Walt Magnussen Jr. and appears in rrmediagroup,com dated February 20, 2018.

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Walt Magnussen Jr., Ph.D., runs the Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center (ITEC), an emergency communications lab at Texas A&M University. He also has an appointment with U.S. Unified Community Anchor Network (UCAN), which oversees the Internet2 Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant for $96 million to build national infrastructure with a commitment to support public safety. He also served on the FCC’s Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC) technical advisory committee and the FCC Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) work group seven. He is a member of the MissionCritical Communications editorial advisory board. Contact him at


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