By Doug Clark
Now, several years after the pandemic, many state and local governments are expected by many to experience budget cuts. In 2023, President Biden rescinded approximately $30 billion that had originally been allocated in 2021’s American Rescue Plan for state and local governments. These funds were allotted for a variety of public service projects, some of which would have been dedicated to emergency responders like police officers. Not to mention, across the U.S., revenue from state and local taxes and other revenues are declining. States like California, Illinois, and New York are expected to be hit the hardest without the influx of federal funds.
As local governments work on budgeting, they will need to find creative ways to decrease spending while not falling behind or hurting their communities. Budget cuts are a notoriously divisive topic in government, especially when it comes to emergency responders like firefighters and police officers. In the past few years, many police departments have been asking for increased funding to account for technology that would increase efficiency.
Siyata Mobile Inc. (“Siyata”), a global developer and vendor of mission-critical Push To Talk (PTT) over Cellular handsets and accessories, has provided relief to departments across the country. The company’s systems not only provide better coverage than previous technology, but it is also far more affordable.
Land Mobile Radios (LMR) have been the traditional communication solution used by first responders for many decades. However, these handheld radios were big, bulky and costly to carry around, making them cumbersome for everyday use. PTT radio coverage provided by LMR technology was also often limited to a short distance, usually covering one city or one county, and was prone to no coverage zones, where communication was unreliable.
The limitations of LMR technology have been a source of frustration for first responders, dispatchers and their command staff. A lot of departments have begun the transition to mission-critical PTT over Cellular (PoC) networks. This transition offers a range of advantages compared to LMR technology. Devices are smaller, lighter and more affordable, making them easier to carry and use in the field. More importantly, the cellular coverage provided by these networks proves to be superior to radio coverage, offering nationwide reach and reducing the limitations caused by no coverage zones and limited range.
Siyata has been making waves in the industry with its products that cater to first responders and other industries that rely on strong communication channels, like schools, utilities, logistics and field service workers. Siyata’s SD7 mission-critical PTT handset is not a Smartphone. Rather, it is designed to meet the needs of first responders seeking a reliable and easy-to-use communication tool.
It is a great choice for those transitioning from two-way radios since it looks and functions similarly and it requires minimal training, providing an almost seamless transition from older LMR technology to cutting-edge PTT over cellular technology. It operates nationwide wherever there is cellular coverage on FirstNet’s network or on other networks, it supports mission-critical communications standards, and it is far less expensive than LMR handheld radios. If first responders enter into weak cellular coverage areas, then Siyata’s own line of cellular signal boosters can improve cellular reception there to keep its SD7 handsets connected.
For organizations who choose to adopt both LMR and PTT over Cellular technology either for an interim transition period or even permanently, there are gateway solutions to allow a PoC device such as the SD7 handset to communicate with LMR radios. One such organization that uses both technologies today is Rescue International, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Pennsylvania that provides search and rescue (SAR) support free of charge to regions in the U.S. and internationally where emergencies have occurred. Chief Bruce Barton said, “For our operations in regional Search and Rescue and national disaster responses, we have found that PoC and the SD7 handset to be a highly cost-effective solution and valued addition to our normal VHF/UHF LMR communications systems. As we cover such a large region and travel many times, for long distance to SAR operations to provide our K9 teams, water recovery team, search management and related SAR services to local agencies, needing help. As a non-profit, budgets are always limited. The IP PTT based access through cellular on FirstNet LTE band 14 has proven to be critical in expanding our range of communications coverage, when responding to SAR and major disaster missions.”
The desire for easier interoperability with neighboring first responder agencies has further solidified the popularity of PTT over Cellular handsets like Siyata’s SD7 handset. These handsets offer seamless communication and collaboration between multiple agencies, ensuring a more coordinated and efficient response during emergencies. Siyata’s handsets also incorporate cutting-edge features such as CrisisGo’s optional Emergency Response solution, including an SOS Button. This ensures that emergency responders have access to the most advanced tools available, enabling them to perform their duties effectively and efficiently.
Siyata’s unique approach of offering an affordable mission-critical PTT over Cellular handset that looks and operates like a two-way radio may allow first responder agencies to equip more of their staff than ever before with a reliable and easy-to-use handset to keep more staff connected. With a track record as a pioneer in the industry and with solutions catering to various uses in areas with and without strong cellular coverage, Siyata has earned a solid reputation for reliability and versatility. With rising budget cuts, this is the solution that state and local governments are looking for.