Many companies use two-way radio systems for maintenance and security applications. Chances are, they think of two-way radios as a mature, proven, relatively low-tech system. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Two-way radio systems are far from antiquated. Manufacturers have kept pace with the rest of the communications industry and now offer many of the high-tech features, such as paging and text messaging, offered in cell phones. In fact, two-way systems offer features not yet found in cell phones – and they do so at a fraction of the operating cost.
Caller ID. Caller ID, or PTT (push-to-talk) ID, sends a digital code identifier with each transmission, allowing the supervisor, dispatcher, or any receiving radio to see exactly who’s talking by displaying the person’s name or designation on the dispatcher’s computer or the radio’s LCD readout. This can reduce confusion in a system comprising a large fleet of radios (mobile or portable). Moreover, with a PC and application software, all calls and data transmissions can be recorded, providing a computerized method of handling dispatches and a permanent record of two-way transmissions for safety, legal, and insurance reasons.
Selective Calling. Trunking is a technology that ensures greater flexibility in organizing your channels into “talk groups,” or pre-defined groups of users. This allows you to selectively page or call radios of individuals, single or multiple work groups, or all radios on a system. It also allows each radio to be programmed for specific system access.
Status Messaging. If you have common job tasks, you may be able to handle them with canned, or pre-programmed, messages, such as “CALL ENGR EXT 3377” or “CALL MAINT EXT 3388.” Either a dispatcher or fleet radio user can send these status messages, up to 16 characters in length.
Emergency Status Message. Built into status messaging are emergency alert/man-down messages, which are especially useful for private security forces or for people working in hazardous environments. These can be triggered manually by depressing an emergency button, or automatically when the radio is tilted horizontally for a predetermined period of time, indicating an injured or incapacitated person.
Text Messaging. When status messages aren’t enough and you need to send a more detailed message, dispatchers or supervisors can now send short text messages of up to 48 characters in length to any radio. Optional mobile data display units for mobile radios can receive up to 1,024 characters.
GPS/Automatic Vehicle Location. Mobile radios can now be combined with GPS receivers, providing a dispatcher at a base station with the ability to track each vehicle in a fleet. This location information can be combined with ID and status messages to provide unit identification. The result: better response time and more efficient use of resources.
Two-way systems comprise the operational backbone of many organizations, aggressively incorporating new technologies to provide users with cutting-edge features and unparalleled performance.
Mark Jasin is the national sales manager at Kenwood Communications Corp. (www.kenwood.net), a Suwanee, GA-based manufacturer of two-way radios used in business, government, and recreation throughout the world, and the developers of FleetSync™ computer-aided dispatch software (800) 950-5005.