Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Cell Phones vs Radios for Security

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Cell Phones vs Radios for Security

    For many years, security departments generally used commercial two-way radios (VHF/UHF) for their communications needs. In some cases, they would share frequencies with other departments within the company (facilities department, etc.), and in other cases, they would have a dedicated frequency just for security. Larger sites might even have their own two-way radio repeaters which extended the range of mobile and portable radios.

    Now days, I am seeing more and more of my clients abandon their two way radios in favor of cell phones or Nextels with the direct connect feature. These systems share communications infrastructure with other cell phone users, and from what I understand, are subject to outage when the system becomes overloaded due to call volume, such as just after an earthquake or other disaster. For security operations, this could mean that you are without communications just at time when you need it the most.

    I am interested to see if any of you on this forum are also seeing this trend away from dedicated two-way radio systems, and what, if any, experience you have had with cell phone/Nextel outages during times of emergency. I am also curious if anyone experienced any extended outages due to the recent fires in Southern California.
    Michael A. Silva
    Silva Consultants

  • #2
    Cell Phones

    I'll take a two-way any day over a cell phone. Yes, cell phones are easier to use and convenient, which is why people chose them over a radio. Unfortunately, they are not reliable in a major disaster involving power failures and system overload. That's why CERT relies on ham radios for emergency communications. (Still subject to repeaters, but at least they work)
    Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

    Comment


    • #3
      I've found that Nextel's are horrible for emergency use. I used to use them awhile back and it seemed that they worked if you were ordering a pizza, but didn't when the SHTF. During the busy hurricane season awhile back my comm was pretty much FUBAR. I was told later that this might have been due to all the government activity and the switching over of available resources to emergency management and government entities but I don't know for sure.

      Radios have their limitations but they can be overcome by renting space on available repeater towers and of course the HAM route is also available. A tech license isn't very difficult to get now i'm told.

      I always caution anyone to fly before they buy to make sure they are getting what they need.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Mr. Security View Post
        I'll take a two-way any day over a cell phone. Yes, cell phones are easier to use and convenient, which is why people chose them over a radio. Unfortunately, they are not reliable in a major disaster involving power failures and system overload. That's why CERT relies on ham radios for emergency communications. (Still subject to repeaters, but at least they work)
        We have a disaster communication unit that has seven different kinds of communication capability, including:

        1. Cell phones - actually, two different systems.

        2. CB radios - one mobile base, six portables.

        3. GPRS radios - eight. Boast 16 mile range, but tested is 8 miles max rural, 3 max urban.

        4. Satellite phone - one currently, another to be added.

        5. Ham - one mobile base, four portables. Base station handles data TX.

        6. Mesh network system with 4 individual units equipped so far.

        7. Business band - one mobile base, four portables.

        Of course, a couple of public safety scanners, but no direct radio comm yet - will rely on phones if working or relay through the medical center if that's possible. Why is this like pulling teeth, I wonder? There oughta be one blessed channel...<end rant>.

        The suggestion has been made to add marine band, just in case the ocean should suddenly decide to relocate inland a few miles and takes out some of those facilities.

        And, it hauls a rapid-deployment tower, a generator and a lighting system on a trailer.

        The unit (a converted ambulance with 120,000 miles) and trailer were given as a gift, but we outfitted the rest over a period of about 4 years. Between purchases and donations, about $60 grand total. All the ham gear was donated (bless you, hams!), and most of the CB gear also (bless you, truckers!). We hope to set up a mobile repeater unit with a similar tower as well, if we can raise about $30 grand and/or find some angels. You can't get no range in hilly or mountainous terrain when you ain't got repeaters and you're not going to be able to count on "ham club" repeaters being operational.

        Incidentally, for those interested, we've demonstrated that range is more a function of proper antenna matching and gain than output power. This is not to say that if we had, say, a 100-watt cheater amp for the CB base we might not use it if the situation were truly desperate. Someone (I forget who) told me that such things exist. But of course no one would use such an amp - they're, like, illegal.
        Last edited by SecTrainer; 10-27-2007, 11:50 AM.
        "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

        "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

        "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

        "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

        Comment


        • #5
          Back in the mid 70s I worked at a hospital campus doing purely O&R security. Actually we did nothing. I think we were only there because the insurance company required it. We had no communication. Half the patrols were outside so we couldn't even hear the PA system.

          My 1st hotel used pagers. They were slow to begin with (No computers). Once you finally got the page (3 or 4 minutes after it was sent), you would have to find a pjone. (At least there was one or two on each floor). Then you would phone the Operator to get the information. If there were calls before you you waited on hold. If there was an emergency like a fight, good luck getting help. You would have to rely on someone going to a phone for you. (Did a mention I worked alone ). The system was a little "better" shortly before I started working. They did not have pagers. On each floor there was a cluster of coloured lights. Greem was to tell Maintenance to call the Operator, blue for Security etc Hopefully you were not colour blind!
          I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
          Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

          Comment


          • #6
            Cell phones vs. portable radio's.

            Personally I like to have them both. If in a good cell phone reception area, possibly a nextel would suffice. But if in a marginal reception area, a cell phone and a strong radio would be the best. If you don't have your own repeater system, a strong grms radio (i've seen some advertised for 25 mile range, but that probably means 5 or 6 good miles) is very important for contact with co-workers, the office, ect.

            A phone is usually necessary to call the police and fire departments, and other non radio available groups.

            Comment


            • #7
              Alot of people don't know that Nextel requires the use of their towers for the radios. You could be 30 feet away line of sight, but without hitting a tower, you ain't talking to each other. (well, I guess you could shout )
              sigpic
              Rocket Science
              Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


              http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
              One Man's Opinion

              The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

              Comment


              • #8
                I was absolutely blown away the other day. I go out to a site (I'll fill in for the regular guy while he's on vacation) and get the rundown. He tells me "when the battery (on the nextel) runs down, call dispatch and tell them you'll be out of contact for a couple hours while charging the battery". I carry my own cell phone but that the company would allow that just boggles my mind. Sure hope I can leave them soon.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bpdblue View Post
                  Personally I like to have them both. If in a good cell phone reception area, possibly a nextel would suffice. But if in a marginal reception area, a cell phone and a strong radio would be the best. If you don't have your own repeater system, a strong grms radio (i've seen some advertised for 25 mile range, but that probably means 5 or 6 good miles) is very important for contact with co-workers, the office, ect.

                  A phone is usually necessary to call the police and fire departments, and other non radio available groups.
                  The police like cell phones, especially in areas where scanners can p/u radio transmissions. The downside is that the conversations are not recorded the way they are when run through dispatch. Unfortunately, some officers use the phones to keep information that might not be favorable to them off the record. Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine about radios.
                  Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I use the Motorola radio as well as the cell phone. Our radios have "Private/supervisor" mode but we rarely use that feature. Certain information just just not be transmitted using the radio.

                    Be Safe,

                    Hank
                    " We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on one hand and of overwhelming force on the other" - General George C. Marshall

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bpdblue View Post
                      Personally I like to have them both. If in a good cell phone reception area, possibly a nextel would suffice. But if in a marginal reception area, a cell phone and a strong radio would be the best. If you don't have your own repeater system, a strong grms radio (i've seen some advertised for 25 mile range, but that probably means 5 or 6 good miles) is very important for contact with co-workers, the office, ect.

                      A phone is usually necessary to call the police and fire departments, and other non radio available groups.

                      I agree with this. I carry a two way radio and If I lose communication with the radio I pick up the cell. With how compact these devices have become I feel both are a necessity in security work.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Cost comes into it alot too. To outfit a team with portable radios. repeaters, perhaps add trunk calling ops and then send this through GPS - you are looking at 10's of 1,000's of dollars. Prepaid mobile phones with $100.00 credit will get you 1000 mins on some plans in Australia for a month. Also now I notice MOST S/O's come into the ranks and don't know HOW to use a radio. They have NFI about protocols, of what information and order must be delivered and how to respond to a Signal One (SHTF) call (aka Officer Down). I remind ALL people using radios, CALL SIGN TO / FROM and then give me the bloody location so I know WHERE to go or to look.

                        Love the old motorola bricks as we used to have repeaters in the patrol cars, were reliable, could be used as a back scratcher and never broke on the job (despite many drops). Have used something like the Nextel units on a site and when a major blackout hit (I was without anything to recharge my unit on after 10 hours of use).
                        "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          i Agree but..... radios usualy dont give out like cells do. from being on a FD and from doing security for 3 years i have found that having both is far better then just having one.
                          sigpic

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            A mobile phone is compulsory for all S/O's nothing worse than being unable to call for help (ie. 000 or 911) because you have no mobile phone. Even a no credit mobile can access these services for free and be a contact tool if unable to attend. I have given out dozens of free Nokia phone chargers I have acquired that were either being tossed out or were given to me with new phones, to S/O's to keep in their work bags or bring onsite with them. There is no excuse for having a flat mobile whilst at work - especially a solo shift.
                            "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by integrator97 View Post
                              Alot of people don't know that Nextel requires the use of their towers for the radios. You could be 30 feet away line of sight, but without hitting a tower, you ain't talking to each other. (well, I guess you could shout )
                              Some of the newer Nextels have this feature:


                              Direct Talk(SM)
                              The all-digital off-network Direct Connect that works anywhere, anytime between compatible phones within a range of up to 6 miles (range will vary based on terrain and conditions). Direct Talk(SM) provides reliable back-up communications tool in times of emergency, network outage, or when traveling to remote areas not under Nextel coverage such as hiking, cruise vacations or inside buildings.
                              ATTN. SPECOPS AND GECKO45 my secret username is CIDDECEP and I am your S2. My authorization code is Six Wun Quebec Oscar Fife. Your presence here is tactically dangerous and compromises our overall mission parameter. Cease and desist all activity on this board. Our “enemies” are deft at computer hacking and may trace you back to our primary locale. You have forced me to compromise my situation to protect your vulnerable flank. This issue will be addressed later.

                              Comment

                              Leaderboard

                              Collapse
                              Working...
                              X