Communication devices for the public safety, utilities, transportation, military, and other “second responder” sectors are often characterized by images of clunky, large instruments that look like they require a master’s degree to operate. Yet these are the type of urgent communication systems that should be quick and easy to operate in order to protect and save lives.

At the 78th annual Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials Conference and Expo in Minneapolis, C4i unveiled a myriad of new system updates and products that waved goodbye to cumbersome and said hello to convenience; bringing simplicity, interoperability and portability to the forefront of public safety communications.

First off, plenty of enhancements were made to C4i’s already impressive SwitchPlusIP software that promote user ease and portability. These include the newly integrated P25 features, which allow for status updates, messaging, private/group calls, emergency alerts, and polling; improved SIP and audio call robustness across networks; an integrated phonebook that allows contact information search for thousands of entries based on a multitude of search functions- from zip code, to name, to job-title; an integrated interface to TELEGRID’s WZRDnet mesh network radios that allow for “talk without towers” long-distance communications; and Wi-Fi tablet operation, allowing a tablet PC to be used as a console for portable access anywhere.

C4i also introduced their new SwitchPlusIP LTE Picocell CIU “building block” that provides a standalone LTE, UMTS or GSM network. The CIU provides private cellular voice and data capability for public-safety networks over a secure LTE connection, supporting smart phones or simple wireless device to place calls through the SwitchPlusIP system to any SIP, analog or digital phone, or PBX, FXS or FXO circuit, which would be of interest in areas without cellular capabilities.

One of the most eye-catching products introduced at APCO was C4i’s Communications-On The Move (C-OTM) System. C4i’s president, Brad Kay, described the C-OTM as “a flyaway kit, which is the core dispatch unit condensed into a lightweight case that does everything the desktop does.” Essentially, the case provides a quick, stand-alone command center by using existing communications equipment to connect or dial into the C-OTM, which is run on either battery or cable power.

The C-OTM utilizes C4i’s newly enhanced SwitchPlusIP system mentioned above, and just like the LTE Picocell CIU, fits in an aircraft overhead bin.  Yet one of the C-OTM’s key features is the simple, intuitive interface that can be run from your portable PC -- meaning you don’t have to be an engineer to operate it.