RCMP looks to the sky

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have gone from the 19th century to the 21st in the last five years, according to Raymon St-Jean.

St-Jean, acting manager in the integration section, explained that when he started 10 years ago the only places with laptops in the police cars were Ottawa and some of the “lower mainland.” The rest were using voice radio to communicate with their command centre.

This year the RCMP is implementing a new system, which will play to the strength of satellite communications. Remote units will have laptops in their cars connected to the RCMP’s networking system, ROADS (Remote Office And Dispatch System).

“The goal was to find a way to contact those detachments way out to the north or in areas where there is no commercially-based system, and there is not likely to be one, or it is not cost effective to put our own system there. MSAT is the ideal choice for those areas,” St-Jean said.

The policing organization chose C-Com’s Roamer communication system to extend its digital network to a satellite system.

Leslie Klein, president and CEO of C-Com, said the Roamer, which was developed for the RCMP, allows the officers to communicate across the country, even in places where their normal communication doesn’t exist.

“The RCMP had told us they had a problem with cars losing contact with dispatch as soon as they were out of an urban area. We proposed a solution and developed it for them,” Klein explained.

The C-Com satellite system interfaces with the terrestrial connection, the private network and automatically connects with the satellite as soon as the system is outside of the network connectivity.

“Our technology automatically picks up the satellite connection and maintains coverage, totally transparent to the driver and dispatch,” Klein said.

The RCMP and C-Com are using the MSAT satellite network to accomplish this. St-Jean said the implementation, which started almost a year ago, has had a few bumps. They are still trying to work out the delays, as far as information going through the satellite networks.

“We tend to push the envelope on how we use a product,” St-Jean said. “So we’re testing it differently, maybe pushing it more than it had been pushed before. There are some configuration issue, but nothing to the point of being so serious we wouldn’t use the product.”

The RCMP purchased C-Com’s Gateway product last year. It is the server where the information gets transmitted through the satellite.

St-Jean said the beauty of the gateway system is that it allowed the RCMP to leverage the ROADS system on an existing interface without having to redevelop from scratch.

He said the completed system, with both the Gateway and the Roamer, will also help to ensure officer safety by allowing dispatch to have a more accurate view of the unit’s whereabouts.

These safety procedures started with the implementation of ROADS, but can now extend to officers in remote areas.

The RCMP plans to roll out this project in the fall.