[Namaste-dev] Re: Thoughts on ACP Interoperability

Timothy J. Salo salo at saloits.com
Tue Jul 15 23:44:37 PDT 2008

JoAnne Maenpaa wrote:
> Within AMSAT when Interoperability is mentioned, the very next syllable
> often is P25.  The channel protocol, Mbits/sec, Eb/No, and all those other
> parameters are below the application layer ... hams are used to working at
> layer 3 and down :-) ...

This is, I believe, largely as it should be.
AMSAT's expertise is in providing communications
services.  As such, we need to understand how
the services we provide are useful to potential
customers, and what services we should provide in
order to best meet our customers' needs.  In
most cases, we need to understand how the services
we provide can support or enhance the customers'
existing communications infrastructure.  For the
public safety community, the existing communications
infrastructure is migrating towards P25 (for RF
communications) and IP (for everything else) [1].
(AMSAT needs to get better at saying "IP"...)
But, you are right when you imply that the customers
don't care about the nitty-gritty of the
satellite communications.  What they do care about
is, I believe, what services we can provide and how
those services will interface to their existing systems
(i.e., P25 and IP systems).

> The main point of the Interoperability White Paper is try to keep our
> initial analysis at a potential customer's Application Layer.  It is
> hopefully a logical assumption that our customer, a funding/grant source, is
> FEMA and/or other DHS entities.  
> Federal emergency management's Application Layer for interoperability is the
> Incident Command System. This has trickled down into many local government
> scenarios also.

My impression is that ICS is an organization or social
system, not what we would consider a communications system.
It seems to me that ICS is an application in the sense that
it uses or applies a communication system, but that it is not
a software application.  But, I might be confused.

Does an ICS software application or suite of applications

Is it reasonable to assume that ICS (either as a social
organization or as a software application) will use IP for
machine-to-machine communications and P25 and voice-over-IP
for human-to-human communications?

> At the ICS application layer it says an Incident Commander needs to
> communicate with an Operations Sector, Logistics Sector, etc.  This
> application layer does not specify that every time the Operations Sector
> keys a microphone they transmit X Mbit/sec, etc.

No, but I think that the public safety community believes that
its communications systems will use P25 and IP.  Right?

> So, why all of this hoopla of working at higher layers, namely the Incident
> Command System?
> 1. Unified Command/Incident Command is the interoperability model view of
> the Chiefs who also have the budget.  Speak their language.

I am all for speaking the language of the customer.
At least a few of us should be able to talk about command
structures and such like.  But, I am pretty sure that
the Chiefs can all say "P25", "IP" and "Internet".
We need to instill confidence in them that we can
interoperate with their P25 and IP systems.  No,
I don't think they care about the technical details,
but they do care that we can really interoperate with
their existing or future systems.

By the way, if we told these Chiefs that we could
extend the Internet, with high bandwidth, on a
moment's notice to pretty much anywhere, they would
probably immediately understand how we can support
their activities.

> 2. Every participant in ICS is pre-planned into emergency management
> scenarios. For AMSAT to become recognized as an interoperability solution we
> need to become pre-planned into the ICS scenarios.  You betcha that if we
> get DHS to grant $6M to AMSAT that we will be included!  ICS makes some
> accommodation, but does not encourage agencies outside of the plan, to show
> up "just to lend a hand".  The acceptance of casual support is predicated on
> the Incident Commander knowing the resource exists in the first place.  A
> bunch of guys showing up with the coolest, high-tech radio gizmos (that's
> what they are to an incident commander with 200 other problems) are not a
> solution.  Making his ICS plan work is a solution.

Yes, we need to demonstrate in advance of an incident
that we have a solution.  Perhaps, something like actually
building an ACP payload and putting it on a hill or tower
and providing service during a drill.

> 3. For the time being, let's assume from our planning point of view that an
> Eagle/ACP groundstation includes a licensed amateur radio operator with
> every box.  More than likely the TCP/IP backbone is already provided and
> AMSAT will need to plug into that instead of the other way around.  We will
> provide the satellite hop to inaccessible locations (hmmm, a solution).

Sounds good to me.


[1].  Actually, I think that P25 uses sort-of IP
       internally.  I think radios are assigned
       one or more IP addresses.  I _think_ this
       is both for voice and data, but I might be
       confused.  I don't have time at the moment
       to hunt for my P25 pile.

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