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11th November 2020

Guest Blog: Is radio communication still relevant today?

Old Technology: New Vision

A guest blog by Ruth Nixon, with over 13 years’ experience in senior roles within the telecommunications sector.

“Do people actually still use radios?” – A question asked by an attendee during an exhibition about technology – in short, yes, they most certainly do!

Radios, known as walkie-talkies to a lot of people and two-way radio to those in the industry, have been around years and years in fact. For many, their only experience of radio may have been sitting in a taxi listening to the chatter of the operator, distributing jobs to the drivers as they go on their journey. It’s not until you start to radio spot that you realise how many people from a wide range of industries use radios as part of their everyday activities; hospitals, universities, leisure centres, tourist attractions, holiday parks, farmers, manufacturing, emergency services, schools, shops, councils… the list goes on.

Going back

For a long time the main and only function of radios was offering instant voice communication, pressing one button and talking to many people at once. When asking the question about people still using radios its often followed up very quickly by the statement “but we’ve got mobile phones now.” The best way to differentiate the purpose of radio against a mobile phone is the instant, one to many capability of a radio. A mobile phone is best used for a one to one call. A simple example of this is when you need to shout “fire.” It’s far more time consuming to alert all colleagues to the fire by scrolling through your address book and calling people individually on your mobile as opposed to pressing a button on your radio.

Like with all technology, radio has developed and evolved throughout the years, offering additional features and enhancing the user experience. The last large leap for radio was when digital radio (DMR) was introduced around 2008. This new sounding technology provides great voice clarity and features never seen before, two simultaneous voice calls, text messaging from radio to radio, easy to navigate contact lists and clear displays are just some examples. The technology contained within these radios has now meant, as well as offering that instant form of communication, you can use your radios for other things and get more out of the device in your hand. This is where you can almost let your imagination run riot with what you can do.

Standby for some of them:

  • Receive fire alarm alerts to your radio. Using the Gen2 application, connect your on-site fire alarm panel to your radio system and be alerted immediately when an alarm is activated.

 

  • BMS, in the same way as the fire alarm alert, using Gen2 to connect to your building management system, receive text notifications of temperature changes, find out if a machine has stopped running or simply a door or window has been left open.

 

  • Security alarms, lift alarms, disabled alarms, pool alarms and any other kind of alarm all delivered to your radio.

 

  • Access control. Open your gate or barrier remotely by using your radio. Perfect if your security personnel are on their patrol, never miss a delivery or hold up a drop off again.

 

  • Job management? No problem. Send and receive jobs directly to a user’s radio, manage that job from start to finish via the radio system – with alerts if jobs aren’t allocated or taking too long. Your radio suddenly is acting like a PDA but you can talk on this, have the facility of an emergency button and GPS tracking (plus much more) all rolled into one.

 

The list could go on.

 

For people using a radio it is about utilising it as much as possible to help with health & safety, business efficiencies and security – wherever possible combining all three in one device.

RF technology is present in our everyday lives more than we may realise, for example if you are handed a pager to be alerted when your table is ready. Or a more recent example, using a pager when attending a hospital appointment; so you can go and wait in your car or coffee shop so social distancing can be adhered to, that is enabled by RF. Have you seen Netflix’s tv show The Crown? That button the Queen presses to call her aides when she’s ready to see the Prime Minster, yes you guessed it, that uses RF technology.

Whether it be emergency services, security personnel in a university, or the Queen herself, people are still using RF technology and certainly will continue to do so for many more years to come.

 

Do people still use radio? – absolutely.

 

Blog Authorship: Ruth Nixon works in Business Development at Call Systems Technology Ltd and spent over 13 years as the Managing Director of a Telecommunications company. She is a board member of The East Midlands Region of The CSSC, Cross-Sector Safety & Security Communications voluntary organisation.

Ruth Nixon Telecommunications specialist

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