This policy establishes the terms and conditions for patching two-way voice radio equipment into the Butler Regional Interoperable Communications System (BRICS) infrastructure.
What is Patching?
Radio Patching is one of several terms used to define the connection of a BRICS radio to another radio or radios, resulting in the ability to establish interoperable communications between radios and systems not compatible with each other directly. Some of the other terms used to define this process include “cross-connect”, “interconnect”, or “bridging”. Patching might be initiated by a dispatcher using a Motorola dispatch console or in the field with a special bridge device.
This policy is mainly concerned with patching a BRICS talkgroup to a frequency or talkgroup on another system. Another type of patching occurs completely within our system: the patching of one BRICS talkgroup to another BRICS talkgroup with the Motorola dispatch console.
The Butler Regional Interoperable Communications System is a performance rated system based on channel and frequency usage at any given time. The performance of BRICS is directly related to how efficiently it is utilized by subscriber agencies. The patching of other radio systems and frequencies over to BRICS directly affects the resources available to all users.
Patching a radio system over to BRICS is the equivalent of adding the same number of radios in use on that system, onto BRICS. In certain situations, this adversely affects the ability of other BRICS users to access the system. Every time a radio is patched over to BRICS, even for “monitoring” purposes, a channel may be used at every tower site on the system. The result may minimize resources available to other agencies on BRICS.
Patching a talkgroup on BRICS with a talkgroup on the Hamilton County system is an inefficient use of radio channels. Whenever a user transmits on either talkgroup, it will be rebroadcast on the opposite system. Two channels will be tied up for the same message – one on all Butler County towers, one on all Hamilton County towers. It can quickly lead to “busy” signals for other users. Alternative: Have all users engaged in the same incident to use the same talkgroup – either on the Butler County system or on the Hamilton County system.
Patching a talkgroup on BRICS with a conventional frequency, like LEERN, also negatively affects system performance. Any radio traffic on the LEERN frequency will be rebroadcast on our system, tying up a channel on all towers.
The Problem with “Digital Delay”
You may notice that, with digitial radios, your voice traffic is delayed for receiving users. This is also true while patching and, as a result, patching digital systems is not recommended.
If a digital talkgroup on BRICS is patched to a frequency like LEERN, your message will still be delayed for LEERN users. When you transmit, it will be rebroadcast on LEERN after the typical delay. LEERN users, unfamilar with this, may transmit a message not realizing you’re doing the same. The beginning and end of transmissions quickly become covered and missed. A “don’t shoot” message can very easily become “shoot”.
The problem is even worse patching two digital talkgroups on different systems (i.e. Butler and Hamilton counties). When a user transmits on the Butler County talkgroup, it will reach the patch connection after the typical delay. It will then be transmitted on the Hamilton County side of the patch, again being delayed. The message delay will, in effect, be twice as long. Covered and missed messages will be even worse than patching with a conventional frequency.
BRICS Administrative Responsibilities
BRICS is responsible for ensuring the necessary network throughput is available at all times for BRICS primary customers.
BRICS is responsible for establishing a process to patch essential radio communication systems through BRICS to optimize emergency communications.
BRICS is responsible for monitoring the use of patches in place and their impact on the BRICS network.
BRICS retains the right to shut down a patch at any time.
Customer / Subscriber Responsibilities
Customers may not engage a fixed or long-term patch with a conventional frequency or other radio system without written permission from BRICS administration.
Customers may engage a short-term patch if required for an emergency. The responsible agency should contact the BRICS office at (513) 785-1299 if contemplating a standard emergency type patch to BRICS. Agencies shall be required to provide a single point of contact (Incident Commander or the appointed Communications Unit Leader [COML]). This person shall be in direct control of the patching equipment.
Patching one or more BRICS talkgroups together does not necessarily require system administration permission, nor does it tie up system resources. This policy is primarily concerned with patching other systems and frequencies to BRICS. Patching a local talkgroup to a common interoperability talkgroup should only be done in an emergency and should be disabled as soon as possible following the conclusion of the emergency. It should only be done with the Motorola dispatch console and the interoperability talkgroup should be marked in use following normal procedures. Notification to the Butler County communications center should be made as soon as possible following the patch.
When the event has terminated or the use of the patch is no longer needed, the patch shall be discontinued.
Utilizing BRICS as a means for monitoring a patched radio system from outside the subscribers daily response region is prohibited.
Utilization of any of the regional calling talkgroups (BC CALLING, PSAP talkgroups, etc.) for patching purposes is strictly prohibited.
Utilization of agency specific talkgroups (those used internally by local law/fire/EMS) is strictly prohibited without express permission from the owning agency. (i.e. If a Hamilton dispatcher needs to patch his/her radio to a county sheriff dispatcher, the Hamilton dispatcher must first ask the county sheriff dispatcher if it can be done and precisely which talkgroup can be used for the patch.) It is up to the talkgroup owning agency to decide which talkgroup to use for the patch.
Violation of above rules shall result in thorough administrative investigation by the Communications Division of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
Violations of this policy shall result in the affected device being disabled by BRICS. Disabling a radio results in the device not being able to transmit on BRICS.
If a patch is detected that is found to be adversely affecting the performance of BRICS, and the means to contact the Communication Unit Leader (COML) fails, then BRICS reserves the right to remotely “inhibit” or turn off the radio that is being used to patch to other systems. This means shall be used as a last resort to preserve BRICS system performance for all other users.
It is not the intention of BRICS to deter the use of radio patching capabilities but rather, maximize usage of the system throughout the region. BRICS is responsible for ensuring system performance is maximized at all times for all users.
Published: 11 May 2009
Note: This policy has been adapted from the State of Ohio Multi-Agency Radio Communications System‘s MPP 22.0 Radio Talkgroup Patching Policy.