Developing a good solution requires an understanding of the organization and the functionality end users need to support them. There may be multiple departments within the same organization that share the  system(s), but have different roles, needs and implementations.

At WillowFalls Consulting, we are trained in Incident Command System, Business Continuity Planning, Security and Emergency Management, to help us understand clients requirements and what they are trying to accomplish with their communications and security systems.

Elements Of Effective Solutions

Solutions For Different Sectors

Increasing efforts for information sharing, risk mitigation and cost reduction, are pushing organizations towards greater sharing and coordination of resources. The organizational lines between Security, Emergency Management, Business Continuity and Public Safety, overlap in many ways, making it impossible to address one area, without considering the others.

WillowFalls Consulting provides a holistic view to solutions for communications and security. Communications is no longer about each group or agency having dedicated frequencies and equipment. Interoperability and information sharing, lack of frequencies and cost reduction are driving agencies and organizations towards the need for shared infrastructure.

Support is a key element of operations, and with communications and security systems now IP network connected, IT support is as important as RF technicians. Understanding the support requirements, costs and who is responsible for each support component, before selecting a new system, ensures that ongoing operational funding and staffing is put in place as part of implementation.

Creating Effective Solutions

Implementing an effective solution involves more than technology selection. Other important pieces of the solution also need to be included in order to make sure that the technology gets implemented in a way that benefits the organization and that the organization can support.

People, Processes and Tools are critical to ensuring that the solution supports the operations needs of the organization and the users.

Supporting End Users, meeting operations commitments and legal requirements, as well as how the solution is implemented and configured, all impact the effectiveness and support costs of new systems.

Ongoing support costs and who provides service are important to understand before making any change. Do in house staff have the skills and time available to provide support, or will a support contract be required.

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                  concept of People, Process and Tools

People, Process & Tools

Technology implementation, accessories and integration have a significant impact on end user efficiency and satisfaction. The cost to address these areas as part of a new system is generally low, while the cost to make changes later may exceed operational budget capacity.

Effectiveness Is More Than Technology Selection

Implementing an effective solution involves more than technology selection. There are several other important activities that need to take place in order to make sure that the technology gets implemented correctly, so it supports the organization.

Getting The Requirements Right

Getting the requirements right means understanding the root problems end users and the organization need solved. The requirements written into an RFP need to ensure that these root problems are addressed. The small details often impact end users the most.

Understanding Ongoing Costs

The organization needs to understand the ongoing effort and support costs for the requirements they want to include. Capital funding will cover the equipment purchase, but there will be ongoing costs that need to be supported from yearly operations budgets. Costs may include additional staff effort to manage capabilities such as encryption, the cost for outside services such as maintenance contracts and the cost for consumable items such as batteries.

Governance & SOPs

Everything needs some Governance, to define the responsibilities and rules for management and use. This can be as simple as a single paragraph, or as complicated as a multi-partner agreement. To be effective, governance must be based on a full understanding of the impacts and responsibilities of implementing, operating and maintaining the capability or system.

Training, Exercises & Daily Usage

"Practice, Practice, Practice" and "Use It Or Lose It", are two phases that apply to any capability. Often systems are implemented with capabilities that are not documented and not practiced, so as people change jobs, the knowledge and understanding is lost. In a crisis people don't have time to think, so using the systems capabilities should be second nature.

Organizational Capabilities
In order for technology implementations to be effective, there must be ongoing updates to training and exercise plans, as well as daily use.

Planning and review take lessons learned from training and practice, to make improvements to training and SOPs, as part of a continuous improvement process.

In a crisis, the organizational capabilities available will be a result of the ongoing training, practice,  review and improvement process.

Solutions For Different Sectors

The basics are common across all user sectors, however there are definite differences in the design, functionality,features and operation of systems for different agencies and organizations.

Public Safety

Public Safety depends on radio communications for dispatch and coordination in the field. The radios and radio system must work, all the time, no matter what the conditions. Failure is not an option, so equipment is high quality, with high availability designed into the infrastructure. Systems must have enough capacity for emergencies where the number of users can increases significantly as agencies from other areas come in to help.

Emergency Management

Emergency Management is different than many other user groups. There is little communications on a daily basis, but when things happen, the communications requirements can mushroom into a large, interconnected system. High availability is important to ensure that the system will work when needed, since emergencies often impact communications capabilities.


Security radio communications tends to be localized to a building or campus. Local systems may be connected to a central control centre, which manages multiple facilities. These remote connections may use radio, telco circuits or IP network connectivity.


Utilities are an interesting mix of basic two way radio communications for dispatch and worksite coordination, with high availability to support emergencies (i.e. storms, accidents, natural disasters), plus life safety support for workers in dangerous work environments like electrical vaults, confined spaces.


Business is competitive, so radio communications solutions must be functional and cost effective. Features such as one-to-one calling, GPS tracking, or telephone patch, are included when they make sense for the business.