Friday, August 31, 2012

PTC (Positive Train Control) and why it’s important to Public Safety Broadband Plans

This is a topic I can guarantee that most within the Public Safety world have heard nothing about. PTC, or Positive Train Control, is a $11 Billion dollar Federally funded supported consortium of the nations largest rail lines to build a nationwide communications network that controls trains in real-time. Its footprint impacts the deepest of the rural territories and mountain ranges.

Picture this: a class 1 heavy train with a multi-engine consist, something like a BNSF or Union Pacific, pulling a train a mile long through the mountains and rural deserts of the United States. Imagine that train needs to stop because of an obstruction on the track. While stopped a rove of terrorists, who have penetrated our border in a remote location, slithers up to the train and places a timed or remote explosive on about 5 or 6 high pressure propane, or other highly combustive tanker cars with hydrochloric acid. They have set the devices to explode when the train commutes through a city center…like Dallas or Kansas City. Or worse yet, through a rural town to which a local high school or elementary school sits along the tracks. I probably don’t need to explain the results. Here is a youtube video clip of just such a situation, but in this instance it was just a derailment. Imagine if it were intentional.

(the entire video is interesting but the bulk of the explosion happens around the 6 minute mark. Would have been nice if the officer had a vehicle deployed UAV.)

The possible answer to this solution may reside in the Nations First Responder Broadband Network or Public Safety Broadband Network using multiple platforms of technology, i.e. LMR, P25, LTE, etc. It’s a relationship that would have many advantages -- both ways -- where as both parties can get what they need out of the deal. How that relationship needs to be formed -- can best be married in a Public Private Partnership!

Another thing to remember is that, much like Utilities, Class 1 Railroads make a lot of money -- money that can be spent to help support the Public Safety Broadband Network deployment and sustainment.

Just some guy and a blog….

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