District Wide Communication Solutions Serves Students Best Interest

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

During a site walk for a pre-proposal meeting with a School District, I noticed the following technologies:
  •       Analog Radio from Motorola
  •       Digital Radio from Motorola
  •       Digital Radio from Hytera
  •       Unlicensed Digital Radios from Motorola

I stopped to think about this. The School District has no money, four incompatible radios and the need to provide safety, maintenance and transportation for students and faculty. The question immediately turned into why didn’t the retailer advise the customer of the problems of purchasing a disparate systems?

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Tags: Chicago Communications, Tech Talk, Education

Shared Broadband is Best Option for Public Interest

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I write this to all of those Police Chiefs, Fire Chiefs and Public Works Directors as well as the IT departments of all the towns and governments that oversee a budget.

Today’s technologies are merging and what you were individually responsible for ten years ago is not the same today. Your technology requirements are starting to converge with other agencies within your city. Police, Fire, Public Works, Administration and Park Districts are all now sharing the same connectivity paths.

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Tags: Public Safety Communications, Wireless Communication, Tech Talk

Ways To Improve Cellular or Radio Coverage In Buildings

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray

Thursday, February 26, 2015

We all share a common problem at one point or another. Poor radio coverage! Whether Cell Phone, Two-Way Radio, Wi-Fi or Wireless Data, RF (Radio Frequency) Wireless signals for the most part have the same characteristics for signal propagation. Different frequencies penetrate buildings and structures in a manner that signal loss will occur. This means you have good coverage outside, but you may have marginal coverage inside. You have marginal coverage outside, but you may have no coverage inside.

Building structures are made up of many different materials that either absorb RF or reflect RF. Either way a signal in the center of the building never seems to make it to you. You need to stand by the window in order to use your device.

Today’s solutions for signal loss in buildings or structures are far more advanced and lend itself to a seamless transition.

Let’s go through the acronyms:

DASDistributed Antenna System, a network of radio frequency cables or fiber optic cables with antenna terminations throughout a building or structure.

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Tags: Tech Talk, Bi-Directional Amplifier

Don’t Waste Time. Learn the Facts about Low Cost Radios.

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How many of you received a local trade flier indicating “Hi Power Radio, Built for Heavy Duty Use” or  “Feature-Packed, and Promises Uncompromising Performance.” Or maybe you purchased some radios from your Industrial Supply Company who carries them in their catalog. You buy a handful and they suit  your needs. You buy more and then more and then more. Now you have over 70 low cost radios all working against each other and your solution just became your problem. We see it day in and day out. People buy the cheap inexpensive FRS (Family Radio Service) radios for commercial use. It solves an immediate need, but creates a headache in the long term.

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Tags: Tech Talk, MOTOTRBO, Digital Two-Way Radios

IP Networks: The Evolution of the IT Director

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Every day we see it more and more. The term IT Director, CIO, MIS Coordinator are becoming the catchall for ANYTHING electronic. Chicago Communications deals with wireless devices, systems and networks. As we work closer and closer with IT departments to improve both radio, network and cellular coverage, connectivity between buildings was typically left up to the telephone company. Telephone lines and T1’s provisioned between buildings are now being replaced by IP Networks through Microwave and Fiber connections. Problem is, many of the systems in place are still legacy that require plain old telephone lines (POTS).

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Tags: Tech Talk

Radio Frequency ID for a Two-Way Radio?

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Think of this, a two-way radio transmits and receives voice and data, so why would I put an RFID volume knob on my portable radio?  For a lot of us we run small businesses, our radios may be at the most 10 in the building, but what about larger manufacturers who have over 10 radios? Some of our customers have over 1000 radios, managing them can become a job in itself. Putting inventory lists together, accounting for radio repairs in and out of service, shift changes of up to three a day, it’s bound to happen. The radio gets misplaced and the response you get is “I didn’t do it.” “I put it in the charger; I don’t know where it went.” It’s very frustrating! 

So now Motorola Solutions has come out with a volume knob RFID system that allows you to scan a radio in and out of inventory. This aids in asset tracking. If you have the proper scanner you can swipe a box of radios to immediately know which radios are in your possession. Upon sign out, you can swipe them out and account for the unit. At the end of the shift the radio comes back and you can follow it back into inventory for the night or next shift.                                                                            

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Tags: Two Way Radios, Tech Talk

Two Way Radio or IP Wireless Telephone?

Posted by Kendra Newlon

Monday, February 17, 2014

So you own a manufacturing company and your IT Manager recommendeds you get the latest in IP Wireless Telephone Technology. It allows you to leave your desk and be able to take a call virtually anywhere in your facility! Fantastic! Sign me up.

WHOA!!!! Let’s think about this…

1) Why do you need your people to get up and get away from their desk? I could see some of them requiring the need to be on the plant floor, but a whole lot of wireless handsets means a whole lot of batteries. In the future, these will need to be changed. By the way, how long do those telephone batteries last? With two way radios, you tell me how long you need them to last.

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Tags: Two Way Radios, Chicago Communications, Wireless Communication, Tech Talk, Technology

With the New year, it’s Time to Test your Back-up Plan!

Posted by Kendra Newlon

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I’ve written on this subject before, but we had a recent incident in which the radio system did not work when they went to back it up. When we build these radio systems, unless not budgeted for, we put in some type of backup system to allow for the continued radio operation in case of a failure. Granted, the backup system may be as simple as a mobile radio with a power supply, but it is something to communicate to the end users that there is a problem with the system. Not only is the backup radio essential but some type of plan or Standard Operating Procedure should be written and followed. During a crisis or emergency, the last thing you need to be thinking about is “What do I do now!”. Instead, having a documented plan in a place is key to a good emergency plan.

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Tags: Chicago Communications, Tech Talk, Back-Up Plan

Keep Your Communication Equipment Working like a Well Oiled Machine

Posted by Kendra Newlon

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Well 2013 is finally over. For some of you it was a good year, for the radio business it was a slow year. Coming off of the FCC’s Narrowbanding Mandate and all the radios sold in 2012 made us really look at our business and determine to focus on Service! Many of the police and fire departments are in limbo this year as Grants and Funding have not been as plentiful in the past years. In addition, with the FCC putting a freeze on the 470Mhz band, many police departments are sitting on their hands waiting for a direction from the FCC; that means slow radio sales.

The good news for some of you is that you are keeping your radios an extra year or two (maybe three). Your budgets are being spent on maintaining your existing equipment, whether a service contract for a 24 hour response or just routine maintenance. It is prolonging the inevitable. Technology is changing, but service teams, like Chicago Communications, are equipped with the latest in technology to meet whatever challenge is thrown towards us. From basic analog radio systems to the most advanced P25 Public Safety systems we can monitor and respond to service outages in any required timeframe you need. We can consult on your equipment with our contracts department to see whether it makes sense to put your equipment on a contract or actively seek replacement because of age or parts issues.

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Tags: Two Way Radios, Chicago Communications, Public Safety Communications, Wireless Communication, Radio System, Tech Talk, Safety Solutions, FCC, Maintenance/Installation/Service

Radio Tech and IT Manager in Wireless Communication: a Blurred Line

Posted by Kendra Newlon

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"So you are the IT Manager and you were just put in charge of the radio communications..."

Sound familiar?

I recently glanced through an article in the new (November 2013) Public Safety Communications Magazine from APCO. The title of the article “Communications Manager or IT Manager?” made me think of our own business. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a radio technician or IT technician…electronics is electronics, right? I wish I could say it was that easy.

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Tags: Two Way Radios, Chicago Communications, Wireless Communication, Radio System, Tech Talk, Technology, IT