U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Value of In-Building Communications

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 37 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2010 Pages: 34,36,38
David Tuttle
Date Published
February 2010
4 pages
This article emphasizes the benefits and importance of an in-building wireless (IBW) capability in commercial buildings to allow for communication to the outside and within the building in emergencies.
Building codes and ordinances nationwide are increasingly containing standards that require all newly constructed commercial building to include radio coverage that provides for public safety signals within the building. With these ordinances in place, however, less than one-third of the Nation's first responders have capabilities to communicate from inside buildings to command and control posts outside, or the ability to integrate with the building's automation system in order to view video systems that show elevators, offices, stairways, etc. Thousands of law enforcement and public safety agencies nationwide have already obtained 4.9 GHz licenses that will facilitate in-building communications. These new broadband systems, when tied into the building automation systems, provide law enforcement officials and first responders with access to video from security cameras, as well as clear-two-way communications with individuals inside building areas difficult to reach. With these systems in place, officials can access pertinent information to help expedite and coordinate rescue plans during management of an emergency. In addition, mobile phones are now a primary means of communication; in emergencies, they must work indoors as well as outdoors. Reports by the IBW Association, however, indicate that real estate and public safety communities are challenged with providing full in-building coverage for mobile phones. The areas with the greatest need for coverage improvements include parking garages, elevators, and open areas. An IBW infrastructure leverages a distributed antenna system (DAS) for in-building cellular coverage. Using best practices for IBW should be conducted through partnerships with in-building wireless vendors. Properly designed IBW DAS provides a predictable coverage expectation for first responders. This article outlines the variables in design considerations.