The national security of the States of European Union is of paramount importance. Improving national security can be improved through the greater cooperation between the armed forces and emergency services of Member States.
Article 222 of the Treaty of Lisbon states: “The Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster”
Cooperation cannot be performed without interoperability, that is, the ability of national Public Protection & Disaster Relief (PPDR) resources to:
- communicate through voice/group calls and short messages
- operate on jointly agreed procedures
At present there are two main PPDR communication systems in Europe: TETRA and TETRAPOL both of which are expected to remain operational until 2025.
However, PPDR Communication among Member States is limited due to the incompatibility of the radio systems (TETRA + TETRAPOL) and the commercial unavailability of suitable interconnection interfaces (TETRA-TETRA + TETRAPOL-TETRAPOL). In addition, the current legal regulations and the lack of common procedures have limited national forces when operating abroad.
Full interoperability between these systems would allow first responders to communicate through their own terminals in a visiting Country with both local and visiting counterparts. This capability can be achieved by interconnecting networks with gateways, which enable visiting terminals to migrate to foreign networks using the radio coverage of the visited countries and sharing talk groups.
The EU recognises that only a joint effort among all stakeholders will enable this interoperability to become a reality. To this end, ISITEP Consortium joins together End-users, PPDR communication operators, PPDR national network manufacturers, Research Organisations and SMEs to implement a truly coordinated European response to achieve interoperability on the field.
The ISITEP (Inter System Interfaces for TETRA-TETRAPOL Networks) project will achieve operational interoperability among European first responders by addressing the regulative, organisational, operational and technical issues. The project will define public specifications of technical and procedural innovations, as well as novel processes for safety applications.
The project objective will be obtained by jointly addressing four components that are coherently defined, developed and integrated through a novel Framework (see diagram):
- A Mission-oriented Framework containing a standardized model of operational procedures and associated functional radio model
- A European Inter System Interface (ISI) cloud1 network integrating the PPDR national infrastructures to allow roaming capability services within a secure framework.
- Enhanced User Terminals: integrating TETRA/TETRAPOL technology into a novel terminal architecture based on programmable devices (Tablet, Smartphones).
- Interoperability enabling tools including tools for infrastructures dimensioning, training, business model assessment and services for safety operations.
The ISITEP concept consists of the joint integration of complex and different technologies and current diverging or non-existing PPDR operational procedures into lean and coherent framework that:
- provides interoperability among PPDR resources of ISITEP federated Countries overcoming current legal
- operational and technological barriers;
- allows migration of PPDR resources with their own terminals;
- simplifies the entrance of new Member Countries into the ISITEP European network;
- introduces new generation of PPDR terminals enhanced with cloud applications;
- defines public specifications and protocols for networks and terminals suitable also for future networks;
- sustains a feasible business model of growth.
To enable a cost-efficient integrated solution for interoperability, ISITEP pursues the integration of PPDR framework introducing:
- an Inter System Interoperability interface based on the IP protocol suite. The interface will be derived from European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) ISI TETRA standard;
- a novel terminal architecture based on open source software for interoperability added value functions;
- a standardised model of procedures based on best practices of ISITEP end users.
The impact of the ISITEP project will enable the European first responder stakeholders to:
- the development of the full compatible set of ISI prototypes which is expected to lower the production costs of these devices
- for the first time in the TETRA and TETRAPOL history, the formation of a business model for implementing the roaming between all the European countries;
- to make their national PPDR services efficiently cooperate together during the life cycle of their current systems (2016 - 2025).
The project will also provide the multi-disciplinary operational framework to allow first responders to develop new operational procedures within an international standardised roaming capability as well as providing a business sustainability tool to estimate the benefits and savings from having additional interoperable resources are available for PPDR events.
Above all, the success of the ISITEP project will enable the first responders of EU member states to work more efficiently and effectively together as a single force; helping to save lives and reduce the impact of man-made or environmental security threats.
Conclusions and Results
ISITEP framework allows to integrate all the existing European network types (i.e. multi-vendor TETRA and TETRAPOL); full interoperability between these systems allows first responders to communicate through their own terminals in a visiting Country with both local and visiting counterparts.
ISITEP project achieved important results towards cooperation among European countries, through the definition of a complete framework merging a standardized operational model, an associated functional radio model and a common set of procedures, specifically defined considering the needs of
European PPDR end-users. In particular, it provides:
- the capability to communicate among teams from different countries, achieving technical interoperability at both radio and network levels by the use of specific hardware such as the ISITEP deployable TETRA-TETRAPOL gateway and the ISITEP enhanced terminals;
- operational interoperability, enabled by the sharing of a set of common PPDR typical services, considered indispensable by the end-users;
- common procedures, including technical, organizational and legal aspects, which specify the essential rules of communications. Since a national legal framework has to guarantee rights and obligations for visiting teams in foreign areas, operational procedures have to be supported by multilateral agreements (treaties) among countries.
ISITEP project can be therefore considered as an input for European countries to improve their international agreements (treaties, agreements, etc.) whose definition has to be finalized simultaneously to the adaptation of the framework. A first example of this is represented by the Norway-Sweden ISI project to which ISITEP has given a strong contribution.
Thanks to the increased cooperation achieved through this project, a better management of migration at the European national borders is expected, with a reduction of cross border crime activities.