Intelligence Monitoring 1

Real-Time Public Safety and Intelligence Monitoring

May 18, 2021
Public-safety and intelligence agencies must monitor the spectrum environment, identify suspicious signals of interest, and mitigate interference sources in real-time.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why real-time spectrum monitoring is so critical to public safety.
  • Public-safety agencies’ radio communications are particularly susceptible to interference and jamming.
  • How a portable, compact, and networked real-time spectrum analyzer can help identify and mitigate sources of interference.

Public safety and intelligence agencies depend on reliable access to the wireless spectrum in their day-to-day operations. It’s expected that public-safety agencies will spend $2.772 billion on Internet of Things (IoT) devices by 2025,1 and new wireless communication standards are being developed to help first responders in the field communicate and coordinate during emergencies.

Meanwhile, the widespread availability of low-cost devices also creates new threats. Illegal and unlicensed signals may cause interference that disrupts critical communication infrastructure, and malicious actors can communicate with each other using low-powered, sporadic, and frequency-hopping signals that are difficult to detect.

To maintain safety and security, public-safety and intelligence agencies must monitor the spectrum environment, identify suspicious signals of interest, and mitigate interference sources in real-time.

The Challenge

Public-safety agencies use a variety of signal standards for communications. The most common are APCO-25 (P25) and TETRA, a suite of standards for digital mobile radio communications designed specifically for public-safety organizations in North America and the European Union.

For a variety of reasons, these signals are vulnerable to jamming and other challenges from interference. This risk of interference will only grow as the number of devices increase and agencies deploy more IoT devices and other sensors that use higher-frequency standards.

In addition, the sources of interference, whether malicious or inadvertent, are often hard to detect. They may be low-powered, frequency-hopping signals of short duration transmitting at irregular intervals. With public-safety agencies operating across a wide geographic area, detection and location of these signals with traditional methods is often extremely difficult.

The Solution

Handling these sorts of scenarios requires spectrum-analysis hardware, software, and accessories to detect suspicious signals in real-time, and characterize and locate their source. Then, steps must be taken to remove the source, resolve the problem, and maintain control of the spectrum environment.

One example of such a suite of tools is thinkRF’s real-time spectrum-analysis platform, a compact, portable, and networked platform for remote deployment. It enables agencies to deploy multiple units in the field in a mobile or static network configuration for continuous monitoring across a wide geographic area.

Initially, users can capture a baseline of the signal environment to determine normal levels of signal activity. Then they can configure triggers that automatically alert the user to signals falling outside of this normal range in real-time. This makes it possible to detect and analyze short-duration, sporadic, or low-powered signals that may otherwise be missed.

Depending on their requirements, users can conduct deeper analysis using several third-party applications designed for public-safety monitoring use cases. From a centralized location, they’re able to determine the type of signal, analyze signal properties, and demodulate the signal to gather more information on whether the signal is suspicious. When such analyzers are equipped with embedded GNSS (GPS) technology, they can be synchronized to provide location and measurement data, allowing users to locate the source of the signal in order to remove it.

Built on software-defined radio technology, thinkRF’s platforms take an open approach to spectrum monitoring and can be integrated with third-party hardware and software. RF application developers or system integrators also could develop purpose-built software designed specifically for public-safety and intelligence agencies using a full suite of APIs and development environments.

The Results

Public-safety and intelligence agencies can maintain control of the wireless spectrum, mitigate the risk of inadvertent or malicious interference, and detect illegal or suspicious signals of interest in real-time. By deploying a network of analyzers across a wide geographic area, users are able to protect critical communication infrastructure, respond to emergencies more effectively, and ensure the safety and security of the public.


1. Global IoT For Public Safety Market Will Reach USD 2,772 Million By 2025: Zion Market Research

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