AFRRCS FAQ #1: 9 Key Questions Regarding Participation

The Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System is one of the most advanced  of its kind in existence. As with any complex new technology, there is a constant demand for the most current information, particularly regarding participation and implementation. I’ve created a series of 3 FAQs to provide answers to the key questions we encounter from those seeking to adopt AFRRCS. The first deals with 9 key questions regarding the key roles and resources required for AFRRCS participation. The other two can be found here FAQ 2, and here FAQ 3.

1.) What is AFRRCS?

Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System (AFRRCS) is a province-wide trunked P25 radio system being launched in 2016 for use by first responder agencies.

2.) What are the internal/external staff resources that need to be allocated to participate in AFRRCS?

As a minimum, agencies planning to participate on the AFRRCS system are required to appoint an Agency Administrator and a Technical Administrator. Additionally, Trust Technician and Crypto Officer roles are also defined.

  • The Agency Administrator is an internal position within the agency that has signing authority.
  • The Technical Administrator manages the Agency’s fleet of radios and interfaces to AFRRCS regarding technical issues. (This role and the 2 following roles can be an internal or outsourced resource).
  • The Trust Technician performs the programming/install/servicing/user training of radios but does not talk directly to AFRRCS staff.
  • The Crypto Officer manages encryption related issues such accounts, encryption keys, and activities related to encryption. Note: that many agencies do not require encryption.

3.) Which roles can be outsourced or contracted to external parties?

  • Agency Administrator must be employed by the Agency and cannot be contracted out.
  • Technical Administrator, Trust Technician and Crypto Officer can be outsourced to third parties and/or bundled together with the Technical Administrator role.

4.) What is the Agency Administrator required to do?

  • Manage AFRRCS communications resources for the Agency.
  • Act as the single point of contact between the Agency and AFRRCS.
  • Sign agreements on behalf of the agency.
  • Apply for, receive, and delegate radio programming dongles.

5.) Who needs an AFRRCS Technical Administrator?

Any agency or organization who plans to make use of permitted P25 radios on AFRRCS must appoint a Technical Administrator.

6.) What is an AFRRCS Technical Administrator required to do?

The Technical Administrator is the entity that is registered with AFRRCS and authorized by the public safety agency to:

  • Enter into an agreement with the Agency to fulfill the role of Technical Administrator. The agreement is submitted to AFRRCS authorities as part of the agency’s AFRRCS sign-up process.
  • Design, implement and update the Agency’s radio fleet map.
  • Log into the AFRRCS’ Harris UAS system to enable and disable specific radio ID’s.
  • Provide technical support to the agency’s radio users.
  • Represent the Agency when resolving technical issues with the AFRRCS authorities.
  • Contact PSAPs as required.
  • Manage P25 devices such as consoles and recorders.

7.) What is an AFRRCS Trust Technician required to do?

  • Program P25 radios for the agency.
  • Install and repair radios.
  • Manual loading of encryption keys.
  • User training.
  • Console installation, programming, management.
  • Contact other PSAPs as required.

8.) What is an AFRRCS Agency Crypto Officer required to do?

  • Manage encryption accounts and passwords.
  • Configure encryption networks.
  • Re-key talk groups, user and system keys using the AFRRCS UAS.
  • Manage encryption keys through the Key Management Facility (KMF).

9.) What other activities can I ask my AFRRCS Technical Administrator to do?

The Technical Administrator could also assume the roles of Trust Technician and Crypto officer and could also do the following:

  • Submit applications for new licenses or license amendments to Industry Canada.
  • Install, troubleshoot and repair P25 radios and related equipment.
  • Supply and support accessories related to P25 radios .
    Supply and support other P25 equipment such as dispatch consoles, pagers, voice recorders, extenders, distributed antenna systems (DAS) and tactical/vehicular repeaters.
  • Train users of P25 equipment.
  • Conduct coverage testing and P25 radio performance testing.

Westcan ACS is on the cutting edge of Public Safety and First Responder Communications, and are the leading experts on AFRRCS Implementation and Integration. I’d like to extend this opportunity to answer any questions you might have directly, and can be reached by filling out the form below. I look forward to hearing from you!

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