Considerations for AFRRCS Migration

The Alberta First Responder Radio Communications System is one of the most advanced communications projects in Canada’s history. There has been a fair amount of misinformation regarding the system itself, who qualifies for access, what the various technological and administrative requirements are, and how to best begin the migration process. I’ve taken the time to assemble a list of key considerations based on the most frequently asked questions I’ve encountered in regards to the AFFRCS migration.

  1. Do you need to be on AFRRCS? Is your existing radio infrastructure currently integrated with your Dispatch Centre? If so, the dispatch organization & dispatched resources may need to be on AFRRCS.
  2. When going with AFRRCS, your organization must have an Agency Administrator who is an employee with signing authority.
    • Understand radio communications usage in the agency
    • Training is required – AFRRCS Policies & Guidelines
    • Single point of contact for the Agency & the Radio Service Organization (RSO)
    • Cannot be contracted out
    • Receives, applies for, delegates agency radio programming dongles
  3. You will need a Technical Administrator:
    • Can be contracted out
    • Understands P25 terminology, components, operational processes
    • Understands Fleet Mapping concepts and the AFRRCS implementation of Fleet mapping
    • Capable of logging into UAS (Universal Administration System) to access & administer user accounts, talk groups, system monitoring at the Agency level, Activity Reporting
    • Understands concepts of over the air rekeying (OTAR)
    • Establish a support policy for the Agency
    • Initiate trouble calls to the RSO
    • Manage use of VTI
    • Manage & configure Voice Logger, Consoles
    • Training required for AFRRCS Policies, P25 System Administration, P25 Fleet Mapping, Unified System Administration
  4. You’ll also require an Agency Trusted Technician:
    • Can be contracted out
    • Required to have a working technical knowledge of radios, programming, agency communications environment
    • Responsibilities include programming radios, receives keys from Agency Crypto Officer (Agency Directed), Manual Key Loading to radios, Radio repairs, Mobile installation, Retain inventory, inventory management
    • Trains Agency End Users
    • Console installation, programming, updating, database management
    • Manages & configures voice logger
    • Manages & configures telephones
    • Does not liaise directly with RSO to troubleshoot
    • Contact other PSAPs directly
    • Minimum training – AFRRCS Policies, Vendor Radio Technical Training
    • Minimum Security Level – Refer to AFRRCS Security Policy and Agency Minimum
  5. As an Agency End User you’ll need a basic understanding of:
    • Radio indicators & icons
    • Radio alert tones
    • Make & Receive Group Calls
    • Change groups, change systems
    • Declare, receive and clear emergency
    • Place & receive individual calls
    • Return missed individual calls
    • Utilize scanning function
    • Change battery
    • Minimum training required – Subscriber radio user course, Common event talk groups, Agency talk groups
  6. You’ll need a  Console Operator:
    • Required background – Console functions, dispatch knowledge
    • Function requirements – Pick & select communication channels, transmit & receive group & individual calls, transmit, receive & clear emergency calls, review call history, modify communication modules, create, modify & transmit on Patches & Simulselects, Change console setups, Use special & enhanced console features
    • Minimum training requirements – Console vendor specific training, AFRRCS training for Patching & Use of Common Event Talk Groups
    • Minimum security requirements – Refer to AFRRCS security policy, Agency minimum
  7. And finally, an Agency Crypto Officer:
    • Required background – Understanding of encryption usage in agency
    • Responsibilities include – Manage accounts, Configure crypto networks, Rekey talk groups, user & system keys using the Unified Administration System (UAS), Manage encryption keys through Key Management Facility (KMF)
    • Minimum Training – P25 System Administration, KMF course, Unified System Administration, AFRRCS policies, Radio vendor course
    • Minimum Security level – Refer to AFRRCS Security Policy, Agency Standard

When all of the above are examined in total, a few questions arise:

  • What is our requirement for being on AFRRCS?
  • Is it possible for our dispatch resources to continue to support us if we continue with our existing radio system for now?
  • Can we outsource some of our AFRRCS responsibilities to a trusted outside party?

These questions are best answered by a qualified communications integrator with AFRRCS experience. I’d be happy to discuss any questions or comments you might have, you can reach me through the form below.

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