Green light for BroadWay's next stage
The next step has been taken on the road to enabling a pan-European mobile broadband system for public protection and disaster relief.
On 19 February 2019, a request for tender (RFT) was published by the BroadWay project (broadway-info.eu) to procure solutions to enable a pan-European mobile broadband system for public safety. The goal is to enable ‘operational mobility’ — the ability for public safety responders to carry out their operations wherever they are in Europe, whenever they need to, and in collaboration with responders located in and from anywhere in Europe.
Crime and disasters are not limited to fixed geographical borders, and there is a need for European first responders to be able to communicate, share and access information regardless of the country in which they will respond. This is the challenge tackled by the BroadWay project. A team comprising 11 government/agency procurers from 11 European countries have come together to procure innovation activity to enable a pan-European mobile broadband system for public protection and disaster relief (PPDR). Europe is naturally geopolitically fragmented, with no harmonised spectrum for PPDR mobile broadband and no single mobile carrier covering the whole of the continent.
BroadWay procurers share a ‘common challenge’ to find innovative solutions that surpass the current minimal operability. BroadWay will spend approximately nine million euros following a pre-commercial procurement (PCP) process that will comprise three phases — design, prototype and pilot.
Up to five supply teams will be selected to provide designs. Three of the best team designs will be taken forward to develop prototypes. The final pan-European pilot will be developed by the suppliers of the best two prototypes. The process remains competitive throughout with pilot systems expected to be live to Technology Readiness Level 8 within 2022.
The BroadWay group of procurers is represented by Astrid-Belgium, acting as a procurer in its own name and on behalf of the BroadWay group of procurers, also including:
- French Ministry of Interior
- Italian Ministry of Interior
- Spanish Ministry of Interior
- Police of the Netherlands
- An Garda Siochana, Ireland
- NAKIT, Czech Republic
- State Infocommunication Foundation, Estonia
- State Security Networks (VIRVE), Finland
- Ministry of Citizen Protection and Security, Greece
- Special Telecommunication Services, Romania
The program is 90% funded by the European Commission. Public Safety Communication Europe (PSCE) Forum acts as project coordinator. PSCE is also based in Brussels and acts as the contact point with the European Commission. Legal firm Bird & Bird provides legal expertise to support the PCP process, which is a derivation from the European Public Procurement Law.
This BroadWay ‘common challenge’ is divided into objectives which are set out in the RFT. Pan-European governance, architecture, availability and security form the primary focus. All solutions must be standardised, technically validated and most importantly, evaluated and accepted by real end users. Future ecosystems of applications, devices and further innovation must be supported, with the aim to leverage the fast development of mobile technology.
The BroadWay Practitioner Evaluation Team (PEVT) currently brings together 49 experts from all responder disciplines across Europe. It will prepare the process and carry out the evaluation of the final pilot system in 2022. PEVT is led by the Bavarian Red Cross (based in Munich), a key end user of the resulting technology. PEVT will use the Trial Guidance Methodology (TGM). TGM is a key outcome of the Driver+ project (driver-project.eu), which develops techniques to assist public safety practitioners to trial and evaluate new innovations, such as those that will be developed during BroadWay.
Dialogue with innovative suppliers
An open market consultation ran from June to September 2018, involving dialogue with around 60 potential suppliers, 27 of which responded to a comprehensive questionnaire. This helped us to shape the BroadWay RFT.
Since releasing the RFT, more than 80 innovative suppliers have expressed an interest in participating. Consortia comprising different skills are expected to deliver against the BroadWay objectives, with a compulsory inclusion of mobile and/or satellite operators and independent and impartial test and validation capabilities. Test and validation will also include security assurance and practitioner evaluation capabilities.
Decade of development
PSCE was formed 10 years ago as a membership forum with the aim to become a sustainable organisation. This has been achieved through the involvement in many European-level initiatives including research projects and policy activities. PSCE runs a conference twice per year, each one held in a different country with the aim to bring the discussion close to the public safety practitioner end users.
PSCE has three committees — end users, industry and research. The aim is to foster the dialogue between these three committees towards the improvement of communication systems for public safety.
In 2014, several members of the PSCE end-user committee approached PSCE to ask for help to begin this process. The process began to form the original team of 17 partners to carry out project BroadMap (www.broadmap.eu). BroadMap ran for 12 months and produced two key deliverables:
- End User Requirements Knowledgebase — around 700 end-user requirements were validated by 270-plus public safety organisations across 18 European countries and all major public safety disciplines.
- SpiceNet Reference Architecture — an abstract business architecture covering harmonisation, interoperability, governance, networks and users.
These deliverables helped the European Commission to structure the requirement for a PCP project. The BroadWay team was then formed, a proposal submitted in August 2018, and a contract agreed with the European Commission for BroadWay to begin on 1 May 2019.
Several other external activities led by PSCE support the BroadWay goal:
- PSCE is a Market Representation Partner of 3GPP.
- PSCE co-hosted together with FirstNet the second annual International Public Safety Broadband Leaders forum for government executives on 24 May 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.
- PSCE acts as vice-chair in two new standardisation activities: the CEN Workshop on the semantic and syntactical interoperability for crisis and disaster management and the CEN Workshop on the Trial Guidance Methodology.
PSCE recently launched a new working group in collaboration with the GSM Association to explore scenarios and needs for mission-critical IoT — a highly complementary viewpoint to the standardised mission-critical 3GPP standards that BroadWay expects to build on.
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