The Zetron Blog: Z-Wire

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5 Wellness Trends that Will Influence the Public Safety Industry in 2022

The industry is still obviously dealing with the continued impacts of COVID-19. And while we aren’t off this wild rollercoaster yet, we’re hopeful 2022 will start to provide our industry with new opportunities and beginnings. Health and wellness are both mental and physical games. It’s important to have healthy telecommunicators that have the awareness and the right tools to live well throughout their career, both on and off the job. We surveyed attendees at the NENA (National Emergency Number Association) 2021 trade show and APCO (Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials) International 2021 trade show to discover how their organizations are continuing to evolve by acknowledging the need for wellness programs and bringing them into agency life. Based on the survey results, some developing trends in public safety wellness appear evident for 2022. Enhanced Safety Protocols After a long wait, in-person gatherings are once again becoming more prominent and frequent. With this ability comes great responsibility, and agencies across the globe are rising to the challenge! Many PSAPs are taking a “safety in layers” approach to plan a return to in-person workstations. In our recent wellness survey, 98% of respondents had at least one, and as many as seven new safety, health, or hygiene models implemented to protect their employees. To enter agencies, we’ll see continued health screenings like temperature checks and rapid COVID-19 testing, 37% of those surveyed shared screening and rapid testing were already being utilized in their PSAP. Some state agencies are requiring vaccination to enter. Onsite workers will adhere to mask policies and social distancing. In addition, 67% of our wellness survey respondents indicated work from home options were introduced to their PSAP. Working from home is definitely on the rise and will continue to become a more accepted and normal mode of operation. All of these methods and more will help create a multi-layer approach that gives our first responders everywhere a safer way to be together. Find out more on remote working here. Supply Chain Disruptions Will Have Major Impact The supply chain issue has hit every industry, and unfortunately, public safety is no exception. We’ve talked about this with many of our partners and this problem has hit every aspect of PSAP life. So, what does it mean for 2022? Agencies can expect to see prices rise and shortages occur. They may not be able to get exactly what they’re looking for precisely when needed, so being flexible and working with your partners to develop an acceptable and/or interim plan B may be more necessary and frequent. Labor shortages will be even more challenging to overcome than price increases and supply shortages. Only 7% of wellness survey participants indicated they were using A/B/C teams at their PSAP. However, implementing this sort of system in the coming year could help deal with labor shortages creatively. The nationwide labor shortage has caused wages to increase as much as 20% – 30% in some regions. The United States has around 95,000 police, fire and ambulance dispatchers throughout the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They handle around 240 million calls in the United States every year, according to National Emergency Number Association (NENA). It is imperative to retain these skilled individuals, as three out of five hires do not proceed past training on average. Peer Support Programs or Groups for the Public Safety Industry The pandemic dramatically brought our lives to a halt. Yet, this pause allowed us all to reflect on what matters and how we incorporate easily maintainable strategies and a positive outlook for wellness in the workplace.  We want to retain our staff and continue to have them healthy in this stressful time. The rise of peer support programs and/or groups are being formed at every size agency, as evidenced by 59% of our survey participants sharing that their centers now have peer support systems in place. Covid has taught us the importance of taking care of oneself, both mental and physical. And this is being carried into small PSAPs with the formation of a once-a-month group talk to larger agencies where a formal program has been created with trained Peer Support leads. This has become a necessary part of agency life going forward. For more information on how to create your own Peer Support program, please feel free to review our webinar series. Click here for more information. Flexibility Will Reign Scheduling supervisors will need to continue to meet staff where they are at and offer flexibility in how people participate. Staff will expect meetings to have both in-person and virtual options for attendance. Some members will still need to quarantine on occasion but will want to be part of important updates. So, making sure the team remains updated, wherever they are, will need to continue. Flexibility will also go beyond the in-house experience. Directors will need to continue to be flexible as we enter our new normal and adjust to local health department recommendations and adapt in the face of supply chain issues and labor shortages. We still can’t control much with new variants still on the rise, so being flexible and having backup plans will be key! 93% of those surveyed at APCO and NENA agreed and answered yes to whether they had an existing backup plan in place. Public Safety Industry Focus on Continued Education There is no sugar coating it. The public safety industry was flipped on its back when the pandemic hit. First responder professionals everywhere had to figure out how to create a safe workplace, work remotely, and do so fast to survive. Many of us never want to be in that position again, so we’re doing something to prevent it. Across the country, many agencies are seeking certifications for staff. These certifications (gained in regional training or at the larger national shows, such as NENA and APCO) help to bolster knowledge and allow professionals to gain new skills. As a result, we have seen a big spike in education surrounding staff and supervisors (lots of new ENPs – yay you!). At Zetron, we believe there is always room to learn and grow, so this is definitely a trend we can get behind! Conclusion: 5 Wellness Trends that Will Influence the Public Safety Industry in 2022 As you can see from these trends, our industry still has a lot of uncertainty. They aren’t the wellness trends you used to read in years prior, but they are reality. That said, we’re still feeling positive and believe 2022 will be a big year for our industry!  Creating a wellness program that reduces agency liability and turnover due to improved morale effects the individual, agency and overall response performance. Use these trends and predictions to plan your wellness program for 2022. They will help guide your decisions and inspire your processes. What wellness trends do you predict for 2022? Comment below and let us know! Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!

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better together

What ‘Better Together’ Means at Year End 2021

A note from our President, Scott French Year end is often a time of reflection. 2021 was inarguably a year like no other. Two years ago, it would’ve been unimaginable how dramatically the lives of virtually every person on the planet would be impacted and how different the world would look as a result of a worldwide pandemic. Just one year ago at this time the outlook felt cruelly uncertain, after an exasperating initial ten months of virtually endless and unprecedented bad news. As we reflect on 2021, there’s no question we’re not out of the woods yet. Variants and vaccinations continue to trade punches in an ever-changing battle to bring back normalcy, which still feels a ways away and will likely look very different than our conventional definitions of “normal.” But. Fortunately, this year, there is a definitive but. Finally, we have started to see some of that light at the end of the tunnel, as at least some of the personal and professional conveniences we unknowingly took for granted have slowly and cautiously started coming back, including our abilities to travel, gather, and connect in person. We’re not there yet, but at the end of this year there is at least finally legitimate cause for enduring optimism that’s been missing for nearly two years. We’re getting there through the efforts, education and hard work of so many, it’s truly a time once again to be thankful and hopeful. Optimism is in the air. As you probably know by now, 2021 was a big year of change, and optimism, for Zetron as well. In March, we announced the acquisition of the company by Codan, and then subsequently announced the closing and merger of Zetron and the LMR business of Codan Communications (another Codan portfolio company). Since that time, we’ve been hard at work integrating two highly synergistic and complementary businesses to become the new Zetron. Collectively, we provide a new end-to-end mission critical communications platform. It’s two businesses that are absolutely and simply Better Together. Better Together became a Zetron theme in 2021 and is the source of our optimism for 2022 and beyond. As a global community we’ve discovered we’re better working together against a global pandemic, and at Zetron we are also better as a combined company that’s capable of delivering the complete communications continuum, be it for public safety, federal, or commercial applications where communications are the lifeblood of mission critical operations. Integrating companies is not easy, and we still have lots of work to do. Our focus has been on making it as seamless as possible for our customers and partners. While the outcome will benefit all, we understand the critical (in many cases, lifesaving) work of our customers never stops and doesn’t necessarily care today about the value being Better Together at Zetron will bring tomorrow. So, the commitments to legendary quality and customer service, not coincidentally shared by Zetron and Codan, remain our top priority while we integrate. But because I’ve proclaimed year end 2021 as a time for optimism, I’d like to share just a glimpse of the upside and promise that Better Together means for Zetron customers and partners worldwide. Better Together means Zetron customers now, and going forward, will have access to a fully integrated end-to-end mission critical communications platform that’s wider, deeper, more capable, and more valuable than ever before. Better Together means Zetron legitimately stands and delivers at the intersection of Command & Control, Land Mobile Radio, and Broadband. Able to deliver The Power to Respond and BE HEARD for customers regardless of where they are today or have aspirations to go in their technology journey to better serve their respective communities and customers. Better Together means new and true choice for mission critical communications customers. Zetron’s unrivaled commitment to open standards, interoperability, and flexibility means whether Zetron is your platform, or your point solution, you’ll never be locked in, cornered, or strong-armed to use technology that’s not best of breed for YOUR specific use case. Better Together means new innovation across the entire incident response continuum, backed by two of the most proven and trusted brands in mission critical communications. Now standing together, as one team, with only one mission…it’s all we do. Needless to say, we have a lot to be optimistic about for 2022 and beyond, as do Zetron customers and partners. Together, we will ALL be better. To our customers and partners, we genuinely appreciate your ongoing business and trust, and are excited to work with you in the new year. To everyone, we wish you the happiest of holidays, a hopeful and healthy new year, and we look forward to sharing more about the new Zetron in 2022. Best Regards, Scott French President Zetron, a Codan Company

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Why Public Safety is Under Cyber Attack and How to Prepare For It

Did you know October was National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM)? Yes, October is now officially in the books, but cybersecurity is a topic that needs to be top of mind twelve months a year. NCSAM is a collaborative effort between the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and its public and private partners — including the National Cyber Security Alliance — to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safe and secure online. This is especially important in public safety and organizations that provide critical communications for obvious reasons. As such, in tribute to NCSAM, and as a reminder that it needs to be a priority year round, Zetron is pleased to provide the following guest post by one of our trusted technology partners, SecuLore. Cyber-attacks on government networks are growing exponentially, and in some cases – with lethal consequences! Public Safety networks are under cyber-attack because they are a high value/high vulnerability target to hackers. The very nature of ‘always-on’ computers and mission-critical 9-1-1 services make Public Safety networks the perfect target for ransomware and cryptomining/cryptojacking, and the impacts are significant. For the first six months of 2021 cryptojacking volume hit 51.1 million registered attacks, as published in the 2021 mid-year SonicWall Cyber Threat Report. Similarly, SecuLore’s Cybersecurity Attack Archive indicates there have been over 100 Public Safety cyber-attacks and more than 250 Local Government cyber-attacks (disclosed) in the USA in the past 24 months (a rolling quantity, often higher). By the end of 2021 Cybersecurity Ventures reports that ransomware is expected to attack a business every 11 seconds, and ransomware damages are estimated to hit $20 BILLION. How Are Hackers Attacking Public Safety? The most common attack methods used by hackers against Public Safety include (not limited to): • Brute force attacks, compromised Remote Desktop Protocol and Virtual Private Network credentials are the top three common infection vectors. Reciprocity reports there were 377.5 million brute force attacks on RDPs in Q1 of 2021. • Phishing / Social engineering • Compromise of Active Directory via various techniques including credential stuffing. Enables the intruders to effectively distribute malware and collect data using AD itself. • Hackers probe targets using Exploit Kits to deposit various malicious “payloads” e.g., ransomware. Exploit kits can be acquired as a service (RAAS) via the dark web (Internet, the cloud, etc. • TDoS and DDoS attacks cause service disruptions at PSAPs that can be life-affecting when real callers cannot reach the help they need. Additionally, there can be costs associated with these attacks that certainly include the time wasted when Telecommunicators have to triage between real and fraudulent calls. Steps Public Safety Should Take to Harden the Target Holistic Security Approach ✓ Continuous behavior-based cybersecurity monitoring of your network is the most important aspect of protection! ✓ Vulnerability assessments – Per the Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture (TFOPA), vulnerability assessments should occur at a minimum of every 90 days across the whole of the infrastructure to ensure your cyber-defense preparations are functioning as expected. Exception per CSRIC VII: if the type of cyber monitoring in use provides weekly reports and regular external analysis, then vulnerability assessments could instead be done annually. ✓ NIST 800-53 Rev 5 CA-7(1) recommends employing independent assessors or assessment teams to monitor the controls in the system on an ongoing basis. ✓ Recommended Mitigation Methods for Ransomware include: • Comprehensive backup strategy which includes frequent backup testing (see below). It is the most important step in ransomware recovery. • Preventative architecture techniques including employing least privilege, especially with admin credentials (Limit admin permissions to the lowest level required to perform each person’s job responsibilities). • Endpoint protection ✓ Create strong passwords, requiring sufficiently high entropy. SecuLore recommends 12+ character password from an unrestricted alphabet (include special characters!). A computer-generated password ensures a high entropy result. (NIST SP 800-132 Recommendation for Password-Based Key Derivation – December 2010 describes Entropy as; “A measure of the amount of uncertainty in an unknown value”). ✓ Train your staff in cyber hygiene. Training is widely available and can help reduce risk by up to 40% (e.g., SecuLore’s Cybersecurity Hygiene Training). ✓ Hide your super-secret info (encryption keys, API keys, etc.), in an encrypted wallet or vault rather than plain text files. ✓ Use MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) and only access the network via IT approved devices. ✓ Lock down remote access. Any remote access to critical systems should first enter a sandboxed environment (i.e., via VPN). If it is not operationally necessary to provide remote access, remove it entirely. ✓ Secure your ports by controlling access with a firewall and closing ports that are not being used. ✓ Keep patches up to date (police your vendors too!) ✓ Have a well-thought-out Incident Response Plan in place and test it on a timely basis. See TFOPA. ✓ Keep complete/regular backups using the 3-2-1 approach and test them on a prescribed schedule to ensure they will work when needed. Questions to consider when testing your backups: • What needs to be backed up? Are you considering all your critical data? • How often should you test? Are you testing too often or too little? • Are you able to restore the data? • Was the recovery accurate and effective? • Was the recovery reliable? • How to test without putting your “production” system at risk? Implementation Planning Considerations • Have contingency plans for offline operations • Ensure personnel are trained in offline operations • Have manual methods of performing mandatory functions • Partner with nearby ECCs for support • Consider vendor and 3rd party services, and make sure they have contingencies too! • Prepare physical copies of critical documents and store them safely and keep them updated • Have printed lists of emergency contacts and store them safely and keep them updated • Consider cyber insurance to help pay for 3rd party assistance, NOT for paying ransom (paying ransom should be an absolute last resort) Cybersecurity References Applicable to Public Safety • DHS Cyber Risks to Next Generation 9-1-1 • DHS Cybersecurity Directives • APCO Cybersecurity Introduction • TFOPA Reports • NIST Cybersecurity Framework • NENA Security for Next-Generation 9-1-1 Standard (NG-SEC) NENA-STA-040.2-201X (originally 75-001, v1) (under rewrite at this time) • CISA & SAFECOM Transition Resources for NG9-1-1 • CYBERSECURITY | iCERT 2021 ( • Cybersecurity Guidelines | Resources | SecuLore Solutions • Cybersecurity • The National Institute of Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework is an excellent source of best practices to defend against or improve the odds of recovering from a successful cyber-attack. • In August 2020 the FCC’s Advisory Committee, CSRIC-VII included reference to the ‘Center for Internet Security® (CIS) model for improving cybersecurity practices. CSRIC-7 also formally recommended implementing the appropriate industry-recognized cybersecurity controls in their entirety where possible, or in phases if necessary, during the transition to NG9-1-1. See Appendix D of the CSRIC Report. On September 30, 2021 while announcing CIS Community Defense Model 2.0, CIS stated that the bottom line is that implementation of CIS Controls, and specifically IG1, are a robust foundation for your cybersecurity program. • The NIST’s “A Guide for Managed Service Providers to Conduct, Maintain and Test Backup Files” is a great resource for the Managed Service Providers (MSP) that typically operate the ESInet for Public Safety to use to improve their cybersecurity and the cybersecurity of their PSAP customers. Additional details relating to topics mentioned herein may be found at SecuLore’s Webinar Archive, or contact By: Tom Breen, Cybersecurity Liaison, SecuLore Solutions, LLC Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!

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Is Your Organization Prioritizing Lone Worker Safety?

Fieldwork is dangerous—especially when working alone or in small teams and remote areas. However, there are often no alternatives for professionals in the utilities, construction, transportation, safety, and security industries. Wires must be repaired, lines must be checked, equipment and materials must be transported, and security posts must be staffed. Risks are part of the job, and variables are everywhere. Classifications of lone workers are wider spread than most of us ever consider. After all, anyone who works isolated from others can be considered a lone worker. This includes those working in fixed positions, such as dispatchers, guards, or even mobile workers, as well as outside reps, project managers, auditors, and traveling nurses. And while many of these jobs typically don’t include hazardous environmental factors associated with heavy equipment, volatile chemicals, or downed wires, they can still be dangerous in certain circumstances, for example during a medical emergency or when an unexpected heated confrontation with others occurs. Understand the Risks and Responsibilities According to the International Data Corporation’s 2020 stats, frontline workers account for 57% of the total U.S. worker population. And that’s just in the United States. The numbers are much higher globally, hovering between 60%-70%, depending on the source. More surprising, IDC predicts only 49% of frontline workers are currently enabled with a mobile device. Not great numbers, given the rapid migration towards non-traditional workspaces. With these thoughts in mind and the fact that all employers have moral and legal responsibilities to provide for their workforce’s health and safety, it stands to reason organizations should have mechanisms in place to ensure offsite staff has access to emergency alert applications and intuitive communications technology. The same holds for operations centers. Operations coordinators and supervisors must be able to contact or ascertain an employee’s status not just for safety reasons, but also to relay additional information, updates, and reassignments. So what’s the solution? Simply put, hindsight, foresight, awareness, and action. Like most mission-critical situations, it’s essential to reflect on past incidents, present circumstances, likely or unlikely possibilities, and tactical and strategic options. So for lone worker environments, the information should be utilized to facilitate changes that can be made to streamline both day-to-day information flow and heighten safety and security. Commit to Practical and Proactive Approaches On the technology side, lone worker safety can be built-in into everyday tools, such as two-way radios, cellular devices, or even wearable personal alarms or cameras. Besides voice communications, technology integrations that include AVL components, geofencing, or sensor-based alarms can automatically detect changes in patterns or positions and relay that information back to central operations staff and management in real-time. Other options consist of interfaces that allow field and in-house personnel to connect or send text and voice alerts through mobile applications on company or personal devices. Likewise, if your organization is looking for a simplistic and discreet solution, one-touch pendant alarms, smart ID badges, and wristbands can be easily customized and configured to align with other workforce management solutions. Along with smart technology, awareness and engagement are your best means of preparation and defense. Although most organizations ensure their employee safety and security programs comply with government and industry regulations, enthusiastic and consistent attention to maintaining current best practices is key. Rather than viewing safety talks and annual trainings as check the box events, it’s imperative management and personnel collectively engage in constructive discussions, lively tabletop exercises, and realistic and reflective scenario-based drills. Without a doubt, positioning safety as a part of your everyday company culture can have a profound and powerful effect on your organization, your mission, and the customers and communities you serve. Right now is a great time to assess your organization’s commitment and approaches to prioritizing lone worker safety. And while you’re at it, why not share your thoughts, stories, or suggestions that may help others protect their lone workers as well. Your experiences and lessons learned could help protect and even save lives of others that are often on their own at work. Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!

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Comparing Project 25 and 3GPP MCPTT Capabilities - Zetron

Comparing Project 25 and 3GPP MCPTT Capabilities

Will Land Mobile Radio (LMR) ever go away? Will cellular Push-To-Talk (PTT) solutions, such as 3GPP Mission Critical PTT (MCPTT), replace LMR? Opinions vary, but one thing is certain, the LMR technology known as Project 25 (P25) is the standard against which public safety users in North America compare all alternative solutions. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the global cellular standards body, has used today’s LMR capabilities as the baseline requirements for its own MCPTT standards. In keeping with the 2012 Spectrum Act legislation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conveyed the USA’s requirements to 3GPP, which were well documented in a series of reports from the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC). In developing these reports, NPSTC heavily relied on the capabilities of P25. Whether today’s P25 users anticipate an eventual end to their LMR systems or not, many are planning or have begun augmenting their P25 systems with MCPTT because it’s now offered by multiple carriers in North America. To do so, it’s helpful to understand the key differences between P25 and MCPTT capabilities, which are outlined below. The capabilities referenced are those enabled by P25 standards developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), and MCPTT open standards as developed by 3GPP. The comparison is extremely useful if you plan to offload non-critical users from a P25 system to MCPTT, as you’ll want to know whether the features LMR users have been accustomed to will be supported on MCPTT. And if you have plans to interwork your P25 and MCPTT solutions for LMR/LTE interoperability, only capabilities that exist on both networks will be able to make that traversal. High Level Comparison Table 1: High Level Comparison Aspect TIA 102 P25 3GPP MCX NOTES Number of Groups supported Up to 65,534 Virtually unlimited Number of Users supported Up to 9,999,998 Virtually unlimited Number of Users per Group supported Up to 9,999,998 No technical limit. But the practical limit may be a few hundred on unicast networks (no limit on multicast eMBMS networks) Few multicast MCPTT networks currently exist Voice Calls Yes (AMBE+2 narrowband vocoder) Yes “MCPTT” (AMR-WB wideband vocoder with other vocoder options) MCPTT’s AMR-WB vocoder has noticeably better fidelity compared to P25 Simultaneous Media Streams One voice stream per SU/radio Multiple streams per UE/device MCPTT enables monitoring multiple groups at the same time Data Yes – Narrowband, Slow Speed (9600 bps) Yes – “MCDATA”. Broadband, High Speed Used for text/SDS, location, file transfer and mobile CAD Video Calls No Yes – “MCVIDEO” (Private & Group) Priority & Preemption Yes (trunking only) Yes Emergency Levels 2 (Normal, Emergency) 3 (Normal, Imminent Peril, and Emergency) Dynamic Prioritization No Yes Authorized users can remotely change the priority of designated MCPTT users/groups Power Levels Portables – typically 5 watts+ Mobiles – typically 50 watts+ User equipment (UE)/handsets – typically 0.2 watts High Power UE (HPUE) – up to 1.25 watts 3GPP Band 14 HPUE are now available, but generally not as handheld devices Off Network Communications Yes – “Direct Mode/Talk Around” (FDMA conventional) Yes – “ProSe” (Proximity Services – limited range due to low power level) 3GPP ProSe is not yet generally available Encryption Yes (optional) Yes Over the Air Programming (OTAP) Yes (optional) Yes Over the Air Rekeying (OTAR) Yes (optional) Yes   Detailed Comparison Table 2 below provides a more detailed comparison, including standard P25 capabilities and whether they translate to 3GPP MCPTT capabilities. The feature name used in this table is the common name for the P25 feature used in the TIA standards documents (specific P25 vendors may have different names for them). Where a different name for the equivalent feature is used for MCPTT, it is shown in quotation marks in the MCPTT column. Table 2: Detailed Comparison Project 25 Feature Name[1] TIA 102 P25 3GPP MCPTT Talker ID (aka PTT ID) Yes – numeric with optional text alias Yes – textual with optional supplemental info Groups Calls Yes – Confirmed or Unconfirmed Calls[2] Yes[3] – Chat or Pre-arranged[4], Pre-established or On-demand[5] Emergency Group & Individual Calls Yes Yes3 Emergency Alert (w/o voice) Yes Yes Emergency Cancel Yes Yes Individual Calls (aka, Unit-to-Unit Call) Yes – half or full duplex, with or without Availability Check[6]   Yes3 – “Private Call” (with or without Floor Control[7], Auto or Manual commencement[8], Pre-established or On-demand5) Discrete Listening (aka, Private Call Eavesdropping) Yes No Group Regrouping Yes (not yet available over ISSI/CSSI) Yes User Regrouping Yes Yes Radio Unit Monitor (RUM) Yes (timed only) Yes – “Ambient Listening” (On/Off, monitored audio may be sent as Private or Group) Call Alert Yes Yes – “Private Call Back Request” Dispatcher Override & Preemption Yes Yes Priority Yes (trunking only) Yes Preemption Yes (trunking only) Yes Announcement Group Call (to multiple groups) Yes Yes – “Broadcast Group Call” Broadcast Call (one way) Yes (trunking only) Yes – “Group Broadcast Call” System Call (aka, All Call) Yes Yes3 – “User Broadcast Group Call” Radio Inhibit (aka, Radio Disable) Yes Yes – “Remote Device Disable” Radio Un-inhibit (aka, Radio Enable) Yes Yes – “Remote Device Re-Enable” Radio Check Yes Yes “Presence” Text Messaging to Individuals Yes Yes – “Short Data Service – SDS” Location Conveyance from Field Radios to the Network Yes Yes Capabilities Unique to MCPTT Although P25 does have some advantages over MCPTT (e.g., off network operation and subscriber unit power levels), 3GPP MCPTT has a number of capabilities not found in open standard P25 systems, such as those shown in Table 3below. Table 3: Unique MCPTT Capabilities 3GPP MCX Feature Name Feature Description Imminent Peril Group Call A group call with priority between normal and emergency (chat type only4). First-To-Answer Private Call Invitation A private call invitation sent to a group of users. The first to answer enters into a 1-to-1 private call with the initiator. Adhoc Group Creation The ability for authorized users (typically dispatchers) to dynamically create a new group (3GPP may be rescinding this capability for security reasons). User Group Query The ability to remotely discover the group affiliation of a specific user. Remote User Group Invitation/ Assignment (aka, “REGA”) The ability for authorized users (typically dispatchers) to remotely invite or assign a user to affiliate with a specific group. Priority Dynamic Uplift/Downgrade The ability for an authorized user (typically a dispatcher) to dynamically change the priority of an individual user or group. Remote User/UE Call Initiation/Termination The ability for an authorized user (typically a dispatcher) to remotely initiate or terminate a private or group call of another user/group. Broadcast Group Calls (two way) A two-way broadcast group call. This may be with pre-established or on-demand establishment5. SDS Text Messaging to Groups Sending text messages to a group (including broadcasts to multiple groups). SDS Text Message Delivery Confirmation Confirmation that a private text message has been delivered to the destination device. SDS Text Message Read Notification Confirmation that a private text message has been read by the targeted user. MCData File Distribution The ability to attach files (e.g., audio clips, video clips, location coordinates) to private and group text messages, with or without mandatory download. Location Conveyed with Voice/Text Media The ability to convey the originator’s location along with the originator’s media (voice/text/video). Location Conveyance from/to Field Radios The ability to convey the originator’s location to other users, including dispatch consoles. What Capabilities Can Your Providers Support? Note that few manufacturers implement all the capabilities supported by the standards. In addition, few system owners (including cellular network operators) enable all the capabilities offered by the manufacturers. Some manufacturers choose to achieve comparable capabilities, using non-standard, proprietary methods, while others choose to implement capabilities not supported by the standards (which of course are also proprietary). Therefore this capability survey may not reflect what is actually supported by your P25 LMR system or your MCPTT cellular provider. But at the very least, the comparison can serve as a starting point for discussion with your LMR and MCPTT suppliers to see what they can actually support, and when they will be able to support it. Footnotes 1For a definition of the P25 features see the DHS Statement of Project 25 User Needs (SPUN): 2P25 Group Call Confirmation: Confirmed vs Unconfirmed: A confirmed call or data transfer attempts to secure RFSSs, sites, and users before starting the transmission. An unconfirmed call or data transfer makes no particular effort to guarantee the participation of particular RFSSs, sites, or users. 3These MCPTT capabilities are also available in 3GPP ProSe (off-network mode). 4 MCPTT Group Call Type – Pre-arranged vs Chat: Group Call types can either be pre-arranged or chat. When a pre-arranged Group Call is initiated by one of the group members, all other preconfigured/affiliated group members are automatically invited to the call. Designated users in the group can enter or exit the call for the duration of the group call. When a Chat Group Call is initiated, all group members are not automatically invited to the call. To participate in a Chat Group Call, a group member has to explicitly join the

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Confronting Challenges Faced by US Volunteer Fire Organizations

Confronting the Dual Challenges Faced by US Volunteer Fire Organizations

Did you know most active-duty firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers? In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) estimates that 87% of the 106,390,000 firefighters registered with the organization are volunteers. Similarly, the USFA asserts 86% of the nation’s fire departments either fully or partially depend on members who donate their time and expertise to helping others survive fires and other emergencies. What this means is volunteer fire service is vital to society. These departments and their members provide our communities assistance during emergencies and disasters. They come to our aid during times of distress, engage us during outreach events, and encourage even our youngest students to stay proactive and prepared during times of crisis. However, running a volunteer fire department is far from nonstop action and exhilaration. Those in charge must abide by countless and ever-changing regulatory standards involving both the department’s business and operational processes. Further still, keeping up with rising equipment costs, local challenges, and member and community needs can strangle a volunteer fire department’s finances and stifle its growth potential. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at two of the largest obstacles facing today’s volunteer fire organizations. Dismal Recruiting and Retention Rates Enlisting and keeping members active is, without a doubt, the most pressing problem. The number of volunteers who are actively being recruited into the fire service is far smaller than the amount leaving or aging out. One probable cause could be a societal shift in work/life priorities. Because of the health and safety aspects associated with firefighting, membership requirements can be daunting. Besides meetings, drills, fundraisers, and training sessions, members must also respond to actual emergencies. Likewise, considering the NFPA’s 2018 findings that 50% of all firefighters are between 30-49 years old, it’s easy to see how many would-be volunteers do not have the time or capacity to devote to these activities in addition to their family life and work schedule. Furthermore, firefighting is a dangerous business. There are those who are hesitant to take the chance that an injury or worse will prevent them from caring for or supporting their loved ones. Member retention is another problem. Although there are countless reasons members choose to resign, these occurrences are often predictable and preventable. However, some organizations consciously decide to wait until people leave before attempting to analyze and address what went wrong and, more importantly, how to fix it. Despite the industry resources available, many volunteer fire departments employ retention practices that revolve around reactionary discussions rather than preemptive solutions. In truth, if department leaders wish to engage both current and prospective members, they must be willing to apply the principles of situational awareness and strategic foresight to the internal issues inside their organizations. Disappearing Budgets and Funding Opportunities Operating a volunteer fire department is expensive. Like most industries, every year, the cost of doing business goes up while operating budgets tend to fall or hover at the previous year’s rates. For this reason, balancing industry and economic changes without compromising safety or effectiveness can be next to impossible. Similarly, because of blurry organizational structures and municipal constraints, volunteer fire departments can be at a direct disadvantage when attempting to secure the mission critical equipment and administrative support programs necessary to stay effective and efficient. For example, even though upgraded or innovative fire station alerting technology can promote better overall safety and performance, these solutions tend to carry high price tags or expensive add-on plans. And although most vendors are willing to work with departments for a customized fit, this subsequent blending of old and new technology can create even bigger issues with regards to maintenance and installation costs if not properly planned and orchestrated. Moreover, while a plethora of external funding and grant programs exist, bureaucratic roadblocks, contradictory use clauses, and numerous process inefficiencies at all levels often leave departments with the greatest need struggling for support. Worse still, because of the varying standards and ambiguous stipulations usually attached to these programs, department officials may have a tough time navigating the grant process successfully or achieving any real results without incurring additional costs for specialized guidance or assistance. Looking Ahead The dual challenges posed by changing societal norms and shifting fiscal priorities mean volunteer fire organizations must maintain awareness over where their agency is, where it’s going and what it needs to get there. Although volunteer fire agencies may function as mission-driven organizations, they must also employ business management processes to assess their organizations’ future. For this reason, fact-based operational insight and strategic thinking will play vital roles in steering and stabilizing the trajectory of our nation’s volunteer fire departments throughout the next decade. By: John Martyn Want to know about new posts? 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Tech Talk Vlog – Integrating Mission Critical Push-to-Talk with Emergency Communications Centers, Part 2

Answers to Six More Questions about Integrating Mission Critical Push-to-Talk with Emergency Communications Centers In part 2 of Zetron’s video Tech Talk mini- series, we provide answers to six more questions on integrating Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) with Emergency Communications Centers; delivered by MCPTT subject matter expert, Randy Richmond. So, if you enjoyed part one, or are curious about the technical aspects of MCPTT and ECC integration, costs associated with integration, or when you can start integrating MCPTT with your ECC, view the full vlog where you’ll learn more about: 1. Which MCPTT interfaces can I use to integrate my ECC? 2. What about IP backhaul to my carrier? 3. Are there solutions if I need to connect to multiple carriers? 4. What are the costs for integration? 5. When can I start integrating MCPTT with my ECC? 6. Where can I learn more about MCPTT integration issues? Enjoy the second part of our mini vlog series and check out part one if you haven’t yet for more answers to important questions around MCPTT integration with ECCs. By: Randy Richmond Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!

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Extending the REACH of Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch

The Emergency Communications Center Landscape Has Changed In my last post, “5 Ways COVID-19 is Reshaping Emergency Communications Centers,” I introduced a new Zetron white paper outlining some of the major operational shifts we’re seeing in the wake of a global pandemic that’s gone on longer and has had deeper and wider impacts than any of us could’ve ever imagined when it began. While there have certainly been others, the white paper focuses on five specific changes, each having substantial short and long term logistical and operational impacts to the public safety professionals working in ECCs: • More Enduring Remote Working Requirements • Renewed Calls for Alternative Funding • Increasing Demand for Partnerships • Shifting Role Focus Towards Mission Intelligence • Heightened Emphasis on Health and Safety In this post, I’ll focus particularly on the need for easier and more enduring remote working capabilities, and touch briefly on how Zetron has responded to the new demand, extending the REACH of emergency call taking and dispatch. The Need is Neither New or Fleeting For many of those who are responsible for making sure every emergency call is handled and appropriate services are dispatched as needed, no matter what personal, public health, political or civic/social unrest may be occurring, the need to work at times from outside the main center is not necessarily a new development. Many agencies regularly light up positions from back-up centers or even other public facilities on a temporary, emergency or ad hoc basis for a variety of reasons, such as when system/equipment upgrades are needed at the main center, facility transitions or moves occur, emergencies impact the main center’s availability or capabilities, and more. So while the need to “go remote” isn’t new, the parameters of scale, scope, and terms for remote working requirements have inarguably been redefined in the wake of COVID-19. And given what we know now, there’s ample reason to believe that many of these new requirements will remain in place long after COVID-19 is eradicated. New Reasons and Urgency Over the past year we’ve talked to countless customers in ECCs, transportation, utilities, and other critical communications centers who’ve had to adapt to the “new normals” that are directly or indirectly contributing to team members needing to more prominently and/or permanently work from remote locations. And by remote, I mean way more “remote” and dispersed than simply being temporarily set up in a back-up center. While they each seem fairly obvious on their own, collectively the factors prompting new work time and location flexibilities for communications centers have compounded the need. Physical Distancing A term previously used liberally only by those that are uber-protective of their personal space, may now very well be one of the most frequently uttered phrases on earth. Eliminating crowds in restaurants, ball parks, shopping centers, etc., happened quickly. But taking steps to similarly vacate emergency communications centers, where working spaces are often small and cramped with people pulling long shifts and in much closer proximity than six feet from their peers, obviously presented far different challenges. Quarantining Pick a reason. Not feeling well, exposed to someone not feeling well, traveled to someplace with lots of people not feeling well, or even a positive test in the household…directed- or self-quarantining is yet another new reality. Think people were sensitive about “stay home if you’re sick” policies in 2019? We hadn’t seen anything yet. But while a quarantine means temporarily not working in the center, it doesn’t mean someone isn’t capable of working for the center. In fact, most who aren’t actually sick are still more than able and need or want to work during quarantine. It simply can’t be while sitting next to their peers. Dependent Care Oh yeah, what if a child needs to quarantine, or attend school remotely? Talk about new realities. Covering dependent care during shifts by way of sick days or paid child care isn’t always an option, especially for extended stints. But while parents or caregivers may need to be home “in proximity” to keep things on the rails, they’re often perfectly capable of marrying that typically intermittent responsibility with also having a productive work shift, as long as they have access to the means (i.e., connections, equipment, systems, etc.) to do so from home. Absence/On Call Management Perhaps the most obvious factor is that many people have gotten sick of course, leaving them temporarily unable to work from any location, even if they wanted to. This has taxed and stretched many teams to exhausting new limits for managing overtime, extra shifts, and ability to make personnel more “on call” ready. All of which have put additional strain on the conventional centralized workplace model. New Sanitation Standards Maintaining back-to-back shifts in shared workstations has been an established practice in ECCs, but new cleaning and disinfecting standards add time, costs and headaches in order to keep people safe. This is especially true in shared work environments and creates yet another motivation for seeking unconventional full and/or part time remote working scenarios. Remote Work Within REACH of Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch Ok, we get it, the need to enable remote work in ECCs, while not entirely new, has certainly reached new highs in terms of rationale and urgency. And it’s not likely to fade in parallel to the degree we all hope to see COVID-19 dissipate. That’s why at Zetron, we were quick to identify the trends and subsequent need for critical communications centers (including ECCs) to adopt more malleable and enduring approaches to remote working during the pandemic. Enter REACH Solutions REACH is a bit unique to typical Zetron new solution introductions, simply because it’s not actually a “product” in our traditional sense. Rather, REACH is a technical solution that enables our existing Call Taking and Dispatch solutions to more easily be applied in remote working models. It’s intended to break down many of the legacy technical and logistical barriers and headaches to letting team members quickly and easily pack up and take home a workstation that’s fully operational and connected to the same systems being used for managing calls and dispatch in the center. If you’d like more detailed information about our REACH Solutions for emergency call taking and dispatch, I encourage you to download the information sheet or visit the product page. By: Jim Shulkin Subscribe today to receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-Wire blog!

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Balancing the Challenges and Rewards of Being a First Responder

Choosing to become a first responder may feel like the easiest decision you’ve ever made. Especially if you want a rewarding career that enables you to help others, forge lifelong bonds, and never stop learning. But committing to a life of service also means accepting there will indelibly be professional setbacks and personal challenges along the way. In addition to conceding that copious amounts of financial fortune and fame are highly unlikely outcomes of your pursuits, you also have to know you’re signing up for a roller coaster of constant twists, turns, dips, and drops that will require more courage than you ever thought possible, rather than the romanticized heroics and perpetual gratitude you see on the television dramatizations of the profession. It’s more a relentless and unending test of fortitude and perseverance through countless rough patches to remain strong enough to make it out on the other side, recharged, and ready to go back for more. Ask anyone whose chosen this path. It’s a long way removed from full-time rainbows and lollipops, but then again, it’s not all doom and gloom either. Most days, for people that choose the path, the rewards do actually outweigh the challenges. But sometimes they don’t. Even so, most agree that regardless of what’s thrown at them, they wouldn’t have it any other way. Because when all is said and done, there is still no better feeling in the world than closing your eyes at night, knowing your actions – even if in just a small way – made a real difference in someone’s life…maybe even saving it. So with that, let’s dedicate this post to recognizing the real-world struggles first responders face both on and off duty. Here’s a high-level rundown of the good, the bad, and the gray areas in between. First things first, let’s take on the three biggest challenges Physical Risks Like many service professionals, first responders gamble their own health and safety to perform their jobs. While risk levels vary depending on the role, the number of injuries and physical ailments this community faces are staggering. While firefighters and police officers clearly encounter the highest physical risks, emergency medical providers, and 911 professionals confront equally challenging and unique obstacles that impact their physical health and safety. Although emergency workers are highly trained and proficient in their skills, accidents and oversights can and do happen. From strains and sprains to a heightened risk of heart problems and disease, emergency workers must work daily to overcome obstacles that threaten their lives and futures. Because of this, these groups must remain vigilant in keeping up with annual check-ups, fitness routines, and wellness regimens. Social Struggles Yes, nearly all jobs are stressful to some degree, but emergency services are inarguably unique to most. Carrying the weight of thought isolation, missed social connections, and lost time with family, along with the psychological demands of the job, can crush even the strongest souls. Even worse, there’s no doubt this career can be tough on personal relationships. Besides having to justify frequent absences, it’s often difficult for responders to explain to family and friends why they seem restless, lack patience, or appear distant, disinterested, or disengaged from everyday events. That’s why emergency responders need to surround themselves with people who genuinely care and support them – both on and off the job. While those on the outside may never completely understand or be able to fully relate to the struggles, anyone with close connections should be willing to accept and embrace the inherent and sometimes extreme ups and downs. Psychological Tolls Aside from maintaining a constant level of high alert, first responders must be able to think outside the box and switch gears within a moment’s notice. And all while operating on tight timelines and sticking to a strict set of rules and procedures. Making the best decision with the information they have and not allowing second thoughts to hinder the speed and effectiveness of action can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Especially when you stop to consider the outcome can mean the difference between happiness or despair, pain or relief, even life or death. Even worse, there are obviously limits to what responders can actually control, with the universe of factors they can’t being much larger. Understanding the difference between acceptance and guilt is a difficult skill to master, no matter how many years you’ve been in the game. Moving on, let’s spotlight some of the benefits that make being a first responder a worthwhile and rewarding career. Self Fulfillment Personal pride and the sense of accomplishment from helping others is in itself the ultimate reward. Knowing they were there to support someone during what might be the worst moment in their life can have a powerful effect on a first responder’s sense of self-worth. While not every alarm is an emergency, and not every call will end successfully, every shift represents a unique opportunity for growth and a chance to make a real difference. Similarly, first responders report personal satisfaction in the sense of having the knowledge and know-how to remain calm, successfully communicate, and lead others through difficult situations. While not all first responders will be experts in every scenario, these fundamental skills will often be celebrated and appreciated in all aspects of life. Countless Opportunities Lifelong friendships and professional networking opportunities are some of the priceless perks afforded to first responders. Aside from forging close and enduring bonds with crew members who more closely resemble family, first responders benefit from working with a diverse group of people, each with varying ideas, skillsets, and problem-solving approaches. Because of these connections, first responders are often more capable of seeing outside their own experiences and empathizing with others. Even further, first responders can serve as a vital link between community members and emergency service officials during a crisis or disaster. Likewise, access to the latest training and industry conferences also leaves room for constant growth. Besides being necessary to retain certification, these informative and enriching activities represent regular opportunities to socialize with and learn from well-respected peers and mentors. Job Stability Forging friendships and being proud of what you do are intrinsically important, but these purpose-driven rewards don’t actually pay the bills or alleviate retirement concerns. That said, there are few careers outside public service that offer the same iron-clad benefit packages and employment assurances as those provided to emergency responders. No, the annual wages generally aren’t overly generous, and the overtime hours can be grueling, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For starters, first responders’ health and dental insurance benefits are often top-notch. Equally important, working for a public service agency usually means having access to a multitude of investment, educational, and retirement options. But perhaps the most attractive aspect comes from longstanding job stability. Aside from the fact that as long as emergencies exist, first responders will always be necessary, there are typically protections in place to deter mass layoffs and baseless terminations. We’ve all heard the expression that government is “recession-proof,” which although naively simplified, does point to the stability difference, relative to many roles of their commercial counterparts. Further still, if emergency responders choose to switch careers, the transferrable skills they’ve acquired through their day-to-day interactions will be both valued and respected in virtually every workplace or industry. To sum it up, like most jobs, responders must weigh the good with the bad and find a balance they can live with. While the drawbacks may seem overwhelming at times, there are countless advantages to being a first responder. In the end, it’s all a matter of priorities, perspective, and make-up. Have other thoughts about the challenges and rewards of being a public safety pro? We’d love to hear them. Tell us what you think! Comments are always invited on Z-Wire. Or click here if you’re interested in submitting a guest blog post of your own. Subscribe today to receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-Wire blog!

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Commemorating 40 Years of Service in Mission Critical Communications

Setting the Stage Imagine working in critical communications back when telephone analyzers, miniature tape recorders, and metal detectors were considered cutting edge technology. No smartphones, no digital maps, no video surveillance, just in-the-moment awareness and basic message sent/received capabilities. Given how much communications technology has advanced, it feels like I could be describing the way things were a century ago, doesn’t it? But in fact, that was the marketplace when Milt Zeutschel and John Reece entered it back in 1980 when they leased a small office space in between a hair salon and Christian Reading Room in a quiet Seattle suburb strip mall. While their initial charter was relatively humble – to provide better paging systems than what was currently available to volunteer fire departments so they could communicate more effectively – their ambitions were spectacular. They called their new venture Zetron. Fast forward forty years and the mission critical communications landscape has transformed into a truly innovative global industry, and that small regional business next to the hair salon now maintains a robust portfolio of leading communications solutions that serve mission critical operations in more than 100 countries around the world. And yet, in the three decades I’ve been privileged to be a part of the Zetron team, I can confidently say the core mission, vision and values of Zetron have remained literally unchanged. As true today as it was in 1980, Zetron’s primary and unwavering mission is to serve and support organizations and individuals in public safety, transportation, utilities, and other markets where efficient communications are not only important, but are truly the lifeblood of successful mission critical operations. And we do that by putting uncompromising quality, reliability and customer service in and around the communications solutions and services we provide. It was our focus from day one, and will continue to be our one and only job going forward. A Look Back It’s intriguing to revisit all the communications industry has accomplished in the past 40 years. We’ve witnessed the successful fusion of technology and human intelligence, with numerous pioneering solutions and services along the way. While Zetron’s beginnings in volunteer fire department paging systems may seem simple now, it set the stage for what would become an enduring legacy of innovation. Six years into business, Zetron debuted the industry’s first user-programmable microprocessor-based radio dispatch console. Then, in 1996, we began manufacturing both call taking and radio dispatch solutions – a first in the public safety realm. Since then, we’ve continued to push the boundaries and set higher standards, expanding global offerings, earning ISO certification, and developing integrations and solutions to current and emerging standards, such as P25 and FirstNet. And that really just scratches the surface. Although Zetron has obviously grown, we’ve worked hard to maintain our family business feel because I believe it helps keep us grounded and centered on our purpose. Regardless of where in the world our people call home, our collective mission remains constant – to serve the devoted, courageous, and too often thankless communications organizations and professionals who make it their mission to put the safety and welfare of the communities they serve first. In fact, that’s what I love most about our company culture still today. We listen more than we talk. We meet our customers where they are. And we forge lasting, often multi-decade relationships based on ethics, understanding, and mutual benefit, versus transactions or sales targets. The Heart of Our Success In an era where most businesses don’t last four years, much less 40, the key to our longevity is quite simple actually. It’s based on the sincere understanding that our success is in fact tethered to the long term viability and success of our customers, partners, and employees. When you treat each with the same honesty, respect and loyalty you would your family, it fosters long term trust and relationships, which are of course the most important assets any business can possess, be it 1980 or 2021. We’re fortunate to maintain as many multi-generational customer, partner, and employee relationships as we do, especially in an era when alternatives are plenty and retention tends to be measured more in months than decades. Together we’ve evolved. Through collaboration and shared visions for the future we’ve accomplished extraordinary triumphs and milestones, while overcoming major challenges and setbacks. And despite the challenging times the world faces today, tomorrow will be brighter as a result of our collective commitment to staying true to our values, pressing forward, and understanding that together, we can accomplish or endure anything. The Next Forty Years As we look forward, we are committed to leveraging the incredible momentum we have as a company, community, and family, to reach new heights. It won’t take nearly forty more years until we’re able to say, “Doesn’t 2020 seem like it could’ve been a century ago?” Through our mutually beneficial relationships and community rooted values, we look forward to enhancing our offerings, expanding our worldwide presence, and setting the bar even higher for mission critical communications technology and services everywhere. On behalf of all of us at Zetron, thank you to all who have been a part of our durability and success over the years. You’ve inspired us and impacted our lives here at home and around the globe. We are grateful and humbled at the opportunity to work with such amazing people every single day. And as we move forward into 2021 and beyond, we pledge to continue serving you with respect, devotion, and integrity, just as Milt and John originally envisioned 40 years ago. We are Zetron. #Zetron40 By: Brent Dippie We’d also like to thank the Puget Sound Business Journal for the recent interview and article acknowledging this major milestone. If you’re interested, you can read the interview here. Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!

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