Success Stories

Indianapolis Fire Department Stabilizes Network Connectivity & Takes Management to the Cloud

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CASE STUDY INDIANAPOLIS FIRE DEPARTMENT ©Cradlepoint. All Rights Reserved. | +1.855.813.3385 | 2 Background With an overall metro area population of more than 2 million, Indianapolis is the largest city in Indiana — and the 12th largest city in the U.S. The Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) has more than 1,200 fire personnel, 300 of whom are on duty at any given time, and protects 278 square miles of territory. The department, which features a fleet of 43 fire engines and 22 ladders, began utilizing in-vehicle data terminals in the 1990s before transitioning to laptops in 2005. Department Needs When IFD implemented computer terminals in its fire trucks nearly two decades ago, radio modems were the only option for connectivity. The department used this setup until about 2005, when it shifted to a system utilizing five receiving towers strategically located around the county's perimeter. The problem IFD encountered was inconsistent signal strength, especially during the summer months, when tree foliage is more likely to affect coverage. In 2012, with the radio modem network set to expire, the city determined cellular connectivity was the best option. IFD began using USB-based air cards to keep its laptops and other in-vehicle applications connected on the go. Fire personnel noticed improved network access with the air cards, but not to the level needed during emergency situations. Often simply driving over a bump in the road would knock the connection loose. The IT team made valiant efforts at makeshift fixes such as electrical tape and extension cables, but they recognized that IFD needed a long-term, ruggedized solution that would support an external antenna. Additionally, IFD required the ability to push out firmware upgrades from a central location. Such updates had been both cost and time prohibitive, so the IT team avoided them. "For one person managing the fleet, it became impossible to go out into the field and touch every device," said Battalion Chief Dale Rolfson, IT manager for the Indianapolis Fire Department. Solution The department tested multiple solutions before upgrading from air cards to Cradlepoint NetCloud Service for mobile with routing, a WiFi access point, GPS and telematics integration, WiFi-as-WAN, and cloud configuration and troubleshooting, all delivered via an in-vehicle LTE router with 24x7 support and a limited lifetime warranty. IFD has installed Cradlepoint routers in fire vehicles — with resoundingly positive results. IFD will install 63 additional routers to outfit the fleet. Rolfson noted that firefighters need solutions that "just work," plain and simple — and Cradlepoint delivers. Additionally, through NCM, the department's IT team has revolutionized the way it monitors, manages, and troubleshoots its network in fleet vehicles. The Cradlepoints have offered us a stability we've never had." Battalion Chief Dale Rolfson IT Manager, Indianapolis Fire Dept.

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