Today, most Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) agencies in EC member states are relying on digital Private Mobile Radio (PMR) networks for mission-critical voice and data communication. These PMR networks are highly resilient and properly dimensioned to cope with crisis and emergency handling, and are well protected against monitoring and intrusion by means of encryption, authentication and integrity. The two main standards for digital PMR networks in Europe are TETRA (TErrestrial Trunked RAdio) and TETRAPOL.

The majority of these networks are based on mature technology, requiring old-fashion synchronous links (backbone), and using proprietary hardware solutions that are subject to component obsolescence. The closeness nature of these networks also results in challenges regarding interoperability between networks, either inside the country or to aid cross-border operations and posing obstacles to support future emergency applications and services.

PPDR users are also increasingly using cellular phones and modems for applications while on the road and at the scene. For business-as-usual scenarios, this is mostly not a problem, while the service grade is identical to what any other user of the cellular network experiences. While Internet browsing, emailing and even video streaming is standard practice on today’s 3G networks, sophisticated applications may be deployed on basis of commercial cellular services. However, when accidents occur, communication is required. During an event (like football match or concert), or disasters happen, these commercial networks will usually be fully loaded or not available at all due to the low level of resilience and lack of dedicated capacity for PPDR users.

Next generation communication networks for PPDR are required to cope with legacy / obsolescence issues, interoperability challenges and requirements for robust and reliable broadband data. The proposed SALUS project covers the full techno-economic scope regarding development and deployment of these next generation PPDR networks by focusing on integration with and migration to 4G wireless communication networks. Technology options will be considered for different scenarios for management, deployment and operation, and a number of technical aspects, such as QoS, resilience, inter-systems handover, security and privacy support, are thoroughly investigated to solve issues of interoperability with legacy TETRA / TETRAPOL networks, security and scalability of future networks. Economic aspects will be addressed to determine the business case for users, operators and industry. Finally, a number of specific challenges are addressed, ranging from spectrum availability to body area networks for in-field staff operations support.

The main goal of SALUS is to design, implement and evaluate a next generation communication network for Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) agencies, supported by network operators and industry, which will provide security, privacy, seamless mobility, QoS and reliability support for mission-critical PMR voice and broadband data services.