WAIS = “Wide Area Interoperability System.” This acronym accurately describes what this flexible and scalable solution does, tying together voice communications via IP over a range of geographical areas, citywide, statewide or throughout even larger regions. WAIS provides the ability to expand radio propagation through our proven Radio over IP technologies, BSI compliant SIP connections, and by cross banding radio channels.
WAIS allows you to parlay the varied infrastructures of Land Mobile Radio, cellular, telephone and other communications systems. When those assets are deployed in fixed, mobile, transportable and tactical ACU sites and linked through IP infrastructure, the resulting Wide Area Interoperability System provides a scalable system, robust and redundant to overcome problematic networks.
WAIS is made up of multiple local interoperability systems, each based on a JPS radio interoperability gateway, such as an ACU-1000, ACU-2000IP, ACU-5000, ACU-T or ACU-M. These local systems tie together local communications systems on demand. They can function autonomously if so desired, but can also be linked to each other via the WAIS Controller software.
During Hurricane Sandy, personnel deployed to New York City (NYC) by state government officials found themselves outside the coverage area of the Albany radio system. The NYC WAIS system used RoIP links between the EOC in Albany and onsite radio channels to maintain vital direct communications with their people.
Other WAIS configurations have been used to:
Major users of WAIS for mission critical operations include: the National Guard Joint Incident Site Communications Capability (JISCC); statewide systems in Alabama, North Carolina, California and Maryland; and numerous U.S. and international regional systems.
To meet varying customer requirements, JPS now offers three versions of the WAIS Controller software. Quick descriptions follow; more details are provided later in this article.
WAIS Classic: Same feature set as the original product, and as described on the previous page.
WAIS Enhanced: Uses new DSP-3 module and Dispatch View to allow an operator to communicate with a radio in the system via the sound card of the PC that’s hosting the WAIS Controller software. The operator can also choose to simply monitor the radio, or may expand the dispatch communications to include any interoperability net that the radio may be part of.
WAIS Enterprise: Builds on WAIS Enhanced with a new application called the MultiTap Server, which resides on a PC at the local interoperability site. This application allows the audio from any particular radio to be heard simultaneously by multiple operators.
JPS prides itself on not leaving its existing customers behind — by not requiring forklift upgrades and by maintaining backwards compatibility whenever possible. This holds true for the revised WAIS Controller — the new versions are available as upgrades to existing systems. Other improvements that increase the system’s robust reactions to common network problems are available in all versions.
The major benefit of WAIS Enhanced is a new ability of WAIS Controller operators to communicate directly with system radios, using the sound cards of their PCs. This economical and scalable approach allows full operation from remote locations in the event of a site evacuation.
Alabama used WAIS Enhanced to upgrade its wireline-connected Statewide UHF repeaters to a new IP infrastructure using RoIP audio links. The system provides direct dispatch capability to any of Alabama’s 23 repeater sites, with the ability to link any of those sites to other WAIS sites throughout the state when needed.
Two critical components of WAIS Enhanced are the addition of the Dispatch View on the WAIS Controller and a new ACU plug-in interface module called the DSP-3.
The DSP-3 dispatch modules function identically to the standard DSP-2 modules that are used to interface radios or other four-wire devices to an ACU gateway, with one new feature — they can also simultaneously stream audio between the associated radio and a WAIS operator.
The Dispatch View gives each operator the ability to control and view the status of the new function.
Connections can be “monitor only” or set to also send TX audio to the radio (hence the term “Dispatch View”). Operators can choose to communicate solely with the radio associated with the selected DSP-3 module, or, if that radio is currently part an interoperability net, the operator can include audio from all the radios and other sources in that net.
Multiple WAIS Controller operators can control all or parts of an interoperability system. As with other WAIS Controller functions, each operator can customize how their own Display View appears, including which “dispatch-capable” communications assets are currently visible. All operators can always see the current status of the overall system. Again in keeping with the program’s basic philosophy, the dispatch functions are permissions-based, allowing the system administrator to limit which operators have the ability to dispatch to the various DSP-3 modules/radios.
Each operator can simultaneously monitor multiple radios. The practical limitation is most likely to be the number of audio streams the operator can handle at one time, rather than system limitations, such as Bandwidth and PC capability. The WAIS Controller itself imposes a limit of 24 simultaneous audio streams.
The new WAIS Enterprise version overcomes a limitation of the new dispatch functionality of WAIS Enhanced. That is, the DSP‑3 module is capable of only one audio stream, and, therefore, only one operator will be able to monitor any individual DSP-3/radio at a time. WAIS Enterprise improves upon WAIS Enhanced by providing a means for many operators to simultaneously receive audio from any particular radio. It uses a PC application called MultiTap that takes in the single audio stream from each DSP-3 module and replicates it for use by multiple operators. The PC (or server) that hosts the MultiTap application is called the MultiTap Server.
The factors most likely to limit MultiTap fan out capacity are network bandwidth and the capacity of the PC running the MultiTap application. The system is designed to resolve the latter factor by allowing the use of multiple MultiTap servers.
WAIS Enterprise is critical for applications where multiple operators need to simultaneously monitor the same radio or set of radios. These include: allowing overlap during operator shift changes or if an operator is otherwise occupied; allowing simultaneous monitor of the same assets from different locations; and having multiple operators paying attention at the same time as a simple safety factor.
Public Safety communications are important — but even more vital during emergency incidents. Unfortunately, this is just when many communications links become taxed, whether due to infrastructure damage or high traffic volume. IP networks are a prime example.
Much effort has gone into the overall design and basic feature set of the WAIS Controller to make it as robust as possible — able to withstand imperfect network conditions and re-establish links following an outage. The new version takes this concept even further.
The WAIS basic design relies on a distributed architecture — the failure of any component does not affect the continued operation of all other components, with no single-point-of-failure. The use of the MultiTap server to provide the benefits of WAIS Enterprise seems a short step back from this totally distributed approach, but includes a Failover function that kicks in if a MultiTap server application becomes non-operational for any reason. If a WAIS Controller can’t reach a DSP-3 module via the MultiTap Server (for example, if the server’s power is cut off), the WAIS Controller will establish a direct link to the module. This brings the affected part of the system into operation identical to WAIS Enhanced. When the MultiTap Server is back online, the WAIS Controllers will automatically renew their connections to it and restore full WAIS Enterprise operation.
For more information regarding the JPS Interoperability Solutions’ WAIS Controller software, or how we can assist with Wide Area Interoperability, please email our Sales Team