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Member Spotlight: RF Solutions

Laura Keyes

Posted on July 15, 2020

For the July installment of the Safer Buildings Coalition Member Spotlight, RF Solutions co-founder Laura Keyes talks about the company, its approach to public safety and how RF Solutions and Safer Buildings Coalition can work together to further joint objectives.  

Q: RF Solutions has an interesting genesis. Tell us about the founding of your firm. 
A: Four years ago, along with my partners, Bill Share, and Ron Schachter, we launched RF Solutions in New York City. We were all seasoned professionals in the field of wireless communications systems, and we saw the growing demand for public safety communications would require a more in-depth understanding of RF and strict adherence to professional standards. Sadly, there was a lack of it in the NYC market, and with the new requirements from the FDNY to provide robust radio communications for first responders, we knew we had to take the lead on delivering these exacting standards.

Q: Describe RF Solutions’ approach to public safety. 
A: From Day One, we knew that we wanted to change the status quo. After all, lives are at stake if our communications systems don’t operate reliably. That is why, at RF Solutions, we brought together a group of respected wireless professionals. Today our team of engineers and technicians consists almost exclusively of iBwave-certified engineers that have years of experience with the technology.

In addition, the FDNY’s unique specifications meant no “off the shelf” equipment existed in the marketplace. Although a few companies were producing devices that met some of the published FDNY requirements, their offerings fell far short of our expectations for product design, reliability, and overall quality. An entirely new system would have to be custom-designed and built for this application. The resulting system would require expert engineering for proper operation as well as self-monitoring capabilities. We knew the only viable option was to design and produce ARCS equipment ourselves.

At RFS, we get involved at the earliest stages of a building’s lifecycle, often requested by the engineering or consulting firms working on the project. They look to us as subject matter experts in the field of wireless communications. We perform a complete building structure analysis to determine accurate radio frequency (RF) propagation. I am pleased to say that we have raised the bar for engineered designs because we’ve used iBwave propagation models since our inception.  

Q: Why did RF Solutions join the Safer Buildings Coalition?
A: Through its national platform, the Safer Buildings Coalition articulates why we do what we do.  Understanding what makes for a safer building helps ensure that together we can help to save lives – for the building occupants and for the first responders who bravely put their lives on the line. We are proud to be part of SBC and to promote their message.  

Q: How can RF solutions and SBC work together to further our joint objectives?
A: We are big believers in an educated consumer. We allocate significant resources to support that belief by publishing articles and hosting webinars to disseminate vital industry information to those that can benefit from it. We know that one of SBC’s central tenets is training and education. We look forward to collaborating with SBC, perhaps with their in-person or online training of wireless industry members. 

Q: What do you think is on the horizon for public safety communications? 
A: Currently, the NFPA dictates that 99% coverage is required in areas of “vital importance,” which are designated by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). In other areas, 90% coverage is required. In the near future, we hope to see the mandate for 99% coverage throughout every building or facility. With the growing national rollout of FirstNet, we should see modifications to public safety DAS to transition in-building support of the AT&T network from “consumer grade” to “first responder quality” coverage and reliability meeting the same standards as all other public safety DAS systems. Additionally, the expanding initiatives toward “smart” cities and integrated systems will lead to applications requiring greater bandwidth (speed) for public safety in-building wireless systems in both residential and commercial structures.

About RF Solutions

RF Solutions LLC (RFS) is a wireless consulting and solutions firm. We offer end-to-end efficient and cost-effective comprehensive systems that stay on top of the ever-changing mobile IT environment and life-safety requirements. Our best in class engineers and radio frequency specialists deploy leading-edge custom designed hardware and technology to deliver exceptional value and successful results for our clients. RFS has met the Fire Department of New York’s (FDNY) stringent standards for certification and is approved to operate, test, and maintain Auxiliary Radio Communication Systems (ARCS) in New York City.