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The Definitive IWCE Glossary of Terms

The IWCE Glossary of Terms Covers All The Terms You Need to Understand the Critical Communications Ecosystem

From 5G to network infrastructure to LTE, this page details all the terms you need to know to stay up-to-date in the critical communications community. Brush up on these key terms before this year's show.

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5G is the fifth generation of wireless network technology that offers lower latency, increased availability, improved reliability, and innovative new use cases that began wide development in 2019. Just this year, IWCE launched a track dedicated to covering topics around 5G technology. Learn more about 5G at IWCE 2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that is concerned with creating machines that can complete tasks that would typically require human intelligence. Advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning can affect virtually every sector in the tech industry.  

Broadband Push-to-Talk (PTT)

Broadband PTT is a means of communication commonly employed in wireless cellular phone services that use a button to switch from voice transmission to voice reception mode, similar to a "walkie talkie".

Critical Infrastructure

Critical Infrastructure includes the body of systems, networks, and assets that are so essential that their continued operation is required to ensure the security of a given nation, its economy, and the public's health and safety. Learn more about critical infrastructure at IWCE 2020.


 Also known as information technology security or electronic information security, the term cybersecurity refers to the practice of defending computers, services, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks and data from malicious attacks. Check out IWCE's track on cybersecurity.

Disaster Communications

Disaster communications refers to communication during and immediately after a disaster situation. It's an important component of response and recovery because it connects affected citizens and communities with first responders, support systems, and other family members. 


Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS) are autopiloted aircrafts or vehicles. While drones are used a variety of ways, government and public safety agencies are using drones to monitor natural disasters and survey areas of hard to reach land for search and rescue missions. Drones give these agencies a unique birds-eye-view that first responders can use to perform their roles more effectively and efficiently. IWCE is hosting live drone demonstrations at this year's show! Learn more here. 

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Edge Computing

Edge computing is a system for optimizing applications by pushing computing applications, data and services away from centralized nodes to the edge of a network, closer to the end-users. Edge computing model enables data to be accessed locally on touchpoints that are physically closer to the user. Instead of a single data center, data lives on multiple touchpoints, reducing the time it takes for the data to reach them.  

FirstNet Authority

Established in 2012 by Congress, FirstNet is an independent government authority with the mission to build and deploy the first-ever nationwide broadband network dedicated to first responders. With FirstNet first responders will have access to highly secure, reliable communications to help keep them safe. Director of FirstNet Authority, Edward Parkinson, will be speaking at IWCE on April 1. Learn more here.

In-Building Wireless

Also known as In-Building Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), in-building wireless enhances and distributes wireless connections inside office buildings or any large commercial space. DAS is able to amplify the existing cell signal to provide connectivity to all cellular devices within the building. Most DAS systems are designed and installed to fit the specifications of each building for the best connectivity. 

Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of connections between devices, appliances, and machinery via embedded computing devices that allow objects to interact, operate and receive and transmit data automatically. 


Interoperability refers to computer systems or software and their ability to exchange and make use of information in a coordinated manner. It compasses not only the ability to connect IT or systems engineering services but also the organizational factors that impact the system's ability to perform. 

Land Mobile Radio (LMR)

LMR is a two-way wireless communication network that can be private or public. These networks are commonly used by first responders like police, firefighters and emergency responders for critical communications, but can also be used for transportation, utilities, security. LMR systems consist of handheld portable radios, vehicle-mounted mobile radios and other network infrastructure. 

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Mission Critical Communications

Mission Critical Communications refers to the ability to deliver communication when conventional networks cannot meet the required demands.

Next Generation 911 (NG911)

Most 911 systems were originally created using analog rather than digital technologies, which means that public safety answering points (PSAPs) need to be upgraded to a digital or IP-based 911 system. The process of upgrading these systems is known as NG911. The implementation of NG911 will enhance emergency systems allowing for voice, photo, video and text messages to flow seamlessly from the public to the 911 network. IWCE's 911 & Emergency Communications track covers NG911 and much more. 

Public Safety

A public safety department is a state or local government agency in the U.S whose primary function is to protect the public, including fire and rescue services, ambulance and emergency medical services and police services. 

Safe City

Similar to Smart City, Safe City programs are created in order to use data and technology in ways that keep residents safe. Safe Cities focus on the application of networks & cloud, command and control, AI and Analytics, and Mobile devices & intelligent surveillance to reduce fatalities, minimize crime rates, and improve emergency response time.


Telecommunications refers to the process of exchanging information such as voice, data, and video transmissions over a distance by cable telegraph, telephone or broadcasting systems.