Magazine article National Defense

Fee-for-Service Model Lowers Upfront Costs

Magazine article National Defense

Fee-for-Service Model Lowers Upfront Costs

Article excerpt

Instead of buying an expensive system with many more features than wanted or needed, it may be possible simply to pay for the service and get only the data required to accomplish the mission.

Examples of this business model are found in the maritime security area. Take vessel tracking service radar and law enforcement surveillance radar. Both may be watching the same critical waterway, but one is interested in the safe navigation of larger vessels, while the other may be interested in the unknown "small, dark targets."

In a fee-for-service system, the same radars could provide data as desired to different customers simultaneously. Data can be priced to provide only the information required. The acquisition cost of the system, maintenance and any repairs, and site upkeep becomes the responsibility of the service provider, who has every incentive to ensure the radar is well cared for and maintained to factory specs. If the system goes down, the customers don't pay.

Some agencies have used federal port security grants to pay for new systems, but the purchase price usually doesn't include long-term maintenance or support. If the agency selects a less-than-optimal system, or when the system becomes obsolete, they're stuck with it.

Perhaps the strongest argument for fee-for-service radar data is the fact that one radar can provide customized data to multiple customers, so the provider can deliver more service for less cost. For example, a series of radars in an area like Puget Sound may have a Coast Guard vessel tracking customer that needs to monitor commercial shipping traffic, and law enforcement entities like Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, state and local authorities, and the Canadian government, who could share the cost of a higher resolution feed to detect and track suspicious vessels. The data feeds differ in the processing, but the basic radar signals can be the same.

Jim Moore, vice president for command control and sensors for Terma North America, says the company's solid-state radars are used for coastal surveillance, port and waterways management, airport surface movement, and perimeter security. All connect to a standard IP network, so they can connect with existing networks or displays.

A single sensor can support multiple operations such as an air picture and a marine picture at the same time, or a vessel traffic picture, optimized for large shipping traffic, while also providing a law enforcement picture for detection and tracking of small contacts.

"If we have multiple customers accessing the data, we can significantly dilute the cost for all of them, depending on how may customers we have," Moore says. …

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