Just occasionally peeking at the spectrum will neither solve current problems nor avoid future problems nor provide the information mandatory for efficient and successful spectrum monitoring and spectrum management. To get the complete and correct picture, the spectrum has to be monitored continuously. Information is further enhanced if the continuous monitoring runs parallel at many different sites.
The most efficient way to do this is to use a fully automatic workflow.
All frequency bands of interest are scanned uninterruptedly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Obviously, for each band the correct device settings such as channel spacing and IF bandwidth have to be set. Fully ITU-compliant equipment performs these measurements in accordance with the respective ITU recommendations and national guidelines. The measurement setup including the device settings is documented. This way, the results are valid evidence when e.g. a license violation has to be proven in a court of law.
Many regulators perform these measurements as automatic background tasks. Whenever a device is not in use, predefined measurements are automatically initiated and run until a more important mission interrupts them. This way, the precious monitoring equipment is used to the greatest possible extent
Save the data
All results are stored either at the monitoring site or in the control station that initiated the task. Alternatively, the data from all stations can be transferred to a central database. The main advantage of such a central database is that results from different locations are easily combined, providing a much better picture of the real situation. In addition, maintenance and security backups are much more efficiently done in one single location.
The results compiled from continuous monitoring at multiple sites provide an excellent basis for in-depth analysis. Typical evaluations include various detailed occupancy statistics, noise floor determination, and the detection of violation of license constraints. Comparing results taken at the same time at various locations will clearly reveal information with high spatial resolution, e.g. showing an increase of background noise in certain parts of the city. Comparing results from similar measurements over a longer period of time will clearly reveal trends and developments. Depending on individual preferences, the analysis can be performed manually or completely automatically.
Certain evaluations like occupancy statistics are not time-critical and therefore well suited for offline calculations. However, there are situations where a realtime analysis and response is necessary. If, for example, a new transmitter becomes active, a detailed investigation of that signal should be started immediately, in order to get further information and identify and locate that interferer or pirate station. This automatic procedure is simply a question of setting up the measurement accordingly.