Since 9/11, when First Responders charged into New York’s Twin Towers without interoperable communications equipment that could have told them what they were really facing, many nations have adopted measures to strengthen security efforts. The wireless systems are still a challenge, however, and the full potential of new technology is only now being explored.
A project is starting to seed the creation of a permanent First Responder Test-Bed in the Kanata area of Ottawa. The Test-Bed organizers are looking for ideas for wireless applications that could be considered for use.
The Test-Bed will incorporate LTE broadband, to provide higher data speeds that will allow for the use of new video and data applications that aren’t currently available. In a situation in which people may be trapped in a building, for example, firefighters could use the network to download building floor plans to find the best ways to reach the victims. At the same time, because the LTE standard might not support all of the functionality–such as push to talk–that first responders need, current Land Mobile Radio systems will also be offered.
The First Responder Test-Bed is a corridor of some 20 kilometers in length, running along roadways in the Kanata area of Ottawa. The facility is being provided by many NVA partners; these partners include Alcatel-Lucent Canada, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, the Communications Research Centre, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, nTerop, the NVA, WeMiP and WiSense, (University of Ottawa). The Test-bed is open for the participation of all vendors, and all First Responder organizations.
First Responders will be plugged into the facilities of the major research organizations of the public and private sectors. The Test-Bed program gives Canadian First Responders a framework in which to explore this future as it unfolds.
According to one of the First Responder executives, the Test-Bed’s top benefit is that “For the first time in Canadian emergency service history, it will be possible for all emergency services to work with the private sector and each other in developing and testing technologies of the future under real-life conditions.”
Specifically, the First Responder Test-Bed will overcome the core challenges involved in the top concerns of First Responders today:
• Information Management
• Equipment Unification
• Remote Access
Today a First Responder’s vehicle is in a transition phase from an autonomous system to a fully integrated part of a highly connected network which covers all aspects of communication requirements, relevant services, safety, traffic, efficient use of energy and financial transactions. This transition will have a massive impact on First Responders, and how they do their jobs.
The Test-Bed is being supported by a partnership that includes DRDC-CPRC, the Communications Research Centre, Alcatel-Lucent, the Networked Vehicle Association, the Ontario Ministry of Transport, nTerop, WeMip, and the University of Ottawa’s WiSense organization.
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