Saturday, September 16, 2006

1st Interop Emergency Comm Service Unveiled

Nation's First Interoperable Emergency Communications Service Unveiled in Texas by Local, State and Federal Officials

Federal, state and local officials today heralded the implementation of a fully interoperable communications service at Dallas Love Field that for the first time allows police, fire, Federal agencies, private industry and airport personnel to communicate with each other over their existing networks and equipment. The Dallas Love Field Wireless Integration Project is the result of a unique public-private partnership that gives the Dallas region the first interoperable network in the nation that utilizes secure voice, video and data communications for emergency response and critical infrastructure management.

"While the essential roles and responsibilities of our nation's first responders and governments on all levels has been highlighted significantly in the wake of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and countless other tragedies throughout the country, the vast majority of the police, fire and EMS personnel who serve as our frontline of defense still do not have one of the most basic resources they need to do their jobs: namely the ability to communicate easily and securely with one another," said Mark Tucker, chief executive officer and co-founder of CoCo Communications. "Today, however, I am pleased to be here in Texas, joined by an extraordinary group of people representing a cross-section of local, state and Federal agencies who have worked in partnership to successfully address this challenge and establish the nation's first interoperable and secure emergency communications service."

The State of Texas, the City of Dallas, the Texas Congressional Delegation, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognized the ongoing interoperability challenges and joined forces with CoCo Communications to implement a service that met the needs of first responders and the budget realities of local, state and Federal agencies and departments. Using funds from DHS, the Project was initiated with the goal of implementing the communications framework for a national interoperability service model that could be cost effectively duplicated throughout the State of Texas and nationally.

The system that was ultimately approved and deployed is based on CoCo Communications' software, known as the CoCo Protocol, which 'rides' on top of existing network infrastructures, dramatically extending the return on investment in legacy devices and networks, while eliminating communication breakdowns created by systems that simply do not 'talk' with each other because of differing frequencies or operating systems. This makes two-way radios compatible with other radios and commonly deployed devices including cellular phones, laptops and PDAs by creating a common interface that can be shared by all available resources. The result is a comprehensive interoperable network that is easy and affordable to implement and expand as needed. Additionally, the service allows for efficient use of fixed network resources such as spectrum. Instead of loading networks with devices that deplete the networks' operating capacity, CoCo's software creates a "mesh" architecture in which every device that accesses the network adds to the network, with each device acting as its own router.

This service also allows for unprecedented management and control capabilities, integrating command center and on-the-ground activities among Dallas Love Field, the City of Dallas and Southwest Airlines personnel, as well as State of Texas and Federal officials and workers. Users securely access the service from end-user device interfaces, such as laptops or PDAs, where people can view video feeds and a customized information "ticker." At the same time, they are able to converse with their colleagues to share critical information during emergency situations or for normal day-to-day activities.

Current users and participants of the program include:

* City of Dallas Police, Fire and Aviation Departments;
* The State of Texas Departments of Public Safety and Health;
* The U.S. Department of Homeland Security
* U.S. Transportation Security Administration
* U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
* U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and
* Southwest Airlines.

You can learn more about the system at