'Magic box' enhances communications, situational awareness

An intelligent router for awareness of real-time events, no matter how remote.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

For emergency service workers responding to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, time was the greatest enemy. Another formidable challenge that impeded rescue efforts was clogged or incompatible communications channels between the various responders.

Recognizing the communications challenges that emergency workers face in tough situations in any and all environments, Norwegian, Finnish and Spanish telecoms specialists and researchers have created -- through an effort called the DeHiGate project --an intelligent router that can find and integrate existing channels of communications.

As Vidar Karlsen, research and development manager at the Norwegian branch of French electronics firm Thales, puts it, such a piece of equipment is far more lightweight and flexible than the assemblages that remote workers currently need to rely on:

"Our idea was to make a sophisticated box that you could connect to all kinds of communications centers like satellite and wireless, a box that emergency services could take with them instead of a big satellite dish."

The project team worked with firefighters to simulate real-life, real-time scenarios involving the use of emergency ad hoc radio stations to deploy communications, use the Internet, and pass video footage back to colleagues at base. "With this you can get reports on digital maps and see where each and every firefighter was," says Karlsen.

The ability to assemble and support real-time communications from any place, especially in high-pressure situations, not only helps emergency workers, but also opens up new possibilities for event processing feeds into organizations of all kinds. Business intelligence is immeasurably enhanced by situational awareness of what's happening well beyond the bounds of the organization.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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