Army Provides Mobile Satellite Communications For Disaster Response
By Dialogo January 27, 2011De hecho, cuando alguien no entiende, depende de los otros visitantes ayudar, y eso ocurre aquÃ.
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Sometimes the enemy isn’t an insurgency – it’s a storm surge.
Just ask Col. Quill Ferguson.
“When you enter into a crisis situation, normally one of the first things to go is your communications,” said Col. Ferguson, G6 for U.S. Army North, which frequently responds to natural disasters. “Having a satellite-based network allows you to bridge some of that infrastructure damage that you normally get, whether it’s an earthquake, a hurricane or another man-made or natural event.”
In the years since Hurricane Katrina exposed dangerous information gaps between various government responders, the Army has developed high-tech capabilities that enable rapid, inter-agency communications during an emergency. One of those systems, the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability, or JISCC, has been deployed in response to wildfires in California, the earthquake in Haiti and other disaster areas, said Joseph Cellini, JISCC project lead for the Army’s Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T).
In austere battlefield environments, network infrastructure can be nonexistent – leaving Soldiers to rely on imported satellite communications to transmit information by voice, data and video. Back in the U.S., a disaster that wipes out the communications infrastructure can have the same chilling effect.
“The advanced, futuristic technologies that we live with go away, and you become very austere,” Cellini said. “You have no electricity, satellite, bandwidth and communications. Think of all the things we do on a daily basis. Now take it all away. That’s really what happens at an incident site such as 9/11 and such as Katrina.”
Now, the Army is able to fill that void by bringing in its own communications pipelines. Army North relies on vehicles powered by a generator and equipped with a satellite connection, allowing Soldiers to connect with their higher headquarters on both classified and unclassified networks, said Sgt. 1st Class Alberto Hernandez, who is assigned to Army North.
“Once we have established communications through the satellite link, it’s just like being back at the office. You have the same capabilities,” Hernandez said. “It helps immensely.”
The familiar, user-friendly equipment for transmitting voice, video and data means personnel don’t confront a “learning gap” in the critical moments, Ferguson said.
“We can be on the air in 10 minutes or better, and that means the difference in saving lives and coordinating with the first responders at every level – whether it’s the local, state or federal level,” he said. “The most crucial element of any crisis is information, and being able to disseminate that information, to share it with the right people, at the right time.”
In addition to satellite feeds, both the Army North vehicles and the JISCC come equipped with handheld portable radios that can run on various bands and frequencies, permitting different agencies to talk to one another. That provides simultaneous situational awareness for first responders including police and fire departments, Emergency Medical Technicians, state and local governments, and relief organizations such as the Red Cross, Cellini said.
“There are no longer these disparate communication nodes he said.”Everyone can talk by doing talk groups. It brings everyone on the same common page.”