Global Technology Leader Revathi Pillai Joins Mutualink Management Team

August 11, 2020

WALLINGFORD, CT - Mutualink, Inc., an innovator and leader in interoperable communications for homeland security, public safety and private security, announced that Ms. Revathi Pillai joins the company as Senior Vice President of Engineering. Revathi brings an impressive technical leadership background to Mutualink, including working with and advancing through some of the largest and most well-known companies in the communications industry.

“In addition to her nearly 25 years of engineering experience, Revathi also brings a global perspective having worked with telecom infrastructure and carriers around the world,” says Joe Mazzarella, president of Mutualink. “Revathi’s experience in wireless communications, software, hardware and Internet of Things (IoT) will be an enormous benefit to our company as we continue to evolve and innovate our product offerings to meet and anticipate customer needs. As a variety of traditionally distinct markets continue to converge, IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) proliferation empower new services.  We are already doing ground-breaking work with Smart Cities and IoT, and we will be all the more well-positioned and capable with Revathi on our team.”

Most recently, in her role as vice president of engineering at AES Corporation, Revathi led new product development, design, technology enhancements and research and development through wireless mesh and cloud services delivery. Previously she held leadership roles at various companies, including Ericsson, focused on IoT.

Revathi holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama and an MBA in Strategic Innovation & Entrepreneurship from the University of Illinois, and completed the Executive Leadership Program at Cornell University. She is the author of multiple patents and published articles.

Thinking Outside the Box Cliché

We understand it, but do not practice it

By Mark Anderko – Business Development Executive – Federal Government Services for Mutualink

Among the most well-worn phrases in the Public or Private Sectors  is “thinking outside the box”. It is intended to mean thinking creatively, freely, and off the beaten path. This concept has become cliché, especially today. We now operate in a pandemic environment where every day is considered the new normal and where protocols and responsibilities change frequently but the mission of the organization remains steadfast.  This blog targets interoperable communications - how do we leverage legacy resources?  How do we share information across these systems with our partners?  Are we complete; can we do better?

Thinking Outside the Box Like a Leader

As part of my leadership curriculum and class discussion I introduce this concept to the minds of aspiring leaders. Seasoned managers and leaders open their minds, as well.  In my introduction into the subject, I use the following exercise as an ice breaker.

Link all 9 dots using four straight lines or fewer, without lifting the pen and without tracing the same line more than once.

Anderko Blod 9 dots image

Failed 9Dot Puzzle Box

The result? The exercise usually ends with a dot missing and the individual or organization creating a perimeter, thus boxing them in.

99% of the time, the class struggles to connect all the dots given the set of instructions.  The 1% that succeed have been introduced to this concept before.  So here is my question,  If we hear and understand the concept,  why don’t we apply it.   The answer is simple, from day one we have been  programmed and bound by operational definitions and by our own blind spots.  Oh, and yes, we have them as individuals and as organizations.

The solution that captures all the dots with 4 lines goes beyond the framework of the box

9Dot Solution

See where “outside the box” comes from? There was no directive given about staying within a box, but our minds tend to build a box there, and a constraint is instantly put in place.

Thinking outside the box is about dispensing with constraints — as many as possible. That is what the solution does, and that is what the most effective kind of original and innovative thinking also does.

  1. Eliminate the Goal-Directedness of Your Thinking

If you aim at the same target everyone else is aiming at, your shots will end up where everyone else’s do. If you operate within the same paradigm as every other organization, you are going to remain in that proverbial box.

My point is that the minute you introduce a goal in your thinking, you are introducing a constraint. Your mind now has a direction, and it will tend to go in that direction. This is why so many organizations  bring in outside consultants, and concepts to help come up with new ideas. The consultants do not carry the burden of having blind spots on their thinking. They can offer up  new ideas and concepts that will enhance operational capabilities leveraging the organizations solution footprint.

  1. Intend to encounter, rather than “come up with” outside the box ideas

Rather than “coming up with ideas” — which is more an act of creation, it is better to think of yourself as just encountering ideas. You are not creating; you are just browsing. Use the lessons of discovery of what is available and what is the art of the possible to assist in growth and enhancement of current systems.

  1. Think wide

Keep every realm of thinking on the table. LMR and Video Sharing, Sharing MCPTT, while maintaining incident management and GIS solutions. Do not discount anything as unrelated or unconnected. It is often that kind of thinking that creates the kind of problems that demand “outside of the box” thinking in the first place.

The lesson is to stay wide in your thinking, Do not discount things that seem unconnected. The benefits to your Outside the Box thinking can be tremendous.

We can be prepared for an unpredictable world.

Emergencies are unpredictable. The who, what, when and where of communications needed for mitigation is unknown until the incident unfolds. Additionally, emergency environments are not static. New priorities can rapidly emerge. Therefore, collaboration is needed with those in both remote and immediate proximity. The complex interdependencies of the real world require a communications approach that serves this dynamic.

Complex incidents go across jurisdictional boundaries. They sometimes require response from local, state, and federal agencies. Mutualink’s secure peer-to-peer Internet Protocol (IP) network eliminates the need for a central switch or media server, so each agency controls what, when and with whom to share.

Moreover, Mutualink is network and device agnostic. So, each agency can securely communicate using legacy assets while transitioning to newer technologies with everything working seamlessly.

Making Critical Information Actionable

Mutualink is a premium solution for those with complex communication and safety challenges.

Mutualink connects

____________________

Mark Anderko is a retired Deputy Chief of Police from New Jersey. He has 28 years of experience in Law Enforcement and Emergency Management.  In addition, Mark served as an adjunct instructor for undergraduate and graduate-level courses in Police Science and Emergency and Disaster Management.  Mark is a Business Development Executive – Federal Government Services at Mutualink.

Mutualink strengthens Federal Government client missions by fostering relationships. The platform enhances the operational environment by enabling seamless multimedia communications.  Mutualink’s hardware and software provides consistent, high quality interoperability. The technology connects radio, phone, video, text, and data among thousands of customers on our network. Our solution grew out of needs identified after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

CIT Selects Partners to Build a First-of-Its-Kind Smart Community

Contract agreements signal the official start of building a technology testbed in Stafford County

Herndon, VA, May 05, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced that four contracts have been issued to build Stafford’s technology testbed, a key milestone for the public-private partnership developing Virginia’s first ground-up “smart community.” Expected to be up and running in six weeks, the smart city technology testbed will focus on Internet of Things (IoT) device security to help prevent community ransomware attacks, and protect the privacy of citizens, while providing critical data to help the county improve operations and services.

The Stafford testbed will act as a living laboratory - testing emerging technologies in real-world situations and providing a long-term capability that can be used to validate innovation before bringing it into the operational “Smart Stafford” infrastructure.

Contracts were awarded to the following companies to begin the build:

“Security and privacy are a critical foundation for building sustainable smart communities. We are excited to see this groundbreaking project kick off today with the support of our technology partners,” said John Holden, director of Stafford Economic Development and Tourism. “The testbed illustrates our commitment to public-private partnerships, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Stafford and provides a unique opportunity for Downtown Stafford to be the model for smart cities across the Commonwealth.”

The project builds on work done for the Department of Homeland Security at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena last fall - a large-scale experimental IoT deployment at the Arena that demonstrated dual-use capability for both daily facility operations and first responder information in emergency situations. The Stafford County effort is funded through investments from the Department of Homeland Security and Virginia Smart Community initiatives. It will include activities in both Stafford County and Arlington.

About the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT)
Investing for Commonwealth Growth | CIT concentrates on the early commercialization and seed funding stages of innovation, helping innovators and tech entrepreneurs launch and grow new companies, create high paying jobs and accelerate economic growth throughout the entire state of Virginia. Founded in 1985, CIT accelerates next-generation technologies and technology companies through commercialization, capital formation, market development initiatives, and expansion of broadband throughout Virginia. Our programs include | CIT GAP Funds | Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) | Virginia Founders Fund | Broadband/Rural Broadband | Smart Communities | Cybersecurity | Unmanned Systems | SBIR/STTR Support (Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) & Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs) | University Partnerships | Startup Company Mentoring & Engagement. CIT’s CAGE Code is 1UP71. Contact: 2214 Rock Hill Road #600, Herndon, VA 20170 | 703.689.3000 | www.cit.org
You can also follow CIT on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

About Aer Wireless
Aer Wireless, a Virginia-based company, offers an innovative wireless last-mile technology solution that provides simple, fast, affordable broadband connectivity with a focus on rural America.  Aer Wireless’s mission is to provide rapid deployment of high-speed Internet to help communities improve economic development, telemedicine, distance learning, and other smart city and quality-of-life services anywhere...regardless of the terrain. With a proprietary mesh network technology, powered by Mage Networks, and a unique combination of technology and services, customers can enjoy ultra-fast Wi-Fi Internet at home, outdoors, or on the move. For more information, please visit www.aerwireless.com.

About MutualinkMutualink, Inc. provides an interoperable communications platform that enables community-wide multimedia sharing of radio, voice, text, video, data files, and telephone communications in a secure environment. Mutualink’s system is deployed by thousands of public safety and private security entities and facilities, including homeland security, police and fire departments, emergency operations centers, hospitals, schools and universities, transit authorities, stadiums, shopping malls, casinos, and more. Mutualink is a privately held company headquartered in Wallingford, CT, with R&D facilities in Westford, MA; Allen, TX; and Mayagüez, PR. For more information, please visit www.mutualink.net.

About Onclave Networks
Onclave Networks, Inc. is a Virginia-based technology company offering Secure IoT® through a channel of system integrators and device OEMs globally. Onclave formed and patented its technology in 2016. Secure IoT® is a Zero Trust secure communications platform for Enterprises and device OEMs that runs and protects Operational Technologies regardless of age, operating system, manufacturer, or protocol. Secure IoT® includes continuous monitoring with isolation and containment by design to eliminate the OT attack surface and dramatically improve enterprise protection while reducing costs. For more information please visit www.onclave.net.

About OST Global
OST Global, Inc. is a leader in implementing Smart City projects and a provider of C4ISR, Cyber, Engineering, Logistics, Managed Services, and Smart technologies. OST serves multiple industries, including aviation, defense, financial, health, insurance, utility, and transportation. Its client base consists of Fortune 1000 companies and public sector organizations such as the US Department of Defense (Air Force, Army, Navy, and Joint programs), Commerce, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, plus state and local governments. OST is externally appraised/registered as CMMI-DEV Level 3, CMMI-SVCS Level 3, ISO 9001, ISO 10002, ISO 20000, and ISO 27001. For more information, please visit www.OSTGlobal.com.

Sara (Pomakoy) Poole
Center for Innovative Technology
sara.poole@cit.org

Incident Command & Mutualink

The Incident Command System (ICS) was developed by the fire service in the 1970s, after a series of California wildfires. The fire service and emergency management organizations refined ICS over the years into an "all risks" or "all hazards" system. It is now used for managing emergencies of any type.

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security developed the National Incident Management System (NIMS).  NIMS utilizes ICS and provides a common nationwide approach for whole community response to all types of threats and hazards. NIMS guides all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to work together to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from incidents regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity.

The basic premise of ICS is to provide first responders a practical, widely applicable framework. ICS enables efficient incident management by coordinating personnel, resources, procedures and communications.  ICS ensures organizational structure success, whether under a single Incident Commander or a Unified Command involving various disciplines.

The primary objective of effective incident command is the exchange of timely, accurate, and clear verbal communication. In order to make informed decisions and resolve issues, critical information must be shared and managed. Unfortunately, communication shortcomings are often identified as a common obstacle amongst stakeholders involved in an incident.

Mutualink Interoperability Based on ICS

In 2006, the founders of Mutualink recognized that the technology they had developed could solve interoperable communication deficits. Today, Mutualink’s robust multimedia interoperability solution is an inclusive open platform bridging communication gaps. It allows for collaboration between private sector organizations and public sector agencies, leveraging existing communication resources. Bridging siloes amplifies the value of disparate communications systems.

The Mutualink solution easily integrates into any organization’s incident command and mutual aid policies and procedures. It amplifies the effectiveness of ICS by allowing for instant, secure, private on-demand interoperability from a computer or mobile device. Bridging communications between first responders and the information they need enables them to take action during an emergency, or to assess threats and proactively mitigate them.

Benefits of Mutualink's ICS-Based Solution

Like the Incident Command System in which it is based, Mutualink is scalable and flexible to allow users to adjust according to any given condition. It allows public safety incident commanders as well as private security teams from other disciplines to quickly enable inclusive communication via voice, video or data. With the Mutualink platform they can coordinate resources in order to enhance situational awareness and expedite incident resolution. The Mutualink system can also receive and read alarms and event messages and automatically create collaboration sessions with those who need to know. The goal is to reduce time to incident resolution.

Emergency managers choose our platform to connect critical information in the right form to the right people at the right time, no matter what technology or network they use. For routine daily operations, preparing for a planned event, or responding to a critical incident, they turn to Mutualink for seamless and secure bridged communications based on ICS.

From our inception to present day, we remain steadfast in our core commitment to make critical information actionable in an otherwise unpredictable world. We do this in alignment with the goals and objectives of the Incident Command System.

By George Battle, Mutualink Director of Public Safety Operations & Customer Success

____________

George Battle is the Director of Public Safety Operations & Customer Success for Mutualink.  Mr. Battle has thirty-one years of law enforcement experience with the Connecticut State Police, retiring as the Colonel / Deputy Commissioner in January 2019.  He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, has a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and is board-certified Protection Professional in Security Management through ASIS International.

Verizon and Mutualink Partner to Help Improve Interoperability for First Responders

Today, Verizon announced a new strategic partnership with Mutualink, making Mutualink’s interoperability-as-a-service solutions available directly through Verizon. Together, Verizon and Mutualink are helping improve crisis response by enabling interoperable agency communications and information sharing for devices across different networks, ensuring first responders, public safety agencies, and private security personnel can share critical information when they need it most.

Mutualink is the leader in secure, interoperable communications and information-sharing services for public safety. The Mutualink solution improves collaboration across audio, video and data during emergency response using highly secure encryption and identity management.

“Without interoperable systems, first responders can struggle to get access to the latest information in emergency situations,” said Nick Nilan, Director of Public Sector Product Development, Verizon. “When lives are on the line, we believe interoperability in public safety is critical. This new partnership with Mutualink will expand our range of interoperable solutions for public safety, helping to keep first responders and public safety agencies connected when the stakes are high.”

Verizon and Mutualink, in an effort to simplify complex communication, will join forces to enable all community partners involved in incident response to easily create secure group communications for improved collaboration and data sharing in near real time. This improved collaboration gives agencies greater control and choice when cross-agency communications are mission critical. For first responders and state and local agencies, this partnership also simplifies the public sector procurement process by making Mutualink’s interoperability solutions available directly from Verizon.

“Separate systems, technology disparities and lack of coordination can compromise emergency response,” said Mark Hatten Mutualink’s CEO. “However, interoperability is more than just interconnecting different networks. It requires real-time video sharing, geospatial information and data sharing to work effectively across all networks during the most critical moments. Verizon is a perfect partner for Mutualink thanks to our mutual commitment to ensuring public safety applications are accessible by all first responders, regardless of the network they use.”

This partnership reinforces Verizon’s commitment to interoperability between networks, devices, and applications for first responders to help enable mission-critical communications when it matters most. Verizon continues to invest in advanced communications, networks and solutions built for public safety and is committed to working with the public safety community, other network operators and the entire wireless industry to promote an open and fully interoperable ecosystem that serves first responders.

About Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) was formed on June 30, 2000 and is celebrating its 20th year as one of the world’s leading providers of communications, information and entertainment products and services. Headquartered in New York City and with a presence around the world, Verizon generated revenues of $130.9 billion in 2018.  The company offers voice, data and video services and solutions on its award winning networks and platforms, delivering on customers’ demand for mobility, reliable network connectivity, security and control.

The COPS Office STOP School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP)

NOW EXTENDED:

The COPS Office has extended the application deadline for the FY20 School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) from April 8, 2020 to April 29, 2020 at 7:59 p.m. EDT due to the potential impact of jurisdictional emergency responses to COVID-19 that may cause reasonable delays for applicants.

SCHOOL VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAM (SVPP)
• Purpose - Provide funding to improve security at schools and on school grounds through the use of evidence-based school safety programs.
• Eligibility - States, counties, cities, sheriff’s offices, police departments, tribes, and school districts, independent school districts.
• 2020 Funding - $50 million

For detailed individual program information, see the grants page.

OVERVIEW

The SVPP funds up to 75% of allowable costs to improve school safety within the fundable categories below, up to $500K over three years. Minimum 25% cash match unless waiver granted.

The allowable use of funds under this program include the following:

Call Mutualink at (866) 957-5465 to learn how our equipment and technology items can be linked to and enhance your school safety plan under the SVPP guidelines.

MUTUALINK IS PROVEN K12 TECHNOLOGY

Capt Francis

Communication Gaps in the Emergency Response Community

This blog contains excerpts from Gap Assessment in the Emergency Response Community published in September 2010 by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory prepared for the Department of Homeland Security, along with the viewpoint of the writer of this blog. To read the full report, please visit:

https://www.pnnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-19782.pdf

Why do emergency response agencies regularly encounter operational communication gaps? This question consistently plagues and challenges today's preparedness and response organizations in  environments that range from catastrophic to day-to-day operations that stress communication resources. What I address below is the technology that is available to enhance and expand current legacy communications systems to scale and to fit any circumstance.

The answer, very simply stated, is that in times when the circumstances are fast-moving and stress levels are high, the Emergency Management professional relies on "muscle memory" procedures. This technique may have worked in the past to allow the involved agencies to get by temporarily, but in the end, the operational communication gaps regularly reveal and repeat themselves. My goal in sharing the excerpts below is to serve as an essential bridge so that when these gaps appear, we can identify a mitigation solution that allows agencies to work smarter, not harder, in response to difficult and challenging events.

INFORMATION COLLECTION, SHARING AND DISSEMINATION

Accurate and timely decisions within a response event can have an affect on information that is communicated. Decision makers must have a precise perception of the situation - situation awareness. The ability to have access to the right information about the event is essential to this cognitive state.

The fast pace and critical nature of Emergency Management requires the ability to access and share information efficiently and effectively; however, several competing factors often make this a challenge. Specifically, the adoption of new technology that does not replace but enhances the ability to process information actively and passively in one environment.

Emergency Management personnel often have difficulties obtaining the information they need. The lack of knowledge in an event is due to several fundamental problems: lack of awareness that the data (voice, video, and document) exists; not knowing who controls the information; and the inability to access the information, or having access but in a format that is not understandable. Personnel also frequently find that information is not shared across organizations.

COMMUNICATIONS

Emergency communications are essential within and across Emergency Management agencies and jurisdictions throughout the lifecycle of an incident. Emergency Management communications systems during a catastrophic disaster must operate sufficiently to meet internal and external emergency communication requirements. Research suggests that gaps associated with communications may have organizational, technological, and sociological components (Manoj and Baker 2007). Organizational challenges prevalent in Emergency Management deal with a transition from day-to-day centralized decision making to a more dynamic ad hoc organization that emerges with post-disaster relief efforts. The main technological post-disaster challenge is the rapid deployment of communication systems for the Emergency Management community.

INFORMATION SECURITY

Maintaining the appropriate level of security for sensitive information is an essential component of emergency management as it allows Emergency Management personnel to respond to emergencies without inappropriate use of information by unauthorized parties. 

ANALYSIS AND DECISION SUPPORT

Analysis and decision support are essential to the management of the complex environment of an emergency. The analysis involves evaluating information that has been collected and drawing conclusions about the information to enhance decision making. Gaps associated with analysis and decision support are broken into the following categories: information relevance; role ambiguity; decision making with limited information, expertise, resources, and time; and coordinated decision making. Information vs. relevance deals with situations in which the value of information may be lost or unrecognized. Role ambiguity exists when individuals or organizations are uncertain of their job duties and level of authority; this leads to increased individual stress and a variety of inefficiencies that negatively impact Emergency Management effectiveness.

SITUATION AWARENESS

Situation awareness is a cognitive state that reflects the real-time understanding of an environment and its relation to pertinent goals. Situation awareness has been shown to be significantly related to performance for those who have the technical and operational capabilities to take advantage of it (Endsley 1995). Communications gaps related to situation awareness into three categories: dynamic situations, resource status, and geographic visualization. Changing conditions often create increasingly complex environments, making it challenging to maintain good situational awareness.

KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER

Effective knowledge transfer is critical for operations, multiple handoffs, and shift changes during the course of an event. Knowledge transfer is the communication of knowledge between individuals and organizations across a range of domains and time scales (e.g., from shift changes to organizational best practices). Gaps exist in organizational memory as experienced staff members leave, and new staff members join the organization; they also exist in the documentation and understanding of organizational lessons learned and best practices. Training gaps relate to shortcomings in two broad and overlapping categories: training for technical skills and cognitive skills.

AVOIDING THE PROVERBIAL GAP "THE BLINDSPOT"

The gaps identified are vital issues and challenges facing the Emergency Response community. The purpose of documenting these gaps is to gain a better understanding of the technology needs of this community along with partner communities (i.e., business) and to work toward identifying future solutions to address these needs. The overarching gaps associated with information collection, sharing, and dissemination, communications; information security; analysis and decision support; situation awareness; knowledge transfer, and the integration of geographic mapping layers for visualization have been captured and documented.

Strategic language has developed exampled by Emergency Support Function (ESF #2) – Communications Annex, which provides the purpose, scope, and how it should be applied regarding the relationship to the whole community to include Governmental / Private Sector / Nongovernmental Organizations regarding communication infrastructure and Interoperability. Today's leaders within the Emergency Response and Emergency Management are apprehensive about breaking away from "muscle memory" Today's Emergency Response / Emergency Management leaders need to be forward-leaning to see how technology can enhance the effectiveness of legacy equipment. Today's Emergency Response / Emergency Management leaders can perform at the highest levels with the technological tools they have viewed or acquired. It is within that leadership role that these leaders champion the effort of implementation of these tools into the operational environment, which includes; typical day to day operations as well as using them to support the communications mission in catastrophic events. Training on these tools exists in every moment within every planning period of every development of every day.

Mark Anderko is a retired Deputy Chief of Police from New Jersey with 28 years of experience in Law Enforcement and Emergency Management. In addition, Mark Anderko has served as an adjunct instructor for undergraduate and graduate-level courses in Police Science and Emergency and Disaster Management. Mark is a Business Development Executive – Federal Programs for Mutualink

Mutualink provides secure interoperable communications and information sharing solutions for emergency management, first responders, schools, and private security and protective service providers worldwide. Mutualink's hardware and software empowers agencies worldwide to interoperate and communicate. The company connects radio, phone, video, text, and data among thousands of global customers on the network.

Blog: Mark Anderko

References:

Gap Assessment in the Emergency Response Community published in September 2010 by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as prepared for Department of Homeland Security.  https://www.pnnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-19782.pdf

Manoj and Baker 2007 - ArticleinJournal of Emergency Management 5(5):55 · September 2007

Endsley, M.R.: Toward a Theory of Situation Awareness in Dynamic Systems. Human Factors Journal 37(1), 32-64

Emergency Support Function #2 – Communications Annex – June 2016.  https://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nrf/nrf-esf-02.pdf

Confronting Paper Thin Realities: Toilet Paper & Luca’s Dead Sister

How Interoperable Communications Is Essential but Overlooked in the COVID-19 Pandemic

According to media reports[1] in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, Luca Franzese’s sister, Teresa, died from a coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in Naples, Italy.  Under house quarantine, he called the city for help, but nobody knew what to do.  The funeral home wasn’t cooperating and didn’t know what to do either. Her decaying body remained unattended for 36 hours until Luca took to the internet to express his outrage.  In another part of Italy, a similar story played out, with an elderly woman left to attend to her dead husband for 3 days, calling from her balcony for help.  Indignant, her neighbors figuratively stormed city hall.  Back in the US, memes of empty toilet paper store shelves swirl the internet. A good laugh, but now the food shelves are emptying as well.  Meanwhile, business operations shutter, employees are sent home, restaurants are empty, and events are cancelled.  The economic and financial undercurrents of the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to pull us into deeper waters.

Below the surface of the COVID-19 pandemic roils a potentially highly volatile environment.  To effectively manage the increasing unpredictability that will surface in a myriad of unexpected ways, public and private partners must closely coordinate and work together.  In order to be successful, delivering the right information, to the right people at the right time to take informed action is essential.

These vignettes highlight a much bigger problem. Government agencies still struggle to communicate and coordinate with one another and even more so with private sector entities providing critical services during times of emergency.  This problem, coined “a lack of interoperability”, was exposed and brought to national attention after the attacks of September 11th.  The inability for police and fire to communicate with one another contributed to avoidable losses of lives. Nearly twenty years later, the problem continues with real world impacts, including more preventable losses of lives.  At this point, the cases of failed emergency responses arising from an inability to communicate, share information and coordinate could fill a book.  After-incident reports point to this problem as a major cause of delayed or poor emergency response in school, airport, theater and nightclub shootings, plane and train crashes, hurricanes, oil spills and wildfires.  Despite the recurring lesson, it remains unlearned.  Many emergency communications leaders will confidently attest that they have interoperability.  The reality is they don’t in any real-world sense, nor do they realize it until it’s too late.  Some, however, are leading the way and acting.  In New Jersey, nearly every hospital can seamlessly communicate on demand with one another as well as with their state and county public safety counterparts, using Mutualink.  In New Jersey, Mutualink was successfully used in the H1N1 and Ebola outbreaks, and is in service helping hospitals and their partners respond to COVID-19 today.

The need to connect hospitals, public health agencies and emergency management is immediate.  Acute care, urgent care and community health clinics are the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic.  The ability for partners to share up-to-the-minute status on resource availability - be it beds, medicines, equipment or healthcare professionals - is essential to the optimal utilization of the healthcare delivery system. Also, connecting the health care system to enable real-time coordination with emergency managers and public safety agencies performing an array of support functions is equally important.  These include identifying suspected sick persons in the field, rendering first aid, assisting with personnel transport, ensuring security at testing and health care delivery sites, and, if needed, enforcing quarantines and ensuring distribution of essential items to those in need.

And here is the essential point:  If your Teresa Franzese dies in the middle of the night, does anybody care?  The answer is undoubtedly, yes.  Even our often-maligned public servants and leaders do.  In fact, they continue to man the stations while most self-quarantine.  The problem is what to do about Teresa and Luca.

It starts with getting the right information to the right people at the right time.  It starts with saving Teresa Franzese in the first instance.  It starts with the right people having the right information to assess a self-quarantined person, formulating a plan and taking action. This could mean sending skilled medical staff to her, directing her to available medical help close-by, or perhaps remotely monitoring and sending medications to her.

In the second instance, it means connecting the morgue, funeral home and local health officials to solve the problem, instead of a round robin of finger-pointing resulting in inaction, only then to be buried beneath the next wave of urgent problems.  In response to media inquiries, the head of the association of funeral home directors reportedly told Al Jazeera “hat “the delay in collecting Teresa’s body was due to administrative hurdles, not any reluctance on their part.”[2]  Apparently unaware of other reported cases, one of Campania’s Regional Health Commissioners reportedly explained that “it was the first case in Italy in which a person with the virus dies at home, so there was some confusion on what to do.”[3] Sadly, this is a case of poor information coupled with a lack of coordination leading to inaction - not callous indifference.

Crises and pandemics happen and will continue to happen.  Inconvenience is tolerable. Perceived indifference marked by confusion, indecision and inaction isn’t.  It’s the first symptom of a different kind of contagion that stirs in the hearts of people and spreads into waves of public discontent and disorder.  Rarely do societies collapse from privation.  Humans are innately resilient and have remarkably high tolerances to discomfort when they believe they are all in it together. It’s the perception of indifference and the many small indignities suffered through inaction that ripple out, join and coalesce into waves of discontent.  It is precisely what led to Luca’s plaintive words, “Italy has abandoned us” being cast across Facebook, being heard 9.5 million times as of last count and splashed across the world’s headlines.  It’s why another retorted to an Italian news outlet, IVG.IT, “We are treated worse than garbage.”[4]

Tomorrow, communities could be better equipped to handle the COVId-19 crisis by deploying a real-time multimedia solution that connects critical community partners.  This will enable a coordinated and informed action environment.  Using a system such as Mutualink creates a dynamic environment where partners can instantly and securely communicate with one another across any network and any device, share critical data and real-time video from the field.  The ability to bridge different communication siloes, including different radio systems that don’t communicate with one another, mobile phones and push-to-talk applications allows for the right parties to come together in an instant, eliminating message relays, delays and inadequate information exchange.  Enabling partners to see what’s happening in the field to form assessments and make decisions is vital.  Maintaining broad situational awareness and updating partners as to needs and availability advances the prompt and efficient delivery of services.

Simply put, the ability to connect the right parties, at the right time with the right information makes all the difference in pandemics like the COVID-19 emergency.  It would have a made a difference in Luca’s case, and there will be many more Lucas ahead. All it takes is a simple decision to do it.

March 17, 2020

By Joe Mazzarella, President, Mutualink, Inc.

[1]Antonia Farzan (March12, 2020) 'Italy Has Abandoned Us': People Are Being Trapped at Home with Their Loved Ones' Bodies amid Coronavirus Lockdown.  Washington Post.   Retrieved from: www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/italy-has-abandoned-us-people-are-being-trapped-at-home-with-their-loved-ones-bodies-amid-coronavirus-lockdown/ar-BB115sYP?ocid=hplocalnews.

[2] Id. (citing Megan Iacobini de Fazio (March 10, 2020) Funeral services 'refused' to collect body of coronavirus victim.  Al Jazeera (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/funeral-services-refused-collect-body-coronavirus-victim-200310144913034.html).

[3] Id. (citing:  https://www.iene.mediaset.it/2020/news/coronavirus-morta-casa_723875.shtml?fbclid=IwAR1a5Rf0s6_v093dAGRjta2P-kIBUAxXtmxPxDCr-z5UvECyg_8sJ_w5wwI)

[4] Id. (citing: https://www.ivg.it/2020/03/coronavirus-a-borghetto-e-cadavere-in-casa-si-attende-lesito-dei-tamponi-e-anche-i-militi-finiscono-in-quarantena/).

Count on Us During the Coronavirus Response

As our nation deals with the unfolding COVID-19 outbreak, you can count on us to be at your side. We serve those who are on the frontlines helping those in need, including emergency management, public safety and healthcare providers.

Mutualink stands ready, willing and able to assist you at any time, day or night.

You are connected to the largest network of government, public safety and private security organizations in the world. You can rely on us to provide instantaneous, secure, private connections between you and the partners you need to coordinate with throughout the coming days and months.

24/7 EMERGENCY SUPPORT

Our Support team is available to help you in an emergency 24/7.

Support phone: 866-927-5465
Support Emailsupport@mutualink.net

RAPID DEPLOYMENT/EXPANSION

We are ready to quickly deploy additional capability as needed to serve your critical communications needs.
Expand Your Operations - Edge IWS Software-based Solution for Windows and mac
Remote Your Operations - Edge IWS Web Browser-based Interoperable Workstations
Equip Field Personnel - Edge IWS and @Team PTT Clients with Real-time Video
COOP - Mobile Go-Kits with Radio, Video and Telephone Bridging
If there are partners in need of Mutualink capability to maximize real-time communications and information sharing, please contact: info@mutualink.net
INCIDENT SESSION MANAGEMENT ASSISTANCE

If you need assistance establishing or running any incident session, trained Mutualink staff can be contacted through your IWS station and are on standby to accept your incident invitation, provide guidance and lend a hand.

Find help on your IWS under Mutualink: MLTraining01, MLTraining2 and  MLOperations01.

QUICK REFRESHER TRAINING

Your platform includes a number of features that ensure optimal sharing of information relating to incidents you may be managing. It might be helpful for you to meet remotely with someone from our Customer Success Operations & Policy team. Contact support@mutualink.net to set up an online consultation. Please include any questions or areas of interest in your email.

CONNECT YOUR CRITICAL PARTNERS

The COVID-19 pandemic response effort requires multi-agency cooperation and coordination. Critical partners include:

THANK YOU. We consider it a privilege to serve you and thank you all of your efforts to keep our communities safe and healthy. We appreciate your commitment to duty and willingness to help all of us.  Stay safe and we are here for you.

Thank you for all you do.

Very respectfully,

Mark Hatten, CEO
Joe Mazzarella, President

Dallas ISD Board Hears Remarks from School Security Professional 

DALLAS, TX — On Tuesday, members of the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees continued their discussions and review of options for a 2020 education bond package. While the Board is still considering plans that range from $2.7 billion to $3.7 billion, all proposals include important investments in school safety and security improvements.

With the rate of emergency events in our schools on the rise, leaders are looking for innovative ways to not only prevent a school shooting, medical accident, or other life-threatening issue, but to quickly respond and resolve those that occur.

Among those who addressed the Board on the bond proposal was Devra Kelly, Solutions Executive at Mutualink — a company helping to connect schools and law enforcement agencies so they can be prepared for an unpredictable world.

Kelly discussed the importance of investing in the multi-hazard response, training, and emergency communications system that Santa Fe High School installed after the May 2018 tragedy. Additional Texas school districts, including Texas City ISD and Dickinson ISD in the Bay Area rely on the same platform.

“When Dallas parents send their children to school, they rely on community leaders and the plans and systems they have put in place to keep their children safe,” Kelly said addressing the Board on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, almost every after-action school-shooting or public mass violence report cites communications failures as a contributing factor to the loss of life.”

“The technology exists to do better. Interoperable technologies instantly create a connection that allows communication between emergency response teams and schools. Better situational awareness results in better outcomes.”

Providing a bridge for radio, real-time video sharing, and instant communications to link schools with local law enforcement and first responders, Mutualink is proud to have reduced time to resolution by up to 50% in active shooter exercises involving SWAT and law enforcement.

Mutualink’s system is deployed worldwide for these purposes, including by federal, state and local first responder agencies, transit authorities, hospitals, utilities and shopping malls. FEMA and the Texas Department of Public Safety utilize the Mutualink system, which is SAFETY Act certified by the US Department of Homeland Security.

The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees is expected to open the bond proposals up for further community input next month. A finalized bond proposal would ultimately be presented to Dallas voters for approval on the November 2020 ballot.

ABOUT DEVRA KELLY

Devra Kelly’s career spans 25+ years as a security communications professional. Her work includes partnerships with state and local law enforcement and first responders, and dozens of schools across the state to help these organizations prepare for everyday emergencies and worst-case scenarios. Prior to entering the security industry, Devra was a teacher in Alaska and Montana.

magnifiercrosschevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram