On the corner of technology and human behavior

Technology and human behavior definitions:

Behavior:  The way in which a person acts in response to a particular situation or stimulus

Intersection:  A point at which two or more things come together

Technology:  The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes

Adoption:  The action of fact of choosing to take up, follow or use something

Technology and human behavior have been intersecting for years.  This intersection is a result of identifying gaps in our behaviors and responses, and then acquiring technology as a solution to strengthen or bridge gaps while improving overall performance.  You know the old adage, “work smarter, not harder”. What I've see is that organizations that truly embrace this are more efficient and effective in the space that they operate.

Within operational environments, I challenge organizations to adopt that very notion based on the following model:

What I am asking you to look at is behavior and adoption as the critical areas of the process that will ultimately determine success or failure of the solution. As a result, you will see that everything you do is a people process. And technology is only as good as the people that are going to use it. I want to introduce one more word into your vocabulary:

Socialization:  The action of process causing a person to behave in a way that is acceptable to the organization.

And socialization comes down to leadership.  Leadership must properly introduce, train, maintain and grow behavior around the technology. When the technology is socialized properly, this action will introduce or enhance creativity and critical thinking. When members of an organization become part of the creativity and critical thinking of the organization, the organization produces problem solvers. And problem solvers lend themselves to developing a stronger organization with the use of the technology solution.

So, in closing, no matter how elaborate the technology solution is, the focus should be on the introduction and socialization of that solution into the workforce that will ultimately determine the strength of that intersection on the corner of technology and human behavior. Success and sustainability will result.

By Mark Anderko

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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 Anderko served as an adjunct instructor for undergraduate and graduate-level courses in Police Science and Emergency and Disaster Management.  Mark is the Sr. Director of Program Operations for Mutualink.

Mutualink strengthens communities and relationships by enabling seamless operational communications.  Mutualink’s technology provides consistent, high quality interoperability. The company 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, when FEMA presented the National Incident Management System (NIMS) for all hazards response.

“An Uncommon Commitment to Boundless Connections”

Shooter Detection Systems and Mutualink Announce Technical Integration to Improve Emergency Communications in Active Shooter Incidents

Security industry and public safety technology leaders join forces to integrate gunshot detection and location reporting with first responder interoperability system

Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), the security industry’s leading gunshot detection provider and Mutualink, a worldwide leading provider of secure interoperable communications solutions today announced the technology integration between the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System and the Mutualink Interoperability Platform to rapidly disseminate critical information and improve situational awareness for first responders during active shooter incidents.

Active shooter incidents that have happened in schools, workplaces and public venues have exposed critical gaps in emergency communications between incident locations and the local law enforcement agencies responding to them. SDS and Mutualink have joined forces in an effort to bridge this gap by instantly opening communication pathways between incident locations and law enforcement that will provide the first responder community with real-time situational awareness for a more rapid and informed response to save lives in active shooter events.

Built from sniper detection technology used by the U.S. military in conflicts around the globe, Guardian combines proprietary acoustic gunshot detection algorithms and infrared sensors to detect gunshots in the indoor environment. Unique to the Guardian System, this dual-mode technology detects 100% of gunshots and with zero false alerts, as per extensive performance testing conducted by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure in the United Kingdom. Customers using the Guardian System include K-12 schools, colleges and universities, Fortune 1000 corporations, public venues, and state and federal government agencies.

With a similar customer base, Mutualink’s business is rapid multimedia communication enablement. When time saved means lives saved, Mutualink helps first responders resolve incidents more quickly through expedited, effective radio and real-time video collaboration. With the drag-and-drop interface, dispatchers, security officers and law enforcement personnel create radio and video bridges. Response is enhanced through fast coordination and enhanced situational awareness.

For locations utilizing the Guardian System, building occupants are instantly alerted to the presence and location of gunshots, allowing them to make informed decisions to save their own lives. When combined with Mutualink, the integration instantly activates a collaboration session with law enforcement communications systems when an active shooter is detected. The Guardian-Mutualink integration will now automate law enforcement communication with onsite security upon the detection of gunshots, delivering real-time situational awareness of the incident by radio, video and text for rapid, informed response. The joint solution allows Guardian customers to choose to establish a communications bridge with law enforcement on the Mutualink system upon gunshot detections. Information can also be shared on an ad hoc basis. The potential for privacy concerns over information sharing between private and public entities is mitigated, as each entity maintains sovereign control over their communications.

“Since 2014 we’ve been delivering our customers a critical missing piece to their active shooter response plans with gunshot detection solutions that communicate immediate, lifesaving information in under one second to building occupants,” said SDS CEO Christian Connors. “Recent active shooter events have emphasized the need to take our mission one step further and integrate with leading public safety technology providers like Mutualink so communities can prioritize information sharing with law enforcement in real-time to save lives during active shooter incidents. SDS views the Mutualink connection to local and federal law enforcement as a major step in alleviating the public to private communication barrier.”

This technology integration brings together two proven DHS SAFETY Act Certified technologies that instantly intersect communications during active shooter incidents with an integrated suite of onsite gunshot monitoring with mass notification, law enforcement radio, video and data collaboration between the incident location and law enforcement.

“Mutualink is honored to be working with Shooter Detection Systems. We feel proud that the combination of technologies offers schools, convention centers and other public and private entities a platform for mitigating threats to their stakeholders,” Mark Hatten, Mutualink CEO, said. “The public deserves technologies that will keep them safe. And the truth is, first responders will also be safer when they have better, faster information about the incidents they are charged with resolving.”

About Shooter Detection Systems

Shooter Detection Systems logoAs the security industry’s leading provider of gunshot detection technology, Shooter Detection Systems (SDS) is focused on saving lives through the use of proven, military-grade technology designed by the world’s foremost scientists. Developed in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and a major defense contractor, SDS’ gunshot detection systems are SAFETY Act Certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Approved for U.K. Government Use by the Centre for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure (CPNI), and SL4 Certified by the Australian Government’s Security Construction & Equipment Committee (SCEC). SDS serves customers in markets including K-12 and higher education, corporate, transportation, government, retail, entertainment, utility and manufacturing, and property management. For more information, visit https://www.shooterdetectionsystems.com/, call 1-844-SHOT911, and follow on Twitter @shooterdetect.

About Mutualink, Inc.

Mutualink, Inc. strengthens communities by enabling seamless communications with an interoperable communications platform. Consistent multimedia sharing of radio, voice, text, video, and data communications builds relationships between public and private partners in a secure environment. Mutualink’s system is deployed by entities worldwide, including for homeland security, police and fire departments, schools and universities, transit authorities, hospitals, utilities, shopping malls, and casinos. Mutualink is  by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology (QATT). Mutualink is a privately-held company headquartered in Wallingford, CT, with R&D facilities in Westford, MA, Mayagüez, PR and Allen, TX. For more information visit https://www.mutualink.net.

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The Leadership Effect

Editor's Note: For readability we will use "leader" to refer to an individual leader or leadership group.

By Mark Anderko

“The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the leader adjusts the sails"                       - John Maxwell

A leader in an organization has tremendous effect on the outcome of any project.  A leader identifies operational gaps within the organization and then implements solutions to bridge those gaps.  The process begins with the identification of the gap then moves to prioritizing that solution, ensuring procurement through sustainability.  The leader must understand the profound continuous role of the leader in the delivery on the strategic vision that has been put into motion. This is especially true when the solution introduces technology platforms that will aid in operational effectiveness and efficiency.

The integration of technology into the operational world that will aid in the development of enhanced situational awareness throughout the organizational structure and amongst its peers is a continuum from procurement to training. In this way, the organization can use the solution not only in dark sky events but also  in day to day operations.  The messaging of the solution must remain constant and consistent throughout all levels with the organization, as well as peer organizations, in order to achieve a successful outcome. It ultimately becomes part of culture and operational fabric of the organization.

This is easy to say but hard to accomplish.  For this reason we see encounter challenges in achieving operational success stories. Sometimes technology purchases fail to be sustained. With that in mind, the question remains: how do we as leaders deliver organizational success stories regarding the implementation and operationalization of technology solutions?

The answer and action are quite simple.

The success recipe deals with two C’s: Commitment and Consistency

Commitment: Leaders begin with the end in mind. They commit to relentlessly telling the story of why it is important and why the solution must remain a priority in the operational environment.

Consistency:  Leaders share the vision and the plan using the many management tools we have all learned about regarding the training on the solution.

Develop Organizational K.S.A.’s – Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities of the operators along with creativity.

Develop a Goal and achieve the goal (end state) through objectives that are S.M.A.R.T. (Simple, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time Bound). Allow the benchmarking technique to measure organizational growth using the solution.

When putting solutions into motion, leaders of all organizations must commit to their roles. They must understand the skills necessary to navigate the command climate (Communication Skills, Clear Priorities, and Clear Expectations) to deliver on solutions that are sustainable. In this way, they create those operational success stories.

“Be the yardstick of quality some people aren’t used to in an environment where excellence is expected”
- Steve Jobs

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 Anderko served as an adjunct instructor for undergraduate and graduate-level courses in Police Science and Emergency and Disaster Management.  Mark is the Sr. Director of Program Operations for Mutualink.

Mutualink strengthens communities and relationships by enabling seamless operational communications.  Mutualink’s hardware and software provides consistent, high quality interoperability. The company 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, when FEMA presented the National Incident Management System (NIMS) for all hazards response.

"An Uncommon Commitment to Boundless Connections"

Blog #2 – Practice, Practice, and Practice

By: Mark Anderko - Sr. Director of Program Operations for Mutualink Inc.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  The answer: Practice, Practice, Practice.  This phrase is defined by an emphatic guidance on the role of practice (training) to learn a desired skill set.

Emphatic: Showing or giving emphasis, expressing something formally and clearly

Skill:  The ability to do something well; competence, mastery, expertise

How do we get there? Development of Program Operations and Routines that build confidence

Athletes, entrepreneurs, public speakers and actors all realize the importance of self-confidence. Lack of confidence can impede us from achieving our peak performance. But self-confidence can help us overcome obstacles and pursue and use the skills we own. As a result, we succeed.

Development of a solid training and operationalization program

Training is essential to ensure that everyone knows what to do when there is an emergency or disruption of business operations. Everyone needs training to become familiar with protective actions, programs, tools and technology platforms that are designed to enhance capabilities. With training, we reduce the time of the response event.

Growth through Functional Training:  Functional Training drives actions to be performed.   These driven actions assist the operator and the agency’s development.   The use of controlled functional training events creates confidence and competency.

End Game:  An Agency and the Operator can confidently apply the use of tools and acquired skill sets to the changing the dynamics of real world events so that they can bring quick resolution to the crisis at hand.

Everyday is a Training Day

So how do we get to Carnegie Hall?  The answer: Practice, Practice, Practice.

Mark Anderko, Mutualink's Sr. Director of Program Operations, 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.

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 products empower agencies to interoperate and communicate. The company connects radio, phone, video, text and data among thousands of customers on the network. The solution grew out of needs identified after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when FEMA presented the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Teachers use app to give active shooter alerts in Central Florida

By: Lauren Seabrook , James Tutte from WFTV 9 ABC Orlando

Updated: 

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Many teachers around Central Florida now have the power in the palm of their hands to to dispatch hundreds of first responders for an active shooter, through an app.

The Parkland Safety Commission wants all school districts to give law enforcement agencies live access to their security cameras.


The American Civil Liberties Union worries it would violate privacy laws, but the app gets around that.

Brevard, Osceola, Lake and Sumter counties are all now using this emergency system. But Seminole County was first to deploy it three years ago, long before the mass shooting in Parkland.

And after the Parkland shooting, leaders from about a dozen school districts are looking for advice on it.

It costs about $3,000 to set up a school with the service, officials said. And that adds up when you're talking about connecting every school.

But Seminole County safety leaders said you can't put a price on saving lives.

During the Parkland school shooting, law enforcement agencies tried to track the gunman's path on school cameras. But the cameras were on a 20-minute delay.

Other districts don't want to deal with the same issue.

Seminole County public schools uses Mutualink.

"It's a panic button," said Capt. Rick Francis, school safety director with Seminole County Public Schools. “And it gives each teacher the ability to report an active shooter from their smartphone.”

When users hold a button for a second and a half, it instantly notifies hundreds of people at the sheriff's office, local police department, 911 communications and fire rescue.

First responders then have protected live access to the school's cameras and uses GPS to send an Amber-type alert to all officers who may be patrolling nearby.

The service also features a silent mode that signals all teachers at the school to lock down their classrooms.

"When these come in, we already know who's calling. We know where they're at, and we know what emergency they're declaring already," said Francis.

This will save precious time when you consider most school shootings, including Parkland, are over in less than four minutes.

At Seminole’s district command center, officers can send screenshots of the shooter or floor plans of the school to first responders.

Francis said the active shooter button only triggers a massive response if a teacher is within the school's geofence.

The safety director can also send video clips of a victim who has been shot straight to the doctor who may be operating on the victim.

The ACLU said it is on board with this, because as soon as the event is over, live access to cameras goes away.

Introduction – the game of dots

By: Mark Anderko, Sr. Director of Program Operations for Mutualink Inc.

Have you ever played the game of Dots? The objective of the game is to connect dots along horizontal and vertical lines. The game seems simple. But add in a time constraint and it causes your brain to process changes to the environment; this action induces stress. And the game does not automatically match like dots, so the player must make the connections. As you connect the dots, you can group like dots together to assist in your quest to navigate the game.

In the end it pays for the player to keep on playing. The player learns and develops an improved skill set. Success in the game increases. The player receives recognition from peers because the game connects to Twitter and Facebook. Players see how their peers are performing in comparison to themselves.

Building Blocks for Success

In today’s world of preparedness and response planning, lines of communication and situational awareness often become blurred or disconnected. These symptoms of an event often lead to stress-induced decisions. Stress induced actions may or may not take in all the information necessary to make an educated, informed decision.  Unlike the game of Dots, these real-world miscues result not only in disappointment but can contribute to life safety issues, organizational scrutiny and embarrassment. Liability issues may arise.

This blog will be dedicated to the Who, What, Where, How, and Why it is necessary to put solutions in place that assist you in navigating challenges and educating personnel on the importance of the solution. The delivery of frequent training will provide competency and confidence to those tasked with the solution. This blog will also address the importance of relationships and connections between parties.   Relationships are created and developed by identifying the commonality of purpose and the notion that “we can’t go it alone”.

Last, but not least, it will review organizational strengths and weaknesses as it applies to preparedness and response planning and the importance that gap analysis plays in the resiliency and ability to respond in the most chaotic environments. In the coming months, I will present use cases that will show the impact of a properly onboarded and operationalized solution.  I will also discuss and break down real-world situations and the impacts they have on our preparedness and response community. Take a lesson from the game of Dots.

Next Blog:  New Year’s Eve 2018 / 2019 Multi-State Situational Awareness Event

How scheduled events improve agency abilities to share information in real-world events.

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 the Sr. Director of Program Operations 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 to interoperate and communicate. The company connects radio, phone, video, text and data among thousands of global customers on the network. The solution grew out of needs identified after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when FEMA presented the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Brevard Public Schools Implement Instant Emergency Communications System with First Responders

2018 marks year of both tragedy and progress in Florida school safety

WALLINGFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Brevard County, Florida, joined six additional Florida counties using Mutualink’s instant emergency communications coordination platform to enhance school safety readiness and response. On December 11, 2018, Brevard County School Board authorized the implementation of Mutualink in all of Brevard County’s public schools. The system addresses many of the communications coordination problems and delays repeatedly identified in school shooting incident after action reports around the nation, including in Florida. Brevard Public Schools, the 49th largest district in the U.S. and the 10th largest district in Florida, is the latest to adopt real-time instant coordination between schools and law enforcement. Brevard joins numerous school districts and universities across the nation adopting Mutualink's instant crisis response and coordination technology.

Within Florida, a state gravely impacted by the Parkland school shooting tragedy, Brevard joins a growing movement of Florida counties leading efforts to implement instant cross-agency emergency communications and information sharing capabilities to make schools safer and enable coordinated response. Through the technology, schools are instantly connected to public safety the moment a crisis starts, providing emergency voice communications between school personnel and police as well as real-time video sharing from school CCTV. Additionally, other responding agencies can be linked together to communicate and see information even if they have different radio and video systems. The ability to instantly communicate, see what is happening and allow for coordinated collaboration eliminates many of the problems identified in school shooting after action reports that cite delayed and ineffective response efforts. Orange and Seminole Counties led this school safety communications initiative when they assessed school emergency response readiness, deficiency reports from other incidents and recognized the necessity of enabling instant communications and coordination between the Sheriff’s Office and their schools.

“This year the nation witnessed an increased number of tragic incidents in our schools; Florida responded by actively seeking innovative solutions to support school security,” said Mark Hatten, founder and CEO of Mutualink. “We’re proud to have the opportunity to properly equip schools across the state with an essential life safety capability that should be further adopted across the country. Significant investments have been made in hardening schools to stop threats, but they are not 100% effective. When something does go wrong, the single most crucial capability in stopping a tragedy is the ability to instantly reach first responders, and for public safety to know the who, what and where to rapidly respond without hesitation or confusion.” According to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, there have been at least 89 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2018 alone, with over 2,700 child and teen fatalities and nearly 14,500 more injured. What’s more, around 3 million American children are exposed to shootings every year. Mutualink’s interoperable communications technology provides FERPA-compliant real-time communication via shared radio, voice, text, video, and data between schools and first responders to reduce time to incident resolution.

“The inability for first responders to effectively communicate with schools and other partner agencies during emergencies has been found to be a major contributor to the impairment of swift action,” continued Hatten. “We anticipate that adoption of interoperable communications technology will increase as we move into 2019 and school administrators create closer partnerships with law enforcement. From lessons learned, this type of capability is a critical safety feature for any school. It’s not a nice to have. It is a must have.”

Mutualink’s interoperability network works to keep citizens safe across Florida. State, county and local law enforcement, education, hospital, transportation and enterprise security organizations use the platform to collaborate, including:

(Atlantic City) - The Atlantic City Police Department says it has been getting ready for the upsurge in economic activity the city has seen that included the opening of two new casinos this past summer.

Deputy Police Chief James Sarkos said that unfortunately, the 22 percent uptick in economic activity this past summer from two new casino openings brought with it more opportunities for criminal activity.

"We try to stay one step ahead of that by utilizing technology, to allow us to be more efficient and effective," he said.

One of the many innovations is a 24/7 surveillance center staffed by retired officers who monitor video cameras all over the city.

"Some of these cameras are owned by the Atlantic City Police Department. But most of the cameras are privately-owned, with businesses that have allowed us remote access into their camera system," Sarkos said.

The system is called PACT, which Sarkos said stands for "Protecting Atlantic City Together."

In addition to PACT, the department also uses a system called Mutualink, which he described as a video sharing platform. The system allows the sharing of various types of files including data files, radio transmissions and telephone conversations. Every casino in Atlantic City has Mutualink.

"If something were to occur, we can push that information out to all of the casinos in real time," Sarkos said.

For the past couple of years, Atlantic City police have been also using ShotSpotter, a system that can detect gunfire anywhere in town, even before someone calls it in. And police have just recently started using something called CrimeMapping.com, to allow citizens and visitors to see where local crimes are being committed.

"Atlantic City has its best days ahead of it. I think that we have seen a big return to the crowds that we used to see," Sarkos said.

Moving forward, Sarkos said that continued growth is inextricably linked to a safer city.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

Mutualink Supports Operation Convergent Response with Enhanced Interoperability Technology

Company will demonstrate interoperable communications during the interstate pile-up scenario at the Guardian Centers in Perry, GA November 5 – 8, 2018 during #OCR2018

Operation Convergent Response, #OCR2018, brings technology solutions to first responders applying existing capabilities in new ways under extreme conditions. Nokia and Verizon host the event. The scenarios provide communications tools for public safety agencies to gain a fresh way of tackling future problems.

Interoperable communications enables first responders to connect with partner agencies in a mutual aid event. A traffic pile-up on the highway may call for responders from state, county and local agencies. In such a case, a single command center controls communications. But first responder safety improves by bridging radio (LMR) and push-to-talk conversations. Typically, only the originating agency would hear these exchanges. This results in more expedient resolution, as observers will see at #OCR2018.

At Operation Convergent Response, Mutualink’s interoperability platform will bridge LMR and push-to-talk group communications from a variety of makes and models to resolve an interstate pile-up caused by inclement weather. In the scenario, Persistent Systems MPU5 radios enable a high-speed communication network across an aerostat at four hundred feet for connectivity compromised by the storm.

Mutualink will also integrate with other interoperability systems to bring all communications onto a common platform. Improved situational awareness through Mutualink’s IWS will be managed through the Command Center. Tabletop demonstrations will take place throughout the #OCR2018 event in the Solutions Showcase Tech Expo November 5 – 8.

Kevin Thompson, Mutualink’s VP Government Sales said, “Fast resolution of complex issues depends on optimal communications, which can ultimately save lives. Mutualink’s partnership with Verizon and others committed to first responder success enables us to be on the cutting edge of public safety communications. And we look forward to joining our partners at Operation Convergent Response.”

10/22/2018

Valerie Amato, EMT

When a mass casualty incident (MCI) occurs and requires mutual aid, efficient interagency communication is crucial to ensure operations go smoothly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Differing radio systems from multiple jurisdictions can cause a frenzy of communications between first responders via multiple radios and cell phones. This disorganization can make an already-complicated incident messier and harder to manage. To help allay the stress associated with this issue, Mutualink, Inc. developed a system that provides dependable interagency communications and secure data-sharing capabilities.

“Mutualink is specifically designed to facilitate the sharing of information between multiple public safety agencies and allows for shared situational awareness,” says Joe Boucher, chief technology officer of Mutualink. Boucher is also a former EMT and firefighter, a key reason he got involved with the company: “I really understood how the technologies I was familiar with could be applied to the public safety space because I knew some of the needs firsthand. That’s been very valuable in creating this product.”

Boucher says the 9/11 attacks highlighted the lacking capabilities of first responder agencies to safely and reliably share information during critical incidents, and many other agencies’ after-action reports cite poor communication among their biggest hurdles. This consistent obstacle in public safety inspired the creation of Mutualink, Inc. circa 2006. Its platform features push-to-talk voice communication, live video, and instant data-sharing that multiple agencies can utilize simultaneously by connecting all their radio systems, including phone and PA systems. It also connects the agencies to their dispatchers and municipal, state, and even federal EOCs (the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense regularly employ the Mutualink system in their operations). Agencies can access these components via smartphone, tablet, or PC.

Improving Interagency Communications

Boucher says responders are beginning to understand why video interoperability is so advantageous during an incident. During large events, aerial assets such as helicopters and drones provide a helpful overhead view of the scene through a video feed, but this feed is limited in its availability. An incident commander from the state police can view the video from his department’s helicopter on his laptop, but everyone else is in the dark until the information is relayed to all agencies. Mutualink can make that feed available to everyone simultaneously to prevent a delayed delivery of critical information.

Another advantage is the location-sharing capability. A loss of situational awareness is often caused in part by an incident commander not knowing where their crews are located, says Boucher. Agencies with smartphones, LMR radios, and location TPS capabilities can have their personnel brought into view for incident commanders to keep track of.

“The combination of voice interoperability, video interoperability, and location sharing has proven invaluable for agencies who have been using this in a number of real-world environments,” says Boucher.

If those features weren’t enough, the Mutualink platform also boasts texting and file-sharing capabilities, the latter of which can be useful in incidents like school shootings, when a school can instantly share live video and floor plans with responding agencies so crews know exactly where they need to go.

“Between floor plans and video feeds, it can greatly enhance their response capabilities. There have been a number of school safety drills that have shown a marked decrease in response time or time to resolution of the event by using those capabilities,” Boucher says.

EMS providers can also utilize the file-sharing feature to send patient data to receiving hospitals during patient transport, including live video to correspond with an ER triage nurse or doctor, for example, acting as a telemedicine platform.

“We can bridge all this together, and you can keep using your existing applications. That’s pretty critical to what we call enabling ubiquitous interoperability, because you can’t have ubiquitous interoperability unless you can connect everybody together,” says Boucher.

Prioritizing Safety

Mutualink also improves the safety of first responders and their operations. Video feeds are especially beneficial to safety during fires; for example, firefighters scattered around a building can use their smartphones to see a live overhead view of the scene, helping them assess where they are in or around a structure and make better assessments of their surroundings.

Reliability is another key pillar of Mutualink. The platform isn’t entirely cloud-based, so agencies don’t have to worry about losing local usability like they would with other interoperability platforms if the cloud can’t be accessed. With the most stringent industry practices and standards engineered into all products to support DHS and DoD clients, Mutualink provides all public safety agencies with a platform that can be trusted.

“Security is one of our fundamental tenets for the design of our system because […] security is of paramount importance” when multiple agencies are communicating sensitive information, Boucher says. “Everything in our system is fully encrypted and mutually authenticated.”

Mutualink has contributed to the successful operations of many well-known events, such as the Miracle on the Hudson, when it was employed by the Jersey City (N.J.) EOC and northern New Jersey hospitals; President Barack Obama’s first inauguration (the system was installed at the Pentagon, National Mall, and Metro Transit PD in Washington, D.C.); multiple Super Bowls; the Boston Marathon (post-2013 bombing); wildfires; and Hurricane Sandy, when New Jersey and New York law enforcement agencies received live video from Atlantic City hospitals and casinos on the shoreline to help them maintain situational awareness.

Boucher encourages public safety agencies to implement the Mutualink system, as he finds they often discover their established MCI communication plans only work to the extent they planned for. “Any event beyond a certain size, all hell breaks loose,” he notes. “They realize their plans are really not adequate for the size of what’s occurring.”

He says, unfortunately, agencies that deal with school shootings often report this problem in their after-action reports because they weren’t able to simulate and train for the volume of responders that arrived on scene.

“One of their [incident commanders’] base difficulties is actually managing the first responders because they’re responding from all kinds of different agencies,” Boucher says. “Generally, their plans are good for a certain scale, and beyond that it’s unmanageable. That’s one of the things we try to solve with our system.”

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