Lessons Learned from Global Attacks: FirstNet

Terrorist attacks across the globe, and particularly here in the United States, present a huge opportunity for the nation to learn how to improve communication and information sharing in times of crisis.

These lessons learned can be particularly helpful to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) in developing and deploying the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), according to a new white paper released by interoperable communications provider Mutualink.

“When terror strikes, an effective emergency response requires massive cooperation and information sharing among law enforcement agencies and federal, state and local agencies to eliminate the threat and minimize causalities. As FirstNet continues to move closer to nationwide implementation, let’s not squander the opportunity to learn from the tragedies that have preceded it,” the paper stated

The white paper explained that one of the greatest challenges facing first responders in large-scale emergency situations is a lack of communication systems interoperability. Following the tragic September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission identified this as a major obstacle to emergency response.

Thirteen years after 9/11, communication interoperability issues again hindered a large-scale emergency situation. During the 2012 Aurora, Colorado Theater shooting, a breakdown in communications between police and fire commanders led to a failure to assess the level of risk in the theater.

As Homeland Security Today previously reported, an after-action reported commissioned by the city of Aurora revealed that the lack of a unified, joint police-fire command during the first hour of the incident, and failure to effectively use available radio systems—whether from failure to do so or because they did not know how— led to difficulties in communication between the police and fire departments.

The report noted that communication between FirstNet and non-FirstNet agencies—including schools, mass transit, and utilities— is imperative in emergencies. Consequently, the report stated, “The collaboration capability must be core to the FirstNet architecture and include network, device and agency interoperability.”

Another major problem identified by Mutualink’s report is overcrowded cellular networks. Both unplanned emergencies and mass gatherings, such as sporting events, can overload the cellular infrastructure, leading to “poor data transmission, dropped and incomplete calls.”

For example, communication issues significantly hindered the response to the March 2016 attacks in Brussels. Police reportedly used the WhatsApp Messenger to communicate with one another after ASTRID, Belgium’s public-safety network provider, experienced “network saturation.”

One of the reasons behind FirstNet’s deployment of a dedicated high-speed broadband network is to overcome the issue of overcrowded cellular networks. Deployable networks using Systems on Wheels (SOWs) and Cells on Wheels (COWs) are currently being tested for situations requiring additional bandwidth, such as for video sharing.

“Deployed SOWs and COWs are highly resilient and able to access the network through satellite and/or microwave, even when cell tower infrastructure is compromised. This addresses the needs of rural areas, as well as natural disaster situations or terrorist infrastructure attacks,” the report stated.

Real-time video sharing can make or break an investigation into a terrorist attack or other emergency situation. Mutualink, citing a report from Defense One, noted that video imagery taken from a person near the scene of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris ended up being one of the most crucial pieces of evidence.

“One of the most anticipated capabilities of FirstNet is the ability to video conference and share video feeds within and between agencies,” the reported stated.

Furthermore, silos, which the report describes as “any system that is unable to operate with any other system,” help maintain agency sovereignty over their assets and resources, but can also be a major hindrance to interagency collaboration.

Mutualink recommended that FirstNet overcome this challenge by selectively bridging siloes so that first responders have access to critical information while enabling security for all parties through access control and encryption.

“As FirstNet continues to move closer to nationwide implementation, let’s not squander the opportunity to learn from the tragedies that have preceded it. The safety and security of our nation is at stake, and we have the power – and the tools and technologies – to make a difference,” the report concluded.

from Homeland Security Today

By: Amanda Vicinanzo, Online Managing Editor

Mutualink Use in New Jersey

Atlantic City, NJ was host to a 70.3 mile Ironman Triathlon swim-bike-run event on Sunday Sept 18, culminating in a 13 mile run along the world famous boardwalk. The event occurred on the day after an improvised explosive device was detonated in nearby Seaside Park, NJ and then another explosion in New York City.

Immediately following these attacks, New Jersey law enforcement officials recognized the vulnerability to race participants and spectators and set in motion an enhanced security plan that involved the cooperation of Federal, State, and Local first responders and the vast video surveillance resources of the Atlantic City Casino Industry. By late Saturday evening, the New Jersey State Police established a collaborative network connection with all of its local community partners using Mutualink, the only nationwide communications platform that allows public and private entities to share their radio, telephone and closed circuit television systems in a secure, invitation-only environment. Incident Command Personnel had instant access to thousands of surveillance cameras that covered a substantial percentage of the race route, giving first responders realtime information on suspicious individuals or packages.

Patching radio communications

Additionally, the dissimilar radio systems commonly used by government and private sector partners were seamlessly patched together, allowing state troopers to have direct voice communications with private security officers throughout the race. Atlantic City Police and NJ State Troopers were also able to view live video and conduct simultaneous radio communications via handheld smart phones utilizing Mutualink technology.

The use of Mutualink Interoperable technology is not new to New Jersey first responders and their private community partners. Det. Capt. James Sarkos of the Atlantic City Police Department said, “In Atlantic City, Mutualink is the de facto method of communication, part of our SOPs, so when we need to share information with other agencies or jurisdictions, the technology is already in place and used regularly.” Mutualink was successfully used to provide enhanced security during the Miss America Contest and Boardwalk Parade the previous week. Law Enforcement officials cited several instances where Mutualink was used to intercept several persons of interest and packages during the crowded event, thanks to the keen observational skills of security officers within the casino industry, who instantly shared their resources with the Incident Command Post.

Submitted by Jeff Doran | Captain, Brigantine, NJ Police Ret. | Mutualink Sr. Project Manager

Advances in Interoperability

Security for Super Bowl 50 provided a unique security challenge. Two densely populated cities, thousands of first responders from dozens of local, county, regional, state and federal agencies, and private-sector emergency management professionals were all involved with the unprecedented security operation.

Super Bowl 50, held earlier this year in Santa Clara, Calif., is a real-world example of exemplary public safety planning and training. Success came, in part, as a result of identifying key players and implementing innovative technologies.

When operationalized, information sharing and situational awareness are beneficial factors for a coordinated response to a terrorist attack or similar emergency situation. Using Super Bowl 50 as an example, this article presents the critical planning steps needed to prepare for an event of this scale, including identifying the key players and technology resources necessary to orchestrate a large special event (LSE), and how to overcome the challenges associated with each step.

Setting Up for Success

Almost as important as the event itself, the planning stages lay the foundation for successful information sharing and situational awareness for LSE security operations. The more prepared all involved agencies are, the better they are able to handle situations, respond to threats, and provide insights for future events.

Supporting the effort in the planning stages was the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), representing 12 counties and three core cities with a combined total population exceeding 8.2 million people. In support of local planning and preparation, the Bay Area UASI developed the Bay Area Large Special Events Planning Guide and Concept of Operations (CONOPS) Template. The goal of this template was to standardize preparations and support jurisdictional coordination during Super Bowl 50 and all other LSEs in the Bay Area.

Many agencies and jurisdictions involved in Super Bowl 50 leaned heavily on this template to maximize security and response efforts before, during, and after the Super Bowl. The region drew on past experiences, including Pride Day parades, celebrity visits, sold-out concerts, and other major sporting events, to operationalize a plan for Super Bowl 50.

Interoperability for the Super Bowl

Prior to Super Bowl 50, Bay Area UASI Regional Project Manager Corey Reynolds, who manages interoperable communications investments and spent game day in the San Francisco Emergency Operations Center (EOC), conducted a focus group with new and existing technology users across the region to test and get comfortable with using the situational awareness technology implemented for the event. The training sessions also provided users with the opportunity to troubleshoot problems and challenges that occurred and determine the best ways to solve them in real time.

“This was the first time all these existing technologies were used in conjunction with each other for such a massive regional event,” Reynolds said. “The focus group was an opportunity for all the participating agencies to share best practices and understand and coordinate on the use of technology before the event.”

Urban Shield s a Training Ground

In addition to the Bay Area UASI focus group, preparation also came in the form of Urban Shield, an annual, three-day intensive training exercise for law enforcement and emergency response agencies. Urban Shield is a full-scale regional exercise that assesses the Bay Area region’s response capabilities related to planning, policy, procedures, organization, equipment and training.

The exercise tests the region’s integrated systems for prevention, protection, response and recovery in the high-threat, high-density urban area. In addition to identifying what the area does well, the exercise also exposes matters that need improvement. Yellow Command 2015, the emergency management component of Urban Shield, was held prior to Super Bowl 50 and provided participants the opportunity to practice information sharing and situational awareness through simulated terrorist situations.

Urban Shield, the UASI focus group and the CONOPS template allowed agencies to standardize best practices and avoid duplicative efforts in the Bay Area when preparing for an LSE. This planning phase also allowed participants to uncover what challenges they may face and provided them an opportunity to work through overcoming those challenges. A critical factor leading up to any LSE is the opportunity for participating agencies to start developing relationships with the other agencies involved. Using the systems for an LSE and through day-to-day use, agencies opened the door for multi-city and multi-jurisdictional collaboration.

What Needs to Be Shared?

When preparing for an LSE, relationships are paramount. In addition to local law enforcement and fire personnel, EOC managers, incident commanders, and other state and federal agencies need to be deeply involved in the planning phase. Since Super Bowl 50 events were taking place in two locations 50 miles apart, new communications challenges were introduced and it was clear that many more agencies beyond local law enforcement and fire departments would need to participate and collaborate.

One of the critical key players involved with Super Bowl 50 was the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC). The NCRIC, in cooperation with law enforcement, provides comprehensive intelligence products that give public safety officials a vital regional picture of trends and patterns related to terrorist operations and other criminal activities. The NCRIC also provides training to public and private member agencies. Far beyond helping protect the community, the NCRIC helps its members prepare for terrorism incidents in order to protect critical infrastructure.

Critical infrastructure

Hospitals, utilities and public transportation are examples of critical infrastructure which is the backbone of the United States economy, and the vitality of these resources is congruent with the health and wealth of the nation. These resources are mostly privately owned, but having the opportunity to bring these resources into the communications plan before the event was critical for LSE security.

After the power outage at Super Bowl 49, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) was brought into the planning stages for Super Bowl 50 and agreed to share video with other participating agencies. The relationship established with PG&E prior to the actual event made the communications resource sharing smooth and streamlined during the pre-game events and on game day.

Another critical resource involved with information sharing and situational awareness at Super Bowl 50 was the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which was able to share messaging boards, traffic flow, and surveillance cameras. With massive amounts of people moving between multiple locations in the San Francisco and Santa Clara areas, the ability to share information between Caltrans and the EOCs was highly beneficial for all parties involved.

Real-Time Information Sharing

Three existing technology systems were identified during the planning phase and used during Super Bowl 50 to maximize the benefits of information sharing and situational awareness. The first, Mutualink, is a real-time interoperable communications platform used to improve collaboration and coordination between multiple agencies using disparate communications systems.

The technology was deployed in mobile Go Kits as well as in the EOCs, dispatch centers, and command posts to share live video from the playing field and other locations. Mutualink allows local, state, federal, and private agencies to share critical information—such as voice, video, text, and data files—over a secure network, while remaining in control of their own resources. The strategic deployment of the Mutualink Go Kits allowed the folks on the ground to share video situational awareness, and other important information directly back to dispatch, the EOC, and the command post.

Web EOC

Web EOC was also used during the event as an incident management capability to support the mission of crisis management for public safety and emergency personnel. The system provides access to information and promotes sharing and situational awareness between local organizations and the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES).

The California Common Operation Picture (Cal COP) was used for enhanced threat awareness and is a cloud-based data sharing platform available to all Bay Area UASI public safety agencies. Cal COP leverages local and regional threat management and critical infrastructure assessments to create a common threat awareness picture allowing agencies to more effectively and efficiently understand the threat landscape across public safety disciplines, agencies, and jurisdictional boundaries.

With an effort led by David Frazer, the Statewide Cal COP Manager, who has experience working at all California UASI locations, Cal COP was integrated into Web EOC allowing all agencies to receive information from the ground up, and get the actionable data quickly into the hands of core decision makers. These technologies combined provided a valuable stream of data during the event.

Mutualink, Web EOC, and Cal COP

The platforms operated as complementary technologies, working side-by-side or ‘stacked’ for seamless information sharing and improved situational awareness. These systems allowed for information to be quickly shared and analyzed by the right people at the right time by breaking data silos and opening the boundaries between all participating agencies.

“If you silo yourself into limited information sharing networks and cut people off, the situational awareness itself doesn’t work,” Frazer said. “With more than 650 state and federal users, these technologies allowed us to open the communications and provide access to everyone, including the private entities at the EOCs.”

Super Bowl 50 information sharing and situational awareness efforts were successful because of the thoughtful planning that took place far in advance of the event, and judicious use of available technologies to facilitate shared communication. Throughout the planning cycle, key players were identified, and during training exercises, agencies were able to build solid relationships with each other that proved to be beneficial for communications sharing before, during, and after the big game.

These strategies could be implemented across the globe for any large special event to enhance collaboration and coordination between multiple agencies to prepare for—and defend against—any possible emergency incidents. With the large amounts of data available to all participating agencies, and the alignment of technology use, the event was a huge success. This success can be attributed directly back to the planning and relationship building before the event.

Written by Craig Dziedzic and Rob Wright

Rob Wright is the Business Development Director with Mutualink and Craig Dziedzic is the General Manager of the Bay Area UASI.

Published in Law and Order, Sep 2016

Homeland Preparedness

Monday, September 19, 2016 by Tracy Rozens

More than 100 first responders gathered in New York this week for the state’s largest emergency response training exercise featuring realistic scenarios inspired by terrorist threats in the United States and abroad and utilizing the newest communications technology for law enforcement.

The Excelsior Challenge took place over three days at the 700-acre State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, N.Y. Bomb squads, canine handlers, tactical team officers and emergency medical services took part in scenario-based exercises similar to terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels and Dallas.

“We’re constantly seeing what’s happening around the world and we tailor our training courses and events for those types of real-world events,” Bob Stallman, assistant director at the New York State Preparedness Training Center, told Homeland Preparedness News.

Stallman noted that the threat of terrorism has evolved in recent years, and to keep up with that challenge, training scenarios are constantly being evaluated and improved by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), which operates the center.

“We’re still concerned about all the things that we were concerned about five to 10 years ago,” Stallman said. “But now we have the addition of smaller-scale, lone wolf-inspired attacks. They use small arms fire and homemade explosive devices.”

One training scenario simulated an attack on a large gathering of people in an open space, similar to the attack in Dallas. Another training activity was based on the San Bernardino terrorist attack in an office complex. An attack on a mass transit bus station was also simulated.

For the first time, this year’s training program incorporated the state’s new online electronic system that connects every county across New York to aid in disaster response and recovery. The system, NY Responds, allows county emergency management agencies to connect with the New York State Emergency Operations Center in Albany to improve coordination and cooperation during disasters and emergencies.

As part of NY Responds, counties have access to new technology known as Mutualink, which improves interoperability by integrating telephone, radio, video and file-sharing into one application to allow local emergency staff to share real-time information with the state and other counties.

During the Excelsior Challenge, video and audio of the training scenarios were live-streamed to users through Mutualink. In an actual emergency, video can be streamed live to an emergency operation center, where managers can see what is happening on the ground and make decisions on how best to deploy personnel and equipment.

“That’s all real-time, live as it is happening,” Stallman said. “And that is a game changer.”

Also new this year were scenarios that gave EMS personnel an opportunity to integrate their response efforts with law enforcement – an important element.

“Nothing is more critical, especially when you are talking about an active shooter situation with small arms fire and gun shot wounds, where if victims don’t get the medical attention they require within a very short period of time, they aren’t going to survive,” Stallman said.

This year’s exercise included students from SUNY Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, a first-of-its-kind program in the United States.

“There was such demand from students to come out here. These are all students getting into this field. Many of them will be commanders or managers,” Stallman said, noting the importance of getting students out of the classroom for hands-on training.

The students received briefings on the exercise from DHSES, learned how DHSES supports law enforcement specialty teams, and listened to experts discuss the current threat environment.

Mutualink K12 Integration with Rave Panic Button

Enable Instantaneous Communications and Data Sharing During Emergency Situations; Joint Solution Will Save Lives by Cutting Incident Resolution Time in Half

Wallingford, CT., April 6, 2016 – Two leading public safety technology innovators, Mutualink and Rave Mobile Safety, have partnered to enable faster real-time communication and information sharing with first responders during an emergency. The companies have integrated their advanced communication technologies – Rave Panic Button and Mutualink K12 – into one effective, easy-to-use system. The communications platform is ideal for K-12 schools, colleges and universities, as well as hospitals, municipal buildings, retail and entertainment venues, and corporate campuses.

New_K12_Equipment_with_Rave-smThe combined solution instantly links onsite personnel directly with police, fire, and EMS during emergency situations. For the first time, the parties can now share critical information in real time – including push-to-talk radio, public address/intercom communications, live video streaming, and floor plans of the facility. This enables first responders to gain greater levels of transparency into an emergency situation before entering, as well as have radio interoperability with the onsite radio system, regardless of type. This increased situational awareness results in a faster, better informed, more precise and effective emergency response.

“Mutualink’s interoperable communication platform combined with Rave Panic Button takes incident collaboration to a whole new level.” said Tom Axbey, president and CEO of Rave Mobile Safety. “We are thrilled to offer a joint solution that will drastically improve response times and enhance collaboration with responders for schools and other critical infrastructure assets.”

Numerous studies conclude that during active shooter incidents, time is a critical factor in response tactics: the shortest response time saves lives. In multiple school safety drills, Mutualink’s K12 technology has reduced time to incident resolution by 40-50 percent. Additionally, Rave Panic Button activations have been field proven across the country to drastically reduce response times in both active assailant and medical emergencies, while providing responders with greater intelligence into the situation.

How Does It Work During an Emergency?

During a school emergency, seconds matter – and saving even a precious few minutes during an ongoing threat saves lives,” said Mark Hatten, CEO of Mutualink. “By collaborating with Rave Mobile Safety, we're providing an all-in-one technology solution that speeds response time and improves school safety – giving teachers, staff, students and parents much-needed peace of mind and first instantaneous responders real-time actionable intelligence.”

About Mutualink

Mutualink, Inc. has developed 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 currently deployed by hundreds of public and private entities worldwide, including homeland security and defense installations, NATO Special Operations Forces, police and fire departments, transit authorities, hospitals, schools, universities, shopping malls, casinos, and more. Mutualink’s technology is on the “Approved Products List” for both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Defense. Mutualink is a privately-held company headquartered in Wallingford, Conn., with R&D facilities in Westford, Mass., Allen, Texas and Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and Defense Services office near Washington, DC. For more information please visit www.mutualink.net.

About Rave Mobile Safety 

Rave Mobile Safety is the most trusted safety software partner, providing innovative communication software for better emergency preparedness and faster response. Used by leading education institutes, enterprises and state and local public safety agencies, the award-winning portfolio of Rave Alert, Rave Guardian, Eyewitness, Rave Panic Button, Smart911 and SmartPrepare protects millions of individuals. Rave Mobile Safety is headquartered in Framingham, Mass. For more information, please visit http://www.ravemobilesafety.com/.

Media Contacts:

Jenna Beaucage for Mutualink
Rainier Communications
508-475-0025 x124
Mutualink@rainierco.com

JaeMi Pennington
LEWIS Global Communications
Public Relations for Rave Mobile Safety
pr@ravemobilesafety.com
(781) 418-2401

As Mutualink executives go to the air on their way to our industry’s annual conference, those of us in the office are filled with anticipation. What will they learn? What will they see? What new opportunity is waiting?

Parallel Wireless and IP Access, two of our industry partners, have graciously invited Mutualink to share their booth space, and will be hosting live Mutualink demonstrations throughout the show later this week. In addition, Parallel Wireless is sponsoring a drawing to win a week’s rental of their new Band-14-in-a-Box DIY public safety LTE kit, complete with Mutualink inside for on-the-go interoperability. Enter in their booth (227) or online here.

Finally, IWCE presents a host of learning opportunities. Mutualink executives will be speaking in a number of short course. Catch up with them here:

IWCE: Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV, March 23-24, 2016

Joe Boucher
Extend Your Coverage and Capacity with Deployable Networks and Other Methods
When: Thursday, March 24, 2016  |  11:30AM-12:45PM
Room: N255

Colin McWay
Governance – The Key to Improving Interoperable Communications Across Jurisdictions
When: Wednesday, March 23, 2016  |   2:45PM- 4:00PM
Room: N252

Mike Wengrovitz
The Evolving Connected Public Safety Officer: The Coolest Gear, the Latest Tech
When: Thursday, March 24, 2016  |   3:30PM- 4:45PM
Room: N257

The Technology of Wearables

When: Wednesday, March 23, 2016  |   4:15PM- 5:30PM
Room: N252

http://www.iwceexpo.com

Enhanced public safety - secure coordination among response agencies

Santa Clara, CA – With fan safety emerging as the day's big winner, Mutualink is celebrating a victory off the football field as part of the highly-successful security operation for Super Bowl 50. Mutualink's communications platform enabled secure, real-time collaboration and information sharing among local, state and federal agencies, as well as private entities such as utilities and mass transit. The technology provided unprecedented situational awareness to law enforcement – from Super Bowl City in San Francisco, to media day in San Jose, to the big game in Santa Clara – protecting nearly 2 million football enthusiasts who converged on the Bay Area last week.

As the biggest national security event of the year, Super Bowl 50 presented unique challenges because it brought together dozens of public agencies and private entities in the counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco, many of whom used different radios and frequencies to communicate with one another. The Mutualink platform served as a bridge that enabled all participants to connect and collaborate securely, regardless of whether they were using P25 digital radios, Land Mobile Radios (LMR), or Long Term Evolution (LTE) devices. In addition, Mutualink enabled parties to share real-time video – including viewing fixed video footage using a mobile device – for the first time ever.

Under the leadership of the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) and the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), Mutualink executives began planning, training and support activities months ago to operationalize the Mutualink platform throughout the region. Agencies and entities that relied on Mutualink included local/state police, fire, the San Francisco FBI, Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E).

"Coordination is the name of the game with an event of this magnitude, and Mutualink made a very complicated communications operation extremely easy and effective," said Mike Sena, Director of the NCRIC. "Being able to share voice, video and location information in real time gave law enforcement a huge advantage in maintaining a safe and secure environment for the entire Bay Area."

Play by Play

Mutualink's technology was available in various form factors for both fixed and mobile deployments throughout the Super Bowl and surrounding events. Some examples of how Mutualink was used include:

Mutualink maintained reliable, uninterrupted transmission of video, voice and radio communications thanks to the Band 14 public safety broadband network. During large scale events, commercial cell phone towers experience overuse and interrupted service, which could prove catastrophic in an emergency. Mutualink also credits its technology partners, including Parallel Wireless, Sonim, Haystax Technology and others, for its successful Super Bowl deployment.

"The Super Bowl security operation was a demonstration of teamwork at its finest, and we're proud that our technology was able to play a significant role in this well-executed event," said David "Buck" Verbrugge, Mutualink's California Business Development Director, and Ret. Captain of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety. "By transforming first responders' narrowband radios into sophisticated broadband devices, Mutualink provided extraordinary situational awareness to the entire security team."

The Bay Area was already confident in Mutualink's capability, with numerous public and private customers throughout the region. "It's been said this was the most intense security at a sporting event in U.S. history, and we're grateful to have a communications solution we can depend on for both everyday operations, and massive undertakings like the Super Bowl," said Lieutenant Vinicio Mata, Office of Emergency Services, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

The possibilities of the tiny Intel Edison module are limitless. We are glad to be honored with Mutualink and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office to help deliver a nationally recognized public safety innovation."

About Mutualink

Mutualink, Inc. has developed 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 currently deployed by hundreds of public and private entities worldwide, including homeland security and defense installations, NATO Special Operations Forces, police and fire departments, transit authorities, hospitals, schools, universities, shopping malls, casinos, and more. Mutualink's technology is on the "Approved Products List" for both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Defense. Mutualink is a privately-held company headquartered in Wallingford, Conn., with R&D facilities in Westford, Mass. and Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and Defense Services office near Washington, DC. For more information please visit www.mutualink.net.

For More Information & Further Inquiry:

Beth Clay, Mutualink, Inc.
Phone: (203) 774-3474
Email: BClay@mutualink.net

Mutualink, Intel, San Mateo County Sheriff's Office honored for collaboration

Wallingford, CT – The IJIS Institute  awarded its 2016 Innovation Award to Intel, Mutualink and the San Mateo County Sheriff's for "The Internet of Public Safety Things: Urban Shield Results". This exciting area of emerging public safety technology is transforming the ways that first responder teams interoperate to accomplish their missions.

"On behalf of Sheriff Munks and our partners at Intel, we are extremely honored to receive the 2016 Innovation Award from the IJIS Institute," said Mark Hatten, CEO, Mutualink. "We collaborated with the goal of equipping the next generation of first responders with interconnected technology that can ultimately save lives in emergency scenarios. Sheriff Munks and his team demonstrated that the Wearable Smart Gateway, our first entry in the Internet of Public Safety Things category,  is indeed a game-changer for the public safety community."

News Highlights:

"The possibilities of the tiny Intel Edison module are limitless. We are glad to be honored with Mutualink and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office to help deliver a nationally recognized public safety innovation," said Roger Chandler, Director of Business Planning and Innovation, Software and Solutions Group, Intel Corporation.

Additional Resources:

The possibilities of the tiny Intel Edison module are limitless. We are glad to be honored with Mutualink and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office to help deliver a nationally recognized public safety innovation.

About Mutualink

Mutualink, Inc. has developed 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 currently deployed by hundreds of public and private entities worldwide, including homeland security and defense installations, NATO Special Operations Forces, police and fire departments, transit authorities, hospitals, schools, universities, shopping malls, casinos, and more. Mutualink's technology is on the "Approved Products List" for both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Defense. Mutualink is a privately-held company headquartered in Wallingford, Conn., with R&D facilities in Westford, Mass. and Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and Defense Services office near Washington, DC. For more information please visit www.mutualink.net.

For More Information & Further Inquiry:

Beth Clay, Mutualink, Inc.
Phone: (203) 774-3474
Email: BClay@mutualink.net

Initiative Strengthens Disaster Response and Recovery in NY State

(from NY Gov. Cuomo's website)
Governor Cuomo announced the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Office of Emergency Management has completed the Phase One rollout of NY Responds, the State's new approach to disaster response and recovery. With the completion of Phase One, county emergency management agencies can now connect with the New York State Emergency Operations Center in Albany to improve coordination and cooperation during a disaster or emergency.

"NY Responds is transforming and strengthening the way this state responds to disasters and other emergency situations,” Governor Cuomo said. "This new approach is key in executing a coordinated response which helps communities stay better informed when an emergency situation occurs and recover more quickly."

The enhanced incident management system, provided at no cost to localities, will enable both local governments and state agencies to submit and share vital disaster-related information ranging from incident reporting and resource requests to real-time tracking of assets and weather conditions. The new system has already been successfully utilized in Herkimer and Seneca Counties for recent incidents that have occurred since its implementation.

Additionally as part of NY Responds, the Division continues to train and provide state agencies and counties access to Mutualink, a new technology solution that integrates telephone, radio, video and file sharing into one, interoperable application. This system enables local emergency staff to share seamless, real-time information with the state and other counties. The rollout and integration of Mutualink into the NY Responds common operating picture will begin in 2016.

During Phase Two, the Division will make additional upgrades to the incident management system adding improved geographic information systems, weather forecasting and modeling, additional Mutualink features, asset and inventory management, and notifications and alerting. Phase Two is expected to start in 2016.

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner John P. Melville said, "NY Responds supports the Governor's vision of building a world-class emergency management and response network. Once fully implemented within all counties, NY Responds will give emergency managers and elected officials a better way to work with the state and with other local governments during a crisis."

New York State Emergency Managers Association President and Livingston County Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Niedermaier said, "New York Responds provides the local emergency manager with a tool that will enhance their situational awareness not only at the local level but at the state level as well. Right tool at the right time."

Herkimer County Office of Emergency Services Director Robert Vandawalker said,"Herkimer County Emergency Services had the opportunity to make use of the recently activated NY Responds System. Our office generated a report through NY Responds that was immediately acknowledged and processed by the New York State Office of Emergency Management, which streamlined the flow of information. We feel that the NY Responds system is a major step towards improving emergency management and response in New York State."

Seneca County Emergency Management Director Melissa Taylor said, "The Seneca County Emergency Management Department recently used NY Responds to request NYSDOH staff and Hepatitis A vaccine in support of mass vaccination clinics. NY Responds is a wonderful tool that acts as a one stop shop for coordinating emergency response. The software is easy to use in a pinch and highly effective at getting requests handled promptly and efficiently."

New York State Emergency Managers Association Regional Vice President and Rensselaer County Bureau of Public Safety Director Kelly Paslow said, "The emergency management community is pleased to see the Governor and NYSOEM take this step. It will set a standard tool that will enable all of us access to the State's Emergency Operations Center and provide real-time situational awareness through an Internet based program with no cost to county governments. It allows emergency managers to obtain important information during an event and allows each requesting county to track their requests for State assets."

About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and its four offices – Emergency Management, Fire Prevention and Control, and Interoperable and Emergency Communications, and Counter Terrorism – provide leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the DHSES Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSESon Twitter, or visit dhses.ny.gov.

The possibilities of the tiny Intel Edison module are limitless. We are glad to be honored with Mutualink and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office to help deliver a nationally recognized public safety innovation."

About Mutualink

Mutualink, Inc. has developed 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 currently deployed by hundreds of public and private entities worldwide, including homeland security and defense installations, NATO Special Operations Forces, police and fire departments, transit authorities, hospitals, schools, universities, shopping malls, casinos, and more. Mutualink's technology is on the "Approved Products List" for both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Defense. Mutualink is a privately-held company headquartered in Wallingford, Conn., with R&D facilities in Westford, Mass. and Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and Defense Services office near Washington, DC. For more information please visit www.mutualink.net.

For More Information & Further Inquiry:

Beth Clay, Mutualink, Inc.
Phone: (203) 774-3474
Email: BClay@mutualink.net

Author: Bryan K. Rudel, Harris County Sheriff's Office, TX.
9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Mobile Command Post Technologies

Most law enforcement and emergency responders will agree the single most important factor after a catastrophic event is maintaining order, providing aid and restoring stable, effective communications in the field, which becomes a monumental task when traditional power is unavailable. In early 2013, the Harris County Sheriff Office Mobile Command Unit met to analyze the deficiencies of existing equipment and formulated a plan for comprehensive technological updates.

Recognizing budgetary limitations, grant funding was sought for these necessary upgrades. The Federal Department of Justice agreed to allow the Sheriff's Office to use a portion of existing Justice Assistance Grant funding to support the technological updates recommended by the Mobile Command team. Over the next ten months, the Mobile Communications Unit received a massive technology "face-lift" that included some very notable enhancements that brought this Unit into the forefront of public safety mobile communications.

The first step was to replace outdated and nonfunctioning satellite systems with new AvL 1.2 meter Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite systems on each mobile command vehicle. These systems allow a reliable tertiary connection for data, voice, and video. VSAT systems were crucial after Hurricane Ike when the commercial cellular towers were down or at capacity and there were no other means of reliable connectivity.

The next step was to find ways to improve interoperability on the mobile communications platform to better provide support in the field. A system called Mutualink was implemented to provide the units a means of sharing video, voice, texts, and documents among a secured, encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN) to all members of an incident. This system also allows the patching of any radio talkgroup with others talkgroups that is broadcasts over the secured incident for all members. This unprecedented system has become a game-changer for this Team, allowing true interoperability no matter the radio frequencies of multiple agencies on a scene.

To better the interface of the Mutualink system, 65" touchscreen monitors were installed to provide a large working surface and a touchscreen interface. These touchscreen monitors allow on-scene commanders the ability to pull up current maps, annotate on those maps important details of a plan, and then send them through an email with a single touch of an icon. The large screens also aid in the viewing of live video streams and photographs through Mutualink.

Situational awareness of active scenes was accomplished by the installation of Internet Protocol (IP) digital Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) cameras mounted on top of pneumatic masts on these units. Panasonic WV-SW598 cameras were chosen for this project, as they provide a weatherproof, fully enclosed dome camera with Full 1080p HD images, 90X optical zoom, face detection, area privacy zones, and the ability to function fully from inside a secured network. These cameras have proven themselves invaluable during many deployments by providing the ability to zoom at very long distances.

With new technologies came the need for more bandwidth, which is always a challenge in the wireless environment of a mobile platform. The units were running off of a single commercial 3G/4G wireless modem to provide voice, data, and video. This would not be nearly enough to handle to capacity required for sharing live HD video and sending large documents and photographs from the field. To address this need, a Peplink Balance Multi-WAN router was installed in each mobile command unit. These routers combine all active connections for load balancing data transfer for faster and more reliable connectivity.

To provide even more bandwidth in the field, a point-to-point microwave system was installed on the units. These Broadband Antenna Tracking Systems (BATS) provide a high-speed connection between the mobile command units in the field and a stationary microwave antenna connected to a secured network which will maintain its connection while traveling up to 60mph. This point-to-point system allows high speed data transfers with speeds up to 200Mbps, depending on distance and line of sight of the devices. The bandwidth provided by this solution resulted in seamless video streaming and reliable connectivity, which is crucial for Public Safety agencies.

With an average of one deployment per week to support specialized units in the field such as SWAT, Hostage Negotiation Team, and Vice Operations, it was determined that the radio system itself on the mobile command units needed upgrading to provide dispatching capabilities in the field. Encryption for the Motorola radio system was installed to be interoperable with the encrypted radio talkgroups of these specialized teams. With their encrypted talkgroups now loaded in the system, Tactical Dispatchers can now dispatch in the field on these channels to provide support, which is crucial for officer safety during these high risk incidents. To further support the Hostage Negotiations Team (HNT), a Crisis Response Vehicle Integration Package was installed that allows the direct connect of their "throwphones" to the mobile command post to provide voice connectivity directly to the command post.

Four (4) WhisperWatt 56kW towable generators were purchased to provide external power to the command units in the field when shore power is not available. To add to their functionalities, adjustable LED scene lighting was added to the roofs to provide lighting for operational personnel and scene security.

The end result of this monumental technology upgrade to the mobile command unit was the addition of interoperable systems, high-speed broadband connectivity, multiple network connectivity, and external power supply that brought this unit into the forefront of mobile communications. In response to this project, the Harris County Sheriff Office Mobile Command Unit garnered the 2015 APCO Technology Leadership award for Large Agencies for the hard work and dedication by this team in providing the latest in technology to serve the citizens of Harris County.

The possibilities of the tiny Intel Edison module are limitless. We are glad to be honored with Mutualink and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office to help deliver a nationally recognized public safety innovation."

About Mutualink

Mutualink, Inc. has developed 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 currently deployed by hundreds of public and private entities worldwide, including homeland security and defense installations, NATO Special Operations Forces, police and fire departments, transit authorities, hospitals, schools, universities, shopping malls, casinos, and more. Mutualink's technology is on the "Approved Products List" for both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Defense. Mutualink is a privately-held company headquartered in Wallingford, Conn., with R&D facilities in Westford, Mass. and Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and Defense Services office near Washington, DC. For more information please visit www.mutualink.net.

For More Information & Further Inquiry:

Beth Clay, Mutualink, Inc.
Phone: (203) 774-3474
Email: BClay@mutualink.net

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