Friday, May 25, 2012

Out of the darkness we build the First Responder Network

Frantic realization starts to set in.

I have a dream of a national network that is same in every way as a national carrier -- only better. I envision a wireless broadband architecture that entails the features of the traditional LMR and RF based handheld solutions, but also has the deep artistic and creative value of the smart phone; with feature rich apps that do nothing but support the needs to help all of our first responders.

Imagine its the desolate hours following a major hurricane that made a rapid course change and came ashore without sufficient warning. Through the eerie calm after the storm, and within the darkness of the night, there sits a family of six on the roof of a badly and submerged structure; a pregnant Mother, Father, teenage daughter, 10 and 6 year old sons and a 19 month old little girl. All corralled together in wet pajamas shivering, not from the cold, but the shock of where they are. There is no power. The water is everywhere. In order to survive they had to climb in desperation to the roof of their home in hopes of escaping the rising water. It's 2 am in the morning and not a light in sight; nor a sound for miles except for the faint calls for help and an occasional dog barking in darkness. The 6 year old son has asthma and the mother is feeling pains from the stress from the heat of the night. The night air has calmed enough for the mosquitos to search for survival as well. All the father can do is start to assess their situation and notice that all his belongings; cell phone, radio, medicine, food and drinkable water, were lost in the house below. He comes to the conclusion that he is helpless in what he can do for his family to survive. With the stress, and the anxiety of knowing that he is failing as the provider of his family, his mind starts to wonder to the insane actions required.

Five miles away a patrol car approaches the edge of a wooded area. Its the end of a road that is impassible from that point further. The officer rotates his body towards a mounted laptop. This officer has been dispatched to search and rescue in hopes of possibly providing some kind of support to faint and distant cries. The officer knows that not far ahead lies a rural neighborhood that was thriving with families with children. From his laptop the patrolman then dispatches a remotely operated quad copter (UAV) from the roof of his car to view the damage area up to 5 miles away. That same UAV would be equipped with Smart HD video, SAR Imaging (synthetic Aperture Radar) and FLIR Thermal Imaging (Forward Looking Infra-Red) technologies as well as a audio output device. After a few seconds of flight at a low altitude, yet above what used to be a dense wooded area, and even in the darkest of nights, the SAR identifies movement some 10 acres ahead, within milliseconds the UAV repositions and rotates the FLIR that picks up body heat -- not just one, but multiple heat signatures.  The officer radios back to the mobile command and control center some ten miles away with his handheld SMART device equipped with both LMR and LTE capabilities. Instantaneously the command is viewing the officers remotely operated UAV and repositions a high flying UAV platform that was already pre-dispatch to the affected areas even before the storm hit.

Operating at a altitude much further above, and with multitude of capabilities, the platform scans a 5 mile radius with the precision of a HD solution that could read the stitching of a baseball from 10 miles above in both night and day. The UAV also includes a satellite communication multi-downlink functionality. Instantaneously this UAV picks up not just 5 body signatures -- but hundreds. These images are being reviewed in realtime and coordinated through and emergency response center manned by multiple first response organizations; Police, Fire, EMS, Utilties, Forestry, Agriculture, the Navy, Marine, Coast Guard and Army resources both stationed off the coast and further inland. Through a coordinated attack, and almost simultaneously, the command center commander issues orders that activates a quick reaction EMS force to be dispatch via a Navy, Marine, Army and Coast Guard of which some have been prepositioned based Sea Stallions sitting off the coast -- as well as Marine and Coast Guard fast response boats. Having already assessed the flow of the historical data from the SMART Grid, as it was affected during the storm, the command was able to accurately position power crews to start bringing the power back up, even before the storm had passed, as to coordinate the restoration of power to possible emergency response staging and refugee areas. At the same time the States Commerce, Health and Agriculture services, and with the help of the American Red Cross, were already coordinating provisions to the worse affected areas.

Meanwhile, back on that rooftop stood a father in desperation. He was already starting to envision the necessity for him to try and swim into the submerged house as to obtain his sons medications. Once obtained he would return then have to continue to swim beyond the home, in the pitch black, to try and find some type of assistance for his family. Desperation was setting in and the decision to go was made. Then out of the darkness he sees a small light and the faint hum of what sounds like a humming bird. Within seconds the small humming bird turns out to be a small remotely operated UAV operated by that patrolman more than 2 miles away. The officer positions the UAV just above the mans head and then, through the audio capability of the UAV, conveys that help is on the way and that they are due to arrive at his position within 2 minutes. Then out of the darkness he can hear the roar of the massive Sea Stallion moving in towards him. Then, almost simultaneously appears a rubber boat manned by three crew members and an EMT to which its approach was concealed by the noise of the massive helicopter. The relief sets in as the man collapses to his knees crying for the fact that his family will be saved.

I have a dream that this is what the Broadband Public Safety Network could bring. None of this would be possible without the coordinated capabilities of a States resources acting in unison under one communication infrastructure that is equipped and hardened for the worst disasters imagined. The situations are real and the technology is already achievable.

I have a dream.

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Words to Live By: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” (Steve Jobs)