BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - Verizon Business has introduced a new service designed to enable police, fire and other public safety personnel to communicate directly with one another by radio, phone or e-mail during an emergency - even if they are using incompatible communications systems.
The service, Verizon Communications Interoperability Solution, is an Internet protocol (IP)-based platform that integrates radio as well as voice, data and wireless networks so that they can operate as a single network, thus enabling better communications among diverse federal, state and local public safety organizations.
This service helps remedy a long-standing problem that public safety and federal regulatory officials have been attempting to resolve. The issue was highlighted during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, when New York City's police and fire departments could not communicate with each other during the rescue efforts because their radios operated on different frequencies.
[Note: An audio podcast discussing Verizon Communications Interoperability Solution is available here.]
"The ability to effectively communicate during crisis situations is critical, especially given today's legacy patchwork of first-responder communications systems," said Nancy Gofus, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Verizon Business. "Verizon Communications Interoperability Solution is a powerful tool that underscores how Verizon Business continues to bring innovation through IP."
The state of West Virginia has signed up to use the new service, which is now available throughout the U.S. and is also well-suited for business customers with large campuses or widespread facilities, such as universities and manufacturing plants.
"Under the leadership of Gov. Joe Manchin, West Virginia has made emergency communications a top priority," said Jimmy Gianato, director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "Verizon Communications Interoperability Solution solves a long-standing critical need and will be instrumental in enabling our agencies to better communicate with other critical first responders during times of crisis and, in the process, help save lives and protect property."
The Verizon Business interoperability service works this way:
Police and fire departments, emergency medical services and other public safety organizations identified by a government entity as primary points of contact during a crisis each set aside a channel on their radio systems. When activated, the service - using routers, interfaces and other equipment placed at the customer's premises - links up all of the set-aside channels and converts them into IP. This enables all of the participating public safety organizations to communicate directly with one another, regardless of radio frequencies or other communications platforms.
The service can also link wireline and wireless voice calls and e-mail and text messages to the interoperable communications system. In addition, the service can be programmed to use prearranged phone numbers and radio frequencies to automatically alert public safety organizations when there is a crisis. Additional numbers can also be added easily during times of crisis.
Verizon Business' Private IP service is the ideal foundation for this solution as it supports the required features - quality of service (QoS) and IP multicasting. QoS enables customers to prioritize traffic, and IP multicasting is a network-based service that helps conserve bandwidth by replicating data and sending it to pre-determined users. In addition, the Verizon Communication Interoperability Solution can be deployed over any IP network as long as minimum technical requirements are met.
Before the interoperability platform is deployed, Verizon Business professional services experts work with the customer and conduct an IP network readiness assessment to determine the ability of existing infrastructure to support the new service. The offering is cost effective because it leverages existing infrastructure.
Verizon Communications Interoperability Solution, the latest addition to Verizon Business' emergency communications portfolio, is a customer premises equipment-based service that employs Cisco's IP Interoperability and Communications System portfolio of devices and applications. Verizon Business is the first North American service provider to offer this Cisco-based platform.
In 2009, Verizon Business plans to introduce managed and hosted versions of this solution, which will offer public safety agencies greater choice and flexibility.
"Utilizing the transformative power of IP, Cisco and Verizon Business are changing the way first responders communicate and share information during times of crisis," said Bill Stuntz, vice president and general manager of Cisco's physical security business unit. "Using IP as the foundation to deliver truly interoperable communications, Verizon Communications Interoperability Solution combines the strength of Verizon Business' IP network and professional services capabilities with the flexibility and scalability of Cisco IP Interoperability and Communication System."
Serving the unique requirements of federal, state and local government public safety agencies, Verizon Business offers a comprehensive portfolio of specialized networking, call center, and data storage and processing capabilities to help homeland security, fire, police and medical response teams effectively respond to emergencies.
[Note: Verizon Communications Interoperability Solutions will be demonstrated in the company's booth (#124) at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials annual conference in Kansas City, Mo., August 3-7 at the Kansas City Convention Center.]
About Verizon Business
Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), operates the world's most connected public IP network and uses its industry-leading global-network capabilities to offer large-business and government customers an unmatched combination of security, reliability and speed. The company integrates advanced IP communications and information technology (IT) products and services to deliver leading enterprise solutions including managed services, security, mobility, collaboration and professional services. These solutions power innovation and enable the company's customers to do business better. For more information, visit www.verizonbusiness.com.