Technology and collaboration are key for supporting first responders
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What would it be like to witness a flooded neighborhood, a collapsed building, a chemical contamination, a subway terror attack, and a hostage situation all in one day? Thankfully, most of us will never have to answer that question. For nearly 200 first responders, public safety officers, and state and local officials who attended Operation Convergent Response June 7-8 at The Guardian Centers in Perry, GA, it was an opportunity to see firsthand how advanced technologies can support them in a crisis situation.
The exercise, one of the largest of its kind, brought together first responders and government officials from across the country, as well as several other countries, to see technology in action and to learn how Verizon and 40-plus technology companies join forces to support first responders and our communities in an emergency. Technology demonstrations played out over several live-action scenarios reenacted by teams of actual first responders.
“Collaboration is key,” said Mike Maiorana, senior vice president of sales for the public sector at Verizon. “Getting federal, state and local first responders together, allowing them to understand what we can do before the real problems start is critical.”
Crisis situations are fluid and complex, and first responders often confront them not knowing exactly what the situation is or how to resolve it.
Armed with a sci-fi movie inventory of drones, robots, autonomous vehicles, telemedicine applications, “smart city” solutions, and other advanced communications equipment, teams worked together to assess situations, plan their responses, and execute their plans.
Temporary 4G LTE coverage beamed from mobile cell sites and from balloons tethered to the ground provided the network connectivity the teams needed to communicate. Robots crept into locations that were otherwise unreachable or too dangerous for a first responder to go. Drones provided HD video surveillance and dropped life preservers to victims stranded in floodwaters. A trauma center treated victims with the help of telemedicine solutions that would be so critical in the wake of a major disaster. A mobile command unit served as the nerve center for the exercise, coordinating responses by multiple teams in several locations. All of this took place under protection of a software-defined perimeter system that protected the teams from the efforts of an unseen cyber attacker. As futuristic as some of these applications may sound, the technology exists today to make all of these solutions available to support first responders.
“Crisis situations are fluid and complex, and first responders often confront them not knowing exactly what the situation is or how to resolve it,” said Jeffrey Schweitzer, head of network and security innovation programs at Verizon. “We were able to demonstrate an array of technologies available to them today to provide communications, situational awareness, and response tactics designed to reduce risk to the first responders and the people they’re trying to help.”
Solutions on display rode on Verizon’s wireless and wireline networks, and demonstrated how the company can leverage its existing relationships to marshal a variety of resources quickly to support first responders during a natural or manmade crisis.
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