Regional emergency system prepped
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Aug 22, 2002
Police, fire, ambulance, and transportation officials from Maryland, Virginia
and Washington, D.C. are closer to developing an interoperable and real-time
wireless data communications system.
IBM Corp. announced on Aug. 22 that it has been chosen as the systems
integrator for the $20 million Capital Wireless Integrated Network (CapWIN)
CapWIN, which spun off from a Transportation Department project about
two years ago, will provide a communications bridge for emergency responders
across jurisdictions to effectively respond to daily incidents as well as
events such as last year's terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
An estimated 40 state, local and federal agencies will communicate with
each other via the network using laptops, personal digital assistants and
Sponsors of the project (www.capwin.org), which is managed by the University
of Maryland's Center for Advanced Transportation Technology, include the
National Institute of Justice and the Public Safety Wireless Network. An
executive committee composed of local, state, and federal officials governs
"CapWIN is revolutionary thinking," said Fred Davis, CapWIN's deputy
program director. "People have got to change the way they do business. The
days of 'this is my turf and you can't play' — well, those days are over."
The open-architecture system will be built using commercial, off-the-shelf
technology that has been already developed, Davis said. IBM has a number
of subcontractors - including Templar Corp., PB Farradyne Inc., TeleCommunications
Systems and PelicanMobile Computers Inc. - to help with implementation,
which will occur in several phases. The system will interface with existing
disparate legacy systems.
By February, Davis said mobile computing capability would be provided
to those agencies that don't have such systems and interfaces will be developed
for transportation centers in Maryland and Virginia that collect traffic
information useful to officials.
In addition, disparate mobile systems will be connected among agencies.
Databases maintained by different agencies will be linked and only appropriate
information will be shared, Davis said. For example, transportation officials
would not have access to criminal databases.
Eventually, the project will provide Web-based incident command systems
for first responders to effectively manage and deploy personnel and equipment
at an emergency. When the system is fully developed, it will be easier for
transportation and other emergency officials to redirect traffic in case
of an overturned truck, for example, he said.
Although agencies from across jurisdictions will have to sign memorandums
of understanding, Davis doesn't anticipate a problem. "The basic fundamental
concept of CapWIN is partnerships," he said. "If we don't have partnerships
we can't move forward."