Emergency Comm.

Case Study: MITOC

Regardless of the scope and scale, when disaster strikes, first responders need a rapid and effective way to collect and communicate information in the early moments. For some agencies, it is a stop gap until back up arrives; for others it can be their only source of communication from the scene.

But traditional mobile command centers are financially out of reach for many agencies, which is a key reason why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security heavily invested in research to develop an affordable, portable solution.

That solution is MITOC™ (Man-Portable Interoperable Tactical Operations Center,) which offers a comprehensive communications platform for first responders in the early hours of an event. It can be a free standing solution or can be used as a link to more complex mobile command equipment as it arrives on scene for backup support or supplemental communications capabilities when needed.

MITOC's integrated suite of products are unique in that they're readily available on the commercial market. It's made up of interoperable voice, data, radio, and video technologies which are integrated so they work together. Because they are off the shelf components, the cost is considerably less than purchasing traditional mobile command centers hard-mounted in SUVs, buses, or trailers.

MITOC is one of the most cost effective communication solutions on the market due to the fact that R&D was conducted through a partnership between the University of Louisville, Murray State University's Center for Telecommunications Systems Management, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System first responder training program. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, in cooperation with the National Institute for Hometown Security, provided a $1.1 million three-year research grant to develop and test the integrated components under real operating conditions. This allows MITOC to be offered commercially at a lower cost to agencies since the R&D was paid for by DHS.

MITOC components include:
•Integrated "family" of products – from an 8-user wearable system to a 36-user portable rack in a shock-mounted transit case.

•Cellular Data capabilities with optional redundancy for full-time low cost bandwidth.

•Satellite Data broadband capabilities as a back-up or supplement to the cellular data.

•Efficient energy use capable of receiving power from AC shore power, batteries, solar panels, inverters, and small generators.

•MESH Wireless Network using Rajant Breadcrumb® technology that can cover square miles, tunnels, and large buildings.

•Voice Over IP telephones that can bring in dial-tone from areas unaffected by a current disaster.

•Sensor integration and live feed monitoring to remote subject-matter experts.

Optional features and capabilities include:
• Additional Rajant Breadcrumb® portable access points extend the coverage of wireless areas

•Land mobile base radio module with interoperability matrix from the world's leading providers

•Remote weather station with plume modeling integration

•Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) ground support capability with live video feeds from its own UAV at the scene

•Video applications; both streaming for situational awareness and videoconferencing

•Cellular repeater/amplifier system to boost weak signals or reach deep inside buildings up to 15,000 square feet

•A variety of land mobile robot systems

Prior to its release in the broad market, MITOC was put to the test in Kentucky by its research team, all first responders, with phenomenal results:

• For the Kentucky Derby from 2005 until 2008, security teams were charged with securing the public venue from weapons of mass destruction and providing real-time monitoring and tactical response readiness. MITOC enabled them to provide roving tactical teams and sensors secured wi-fi to the track facilities from half a mile away. It also provided real time weather and plume dispersion modeling, real time video surveillance and radio interoperability.

• When a barge wrecked on the Ohio River with hazardous materials on board, MITOC provided full EOC-like capabilities and provided crucial secured internet access to the Unified Command staff working out of the U.S. Coast Guard facilities, and allowing all of them to readily communicate with local and state EOC's during the incident. MITOC provided full EOC-like capabilities for more than 35 hours inside a structure and allowed a collaborative rapid response from multiple agencies.

• Following one of the nation's largest HAZMAT train derailments, MITOC provided secure wireless Internet access to ad hoc Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) for federal, state, and local agencies over two day period. MITOC's capabilities worked in tandem with the Kentucky Emergency Management's Mobile Command Center to provide data interoperability by bridging its wireless networks. MITOC also enabled federal agencies to be looped into the process.

MITOC is a solution whose time has come. It allows agencies of all sizes to have a low-cost, quickly deployable communication system readily available in the event of a crisis. For the many agencies that missed out on Homeland Security funding and didn't receive grants to purchase mobile command centers, MITOC provides a cost effective solution that meets their communication needs at a price they can afford.

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