When folks talk about the machine-to-machine communications revolution, the context mostly revolves around connected machines such as cars, appliances and buildings. Public safety itself, aside from the boom in vehicle telematics, appears to be largely untapped.

According to Patrick Esposito, president and chief operating officer of Augusta Systems, the government and public-safety sector often is overlooked when it comes to M2M applications. Augusta Systems is a software company that offers products that enable different devices, systems and applications to become automated via a rules-based policy engine.

The company last week won a $1.3-million contract with the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to test and enhance a distributed, intelligent network capable of managing single and multiple "swarms" of unmanned air, ground and sea vehicles, unattended ground sensors, video cameras and other devices. Based upon the data sent from their own swarm or other swarms, August Systems' intelligent network will enable all of these devices to act on their own, based on rules set up in the platform.

The company aims to demonstrate diverse vehicle, sensor and data integration; adaptive, cooperative behavior among on-board vehicles, as well as sensors and devices; and the ability to relay requested data to multiple users from multiple vehicles, sensors and devices. It also hopes to showcase intelligent communication that is independent of user operations.

"This deal takes things to a whole new level," Esposito said. "We're talking about unmanned vehicles responding to triggers from unattended ground sensors. This is searching based on intelligent queuing from a variety of assets in an operational environment."

That concept would have a significant impact on the public-safety sector. As it stands today, many government agencies are heavily utilizing technology such as video surveillance, but don't have an automated way of receiving that information when an event occurs. What if first responders could receive a video clip of an alarm event at the time it happens? What if gunshot location systems coupled with video could send incident information automatically — via email, SMS or text to speech — to first responder radios? For Esposito, it's a matter of connecting the various system stovepipes already in place within an organization.

For instance, the City of Morgantown, W.Va., uses Augusta Systems’ software to power a municipal public safety network that supports a converged, wide-area surveillance system. The public safety network infrastructure integrates city-owned security cameras and sensors, as well as surveillance data from private security systems, into a unified network for enhanced public safety in the city.

Augusta Systems also targets a number of industries that touch the public-safety sector. For instance, it has a deal with Allegheny Energy, which is using the company’s software in a smart grid project that integrates controls for building systems and energy management with utility infrastructure. The company also is working with several vendors that have products related to building security to create smart building applications.

What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.