The Maple Grove (Minn.) Fire Department is custom-building a communications-infrastructure truck to serve the needs of its response area, including two nuclear plants, Deputy Chief Kurt Kramer said. Included in the retrofit is an Icomera Moovbox M200 mobile broadband gateway for real-time, secure communication services on emergency response vehicles.

The M200 acts as a bridge between a first-responder vehicle and high-speed cellular data networks including 3G HSPA, EV-DO, WiMAX and 4.9 GHz public-safety bands. It provides encrypted Wi-Fi access and a secure Ethernet-based LAN for connecting on-board systems such as laptops and IP-CCTV over VPN to remote facilities. Kramer said the fire department will take advantage of the cellular links supported by the M200 to connect vehicles to a central command facility in the event of nuclear and other large-scale emergencies. Communications become essential when the department is addressing an incident at the nuclear power plants in Minnesota because the field team must access weather and mapping information in real-time and communicate back to the state’s emergency operations center.

"Our teams are responsible for the detection and sampling of radioactive materials downwind of the release in the unlikely event of a problem at the plants,” Kramer said. “As a result, we require secure and reliable VPN connections for receiving current data.”

The system also includes public-safety–grade antennas and amplifiers to maximize signal quality and data throughput to the vehicles, Kramer said.