CoCo Communications today announced it has deployed a “wireless security blanket” at Franklin High School in Seattle, where the company’s software-based wireless mesh solution is designed to improve interoperability among school administrators and with emergency-response personnel.

Franklin High School is equipped with 20 wireless nodes using 802.11b technology. School administrators can communicate using off-the-shelf handheld radios, laptops and PDAs loaded with CoCo’s software, which also supports ad hoc meshing while providing a high level of security.

Ken Erickson, CoCo’s national director of education, said the solution supports voice, video and data communications--each of which can be used via a PDA such as Hewlett Packard’s iPAQ h5500.

“Essentially, we’ve converged this device,” Erickson said. “We’ve turned it into a peer-to-peer device, a push-to-talk radio and a remote monitor [for security cameras in the school].”

Not only does the mesh solution serve school employees, area public-safety agencies also can access the network. This is designed to let first responders see video from surveillance cameras in the school and communicate with school administrators when responding to an incident.

“In Columbine, one of the problems was that they had no visibility into the school,” said Riley Eller, CoCo’s director of technology, security and special projects. “Now, you’re walking onto a campus with more situational awareness.”

Franklin is the first of a series of installations that CoCo officials are calling a National School Protection Network. The next deployments are scheduled to be in Virginia.

"CoCo enables school administrators, police and fire to operate in unison and respond more quickly under crisis conditions," CoCo founder and CEO Mark Tucker said in a prepared statement. "This system acts as a wireless security blanket around the school, so that staff, as well as first responders can see what's happening inside the school, as the situation unfolds."

With several patents pending on its standards-based security platform, Seattle-based CoCo has contracts with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Secret Service and the Office of Naval Research. However, the Franklin High School deployment marks the first press announcement by the company, Erickson said.