Federal, state and local officials yesterday applauded the use of an interoperable communications service at Dallas Love Field airport supplied by mesh-networking software vendor CoCo Communications.
Secure voicebetween nine disparate voice networks—using different frequencies and protocols—using existing radios and infrastructure by installing the CoCo protocol software at gateways in the networks, said Pete Erickson, CoCo Communications’ vice president of business development.
At Dallas Love Field, the CoCo protocol is used to link radio users for the city of Dallas departments, the state of Texas, multiple federal agencies and Southwest Airlines to communicate via voice. Erickson noted that, as with any interoperability solution, a key component of the Love Field project was the planning sessions between the entities to determine when interoperable communications were needed.
“It took us four months to install the equipment, but it took another four months for the participants to decide who should be able to talk to whom in different types of incidents,” Erickson said, noting that the CoCo solution provides security used by the company in several federal-government deployments.
While the Love Field project included the installation of new Wi-Fi network to provide a robust communications alternative, Erickson emphasized that the CoCo solution would enable interoperability without it. Even with the new wireless network, the entire package cost less than $1 million dollars.
“The cost of solving this [interoperability] problem now that there is a validated software solution is very low—orders of magnitude lower than anything that has been proposed before,” Erickson said.
Indeed, Dallas-area Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, said she believes the interoperability solution at Love Field should serve as model throughout the nation.
“The service in place at Dallas Love Field is a present-day solution to a serious problem in emergency response, which is making sure first responders, emergency personnel and law enforcement can quickly communicate with one another in times of crisis,” Johnson said in a prepared statement.