M/A-COM brought its demonstration bus to Chicago this week to showcase its technologies to various local government agencies, including the Chicago Transit Authority, the city’s water department and the Chicago Public Schools.

The demo to the CTA—which purchased 2000 mobile radios from the company two years ago for its bus fleet—was significant, said John Rosati, M/A-COM’s district sales manager, because transit personnel have as much need for interoperable communications as police and fire personnel. M/A-COM pitches its Internet Protocol-based technologies as a means of achieving interoperability between agencies on disparate radio systems.

“There’s no secret that transit agencies are a target these days,” Rosati said during the demonstration. “Also, transit people often are the very first responders to an incident. They’re right there when it happens.”

The bus contains the equipment required to demonstrate M-A/COM’s EDACS, OpenSky, P25IP and NetworkFirst technology platforms, as well as a compact cell site that can be mounted on a utility pole and serve as a repeater to fill coverage gaps.

The bus is unique among land mobile radio system developers, a circumstance that has helped M/A-COM competitively a according to William Clancy, M/A-COM’s area sales director.

“No one else is doing this. The bus clearly has helped us, especially with agencies that are unfamiliar with our technologies and even with our company,” he said. “They like the hands-on experience. Once they see it on the bus, they have a much better grasp of what we offer and how they can apply it to their own specific situations or geographies.”

The genesis for the bus occurred in 1987, when M/A-COM introduced EDACS. “We traveled around the country with a system that was housed in the back of a Ryder truck,” Clancy said. “That eventually evolved into the bus.”

The bus is so well equipped, according to Clancy, that public-safety agencies regularly ask to purchase it for use as a mobile incident command center. Right now, M-A/COM’s not interested but eventually will donate it to a public-safety agency in about two years when the next generation is ready to roll. Over the past two years, the bus has covered about 50,000 miles, zigzagging across the country. After Chicago, the bus will go to New Orleans for the Fire-Rescue International trade show and conference, sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, which begins August 12.