PacketHop solution deployed in Homeland Security exercise
Mobile mesh software provider PacketHop this week announced that its Aware application suite was used at the Long Beach, Calif., airport during a Homeland Security exercise that simulated a terrorist planting a weapon of mass destruction within one of buildings at the airport.
Long Beach police and fire vehicles used all four features of the ad hoc mesh-enabled Aware suite—multimedia messaging, location tracking, multicast video and whiteboarding capability—operating in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands, Packethop President and CEO Michael Howse said.
“The vehicles pulled up to the scene and formed an incident-area network using PacketHop software loaded on their mobile data computers,” Howse said. “They were able to have a local network around the containment area and could share video, messages and information from multiple perspectives without the requirement for infrastructure or having to predeploy anything.”
PacketHop’s software utility let Long Beach first responders reband their 5 GHz radios to operate in the 4.9 GHz spectrum dedicated to public safety and form the first mobile mesh network running on client devices in the band, Howse said.
“When we worked with the FCC on the [4.9 GHz] emissions mask a year ago, our vision was to have the ability to reband commercial radios to function in this public-safety spectrum for mission-critical, broadband communications,” Howse said. “We think we’ve largely fulfilled that vision.” Heading the FCC’s wireless bureau during the emissions-mask debate was John Muleta, now a partner and co-chair of Venable.
“The FCC wisely dedicated 4.9 GHz spectrum to public safety so that first responders can have reliable, secure and affordable access to spectrum for their mission-critical communications,” Muleta said in a statement. “In the Long Beach exercise, it was exciting to see the first standards-based 4.9 GHz mobile implementation.”
More than 400 first responders and volunteers from 28 agencies participated in the Homeland Security exercise conducted on April 22.
“In terms of scale, I’m not familiar with any exercise that’s been larger than this one—it was pretty amazing how many people were there,” Howse said. “It was extremely well managed by both police and fire. It was a demonstration that our first responders in Long Beach really have a handle on things.”