During Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, many public safety professionals and organizations used distributed VoIP software, not hardware, to coordinate their unrelated proprietary radio systems.
Provided by Twisted Pair Solutions, the company's WAVE technology software system coordinated a variety of VHF, UHF, 800 MHz, 700 MHz, and P25 hardware for Air Evac Lifeteam (AEL), which carried out hundreds of critical evacuations during the hurricanes.
In addition to radios and established analog phone systems, WAVE can also connect to new IP phone systems, PCs, and PDAs.
"The majority of hardware radios aren't designed to work together," said James Mustarde, Twisted Pair's director of marketing, in an interview. "But we can convert the hardware into software. The beauty of the software is that we can mimic scans to look like hardware." The WAVE system is IP-based and a multitude of different communication standards can be converged on a single screen for easy use by a dispatcher or operator.
AEL, which handles calls for emergency air medical services for more than 1,300 hospitals and EMS agencies across a 13-state region, said Monday that WAVE helped its members dispatch helicopter air medical evacuation teams from Texas area hospitals. AEL said several hundred critical cases were successfully evacuated using WAVE.
Mustarde described a typical case in an emergency: "How does the helicopter pilot contact the heart surgeon who is in his car?" he asked. Police escorts can be arranged and hospital technicians can be alerted. Two-way radios, PCs cell phones, and IP phones are all coordinated in standards-based IP technology. The system scales easily, making it a simple task to add more devices and configurations.
Mustarde said the use of WAVE in domestic emergency situations is relatively new. The product has a long history of defense applications.
The underlying technology had its inception in 1999 and has been added to ever since. Individual user devices with a variety of standards are melded into a WAVE domain, where they are scanned for management and security control. From there they can be bridged, recorded, joined into conferences, or routed to devices outside the system. Voice and data can be utilized and all varieties of communication protocols and devices can be converged so users can share information on a real-time basis.