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Mobile Dependence Is Crippling Disaster Response

Public safety reliance on public cellular and wireless networks, without significant network infrastructure improvements, means that when disaster strikes, communications fails for everyone.

If a large-scale terrorist attack took place tomorrow, would our communications infrastructure respond better, worse, or the same as on September 11? The answer might surprise you.

Despite the tremendous technological advances designed to improve public safety, our reliance on mobile devices and cellular networks has, in fact, left us more vulnerable than ever before. 

This assertion might seem sensational to some. Since 9/11 we've witnessed a dramatic shift from analog to IP-based wireless broadband communication technologies and advanced communication protocols that support voice, video, and high-speed data in real-time. This paradigm shift has opened doors to new levels of security, surveillance, and disaster response coordination that we never dreamed possible. 

An underlying problem, however, is that most of these technologies -- everything from cloud-managed wireless LAN systems to application management software and established public safety networks -- rely on the commercially available cellular wireless spectrum for connectivity.

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In light of this, it's worth examining some of the potential issues this creates should another incident occur.

Network availability

Typically, police officers and emergency responders rely on two-way radio systems to communicate and coordinate joint response efforts following major disasters. While inherent interoperability challenges have been an issue for years, it was not until significant events such as 9/11Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy that problems in infrastructure became magnified.

As a result, many law enforcement professionals increasingly rely on their own mobile devices and services, be it smartphones, tablets, or even Skype, in order to circumvent communication roadblocks during mission-critical operations.

Read the rest of this article on Network Computing


Marty Lamb is responsible for software and firmware development for all of Rajant's products, and he designed and implemented Rajant's cryptographic architecture and cryptographic validation efforts. Mr. Lamb is also the creator and maintainer of several open source software ... View Full Bio

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