Arlington County, Va., sets up wireless system to help Pentagon rescue efforts

Arlington County, Va., sets up wireless system to help Pentagon rescue efforts

The Pentagon's home county and a group of volunteers from industry applied the finishing touches to a wireless LAN and Internet access system today to help with the search, rescue and cleanup after last week's terrorist attack.

Personnel from Arlington County, Va.'s, Technology Services Office and volunteers from AT&T Corp., Avaya Inc. of Basking Ridge, N.J., and Signal Corp. of Fairfax, Va., built the system from scratch, starting Sunday at midnight. The system will give officials and rescue workers access to e-mail, networked printers and federal, state and local databases and information.

'We were in a situation where we had to find a solution to get access to the Internet where we didn't have any,' said Jack Belcher, Arlington County CIO. 'We leveraged our partners and made it happen out of nothing.'

Avaya and AT&T provided both equipment and technical knowledge in putting up antennas with clear lines of sight and in configuring the equipment.

The system works when a wireless device using IEEE 802.11b, or WiFi, protocol searches for the signal, and antennas transmit it to Arlington's server, which returns an IP address to connect to the Web.

'We basically are setting up a second emergency operations center,' Belcher said. 'We had to get this done because every second that ticks by that this isn't up, we are not helping the situation. Two days is not too bad to get this up and running.'

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