IBM to build wireless safety network for Washington area

Public-safety and transportation agencies in the nation's capital area yesterday chose IBM Corp. to build the Capital Wireless Integrated Network spanning 40 federal, state and local organizations. CapWIN, under pilot for about a year, gives police, firefighters, transportation officials and emergency workers wireless access to multiple government data sources.

Charles Samarra, police chief of Alexandria, Va., and chairman of the CapWIN executive committee, said public-safety agencies 'have to change the way we do business.' The emergency responders can consult various government databases and talk in restricted-access chat mode via an instant messaging application on PCs, handheld computers or Web-enabled wireless phones.

Fred Davis, the program's deputy director and a retired state trooper, said, 'Working accidents, I would have loved to talk to the Transportation Department' about accidents or spills on interstate highways. He said he has tried out CapWIN across the jurisdictions' disparate networks, and he believes it will 'revolutionize communications for public safety.' CapWIN operates out of the University of Maryland's Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies with funding from the U.S. Office of Justice Programs.

IBM will supply the communications bridge to all the participating agencies in Washington, Maryland and Virginia. The IBM First-Responder Interoperability Solution will run on a cluster of eServer pSeries Unix platforms with message routing via IBM WebSphere. Other components are Informant data-sharing software from Templar Corp. of Alexandria and rugged mobile hardware from Pelican Mobile Computers Inc. of Glen Burnie, Md. PB Farradyne Inc. and TeleCommunication Systems Corp. will provide consulting and implementation services.

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