Cisco product connects first responders via Web

Industry is pushing for communications interoperability within the government by way of the internet.

At the Infragard 2006 National Conference in DC, Dean Zanone, Customer Solutions Manager of Cisco Systems, said that interoperability is one of the biggest thorns in the side of emergency response.

'Interoperability is the chokepoint of first responders,' he said. Zanone is Customer Solutions Manager for Cisco Systems and a retired Sergeant at the Seal Beach Police Department.

As a first responder himself, he previously had run into difficulties with a fragmented communications string that involved multiple. He said that in times of car accidents, he was sometimes forced to make judgment calls in regards to how crash victims might have been injured and relay that information to doctors in the surgery room.

'This is pretty important information to put into' a communications chain,' said Zanone.

He demonstrated Cisco's Interoperability and Collaboration System, which use the internet to connect walkie-talkies, voice-over-IP phones, push-to-talk cell phones and computer voice messaging programs. He explained that on 9/11, radios ran out of batteries and communication lines were stunted, but the internet connectivity ring still functioned. Using that as a basis for all communications would allow more prepared first responders.

Zanone also commented that not all first responders are eager to jump to a new system. He said while fire departments usually recognized the value of an interoperable communications system, police departments were less inclined to adopt due to political pressures.

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