Keywords: emergency management, mobile communications, mobile command post, incident commander, first responder, crisis response, Man-portable and Interoperable Tactical Operation Centre, MITOC, rural communities, USA, United States
Robust and affordable mobile communications for emergency management
During any emergency, reliable communications can be a matter of life-and-death. First-responder communications are widely seen as a critical emergency management issue identified by Hurricane Katrina in the USA, and the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. In cooperation with national, regional, and local emergency management organisations, a US research consortium has developed and demonstrated robust and affordable mobile communications systems particularly well suited for field operation in rural communities. This paper describes the development and demonstration at major public events and actual emergencies of a Man-portable and Interoperable Tactical Operation Centre (MITOC) which was funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. The result is a state-of-the-art mobile communications system that can be transported in a single small vehicle that upon arrival at an emergency is quickly transfigured into a robust command post with satellite communications, laptop computers, and other systems essential for organising and executing emergency management and crisis response.