A network in the eye of the storm
The first few hours after a hurricane strikes are crucial. But when communications are down, coordinating the emergency response is a real challenge. With Thales solutions, emergency services have access to secure, resilient 4G services to accomplish their missions in the most critical situations.
The howl of the wind is starting to die down in the former barracks where Michel is stationed. It's been a long and stressful night. But as dawn breaks, the worst of the hurricane appears to be over. Peeking through the window, Michel surveys the scene — a scene of utter devastation. His first reflex is to grab his smartphone, take a picture and send it to the command post. He knows that many of his fellow islanders would love to do the same thing, to simply send a picture to tell their loved ones they're safe. But he's the lucky one this morning. The night before, all around the barracks, he had set up Eiji, the resilient G4 connectivity solution from Thales, and its satellite backup function. His team, and the four storm-chasers from the research institute, had managed to work all night, virtually normally, using their Wi-fi connections.
Michel wonders how many of the island's base stations have withstood the onslaught. One thing's for certain: the people starting to venture outdoors don't seem too happy with their phone service this morning. His own is crackling and breaking up. The storm has passed. But more problems are just starting.
4G health network
The number one priority is to restore communications in and around the hospital to coordinate the rescue effort. Michel sends in a vehicle specially equipped to set up a Nexium Wireless secure 4G network cell covering the immediate area. The network connects to the Eiji box at the barracks with its satcom link, and minutes later, the lines are back up and running. Michel gets confirmation on his Nexium View supervision screen — and on the audio channel of his team members' onboard cameras he can literally hear the sighs of relief and gratitide of the hospital staff.
There's hardly time to fill up his coffee mug before more troubling pictures appear on his console. A patrol car escorting emergency teams on the way to a remote area in the back country has captured scenes of looting at a shopping centre. In the general confusion and with the security systems down, a dozen youths have smashed the windows of two shops and are carting off everything they can carry. Identifying the offenders can wait. The prioirity right now is to resore order and set up some kind of effective surveillance.
Using the push-to-talk function on his ruggedised smartphone, Michel places a group call to instruct the nearest connected vehicles to head over and patrol the area around the shopping centre. He monitors the situation as it unfolds on the live video streams transmitted by the panoramic cameras installed on the roofs of the vehicles. And sure enough, the police presence is enough to deter the looters and they make a quick exit — leaving behind precious footage and data which is securely stored to be used as evidence when the time comes.
Several hours later, the island's main telecom operator announces a work-around solution to restore communications in the barracks district. In a few clicks, Michel deactivates his satcom connection and connects his dedicated network to the regular terrestrial infrastrucure. With all the units still out in the field, the calls and images keep on coming — victims rescued from the rubble, vehicles swept away in the flood-waters, boats capsized in the marina and sports halls turned into emergency shelters… Everything needs to be rebuilt. It'll take time, but time is something Michel doesn't have. And neither do the survivors.