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Turn First Responder Vehicles Into Mobile Communications Centers

By Jaimy Ford for America's Backbone Weekly

On a hunch, a police officer plugs a license plate number into her laptop and realizes she is tailing a murder suspect wanted for shooting two cops in another state. She sends for back up and waits for reinforcements before attempting to arrest him, greatly reducing her chance of being killed in action.

In an ambulance equipped with LifePak 15, a portable defibrillator/heart monitor that can transmit EKG data over the Internet, a paramedic sends critical data to a hospital's secure health care information system so that ER personnel can prep for a critical patient's arrival, saving precious time, and ultimately, his life.

On their way to a massive fire, firefighters view building blueprints and diagrams to plan how best to evacuate the building and put out the fire, minimizing the risk to their own safety and ensuring everyone gets out alive.

All these scenarios—and more—are made possible because first responders are now accessing the Internet from their vehicles using mobile broadband routers. When time is critical, instant Internet access to GPS positioning, medical databases, and instant communication saves lives.

With the right technology, you can turn first responder vehicles into mobile communication centers—and drastically improve the effectiveness of each vehicle on the road.

Businesses such as MaxxFi and Sierra Wireless specialize in custom-built high speed broadband connectivity solutions designed specifically for emergency response teams. Other well-known industry leaders are creating similar offerings, such as Cisco's Mobile Network Solutions for Public Safety.

Additionally, many budget-friendly, easy-to-install products are available that can turn vehicles into mobile command centers. The ZTE Unite™ II Mobile Hotspot, for example, allows you to connect any Wi-Fi enabled device, including laptops and tablets, to any mobile network you choose. It and similar devices tap into 3G and 4G cellular networks and can wirelessly share that data connection with any device within around 30 feet.

Mobile hotspots are fast enough to support video streaming and image downloading. Most important, however, a single hotspot can provide signals to multiple people on multiple devices.

What you choose entirely depends on your needs, budget and location.

More specialized systems obviously cost more, and you'll likely need an expert to install them. However, such systems are designed specifically to meet the needs of first responders. On the other hand, mobile hotspots can be purchased off the shelf for as little as $50 and require little or no installation to get them up and working; however, they may not offer the options, coverage or power that more expensive options do.

Even the most basic mobile hotspots offer some security, something to keep in mind as you make your choices. If personnel are accessing medical and criminal records for example, you need to ensure any connection is completely secure.

There are limitations to what these devices can do, and their effectiveness depends on your coverage. If you can't get cell service in a specific area, you may have connectivity issues even with more elaborate systems. In most cases you will need a data plan for each device, and data usage can be costly depending on how much the Internet is accessed on a day-to-day basis.

Still, given the advantages Internet connectivity offers first responders, the cost is usually worth it. Officers can be connected to state and federal criminal databases at all times, paramedics can quickly access electronic patient care records, and fire fighters gain extensive information at their fingertips to help better manage a fire.

This technology makes public safety personnel more efficient, effective—and much safer—while better enabling them to protect the public.

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Jaimy Ford is a professional business writer withnearly a decade's worth of experience developing newsletters, blogs, e-letters,training tools and webinars for business professionals. She contributes to bothThe Intuit Small Business Blog and Docstoc.com. She also serves as editor-in-chief of SalesMastery, a digital magazine writtenspecifically for sales professionals.
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  • Turn First Responder Vehicles Into Mobile Communications Centers by DMN Editorial at Mar. 11, 2016 12:01 pm gmt

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