Vendors Unveil Crisis-Ready Communication Systems At FOSE Show

That seems to be one of the themes at this year's FOSE show in Washington, D.C., with the announcements of a range of communication systems to assist government field workers in crisis mode.

"Government needs network gear deployable at the edge," said Robert Frisbee, CEO of Portland, Ore.-based PacStar, which released PacStar 3500 (left), a deployable network communications terminal that enables secure satellite communications from remote locations.

The 3500 incorporates a hardened laptop, satellite modem and military-approved firewall, and provides voice and data connectivity through a satellite minidish that is also included. The 3500 can be deployed on its own for quick, remote correspondence or in conjunction with PacStar's 5500 integrated communications appliance, which comes equipped with IQ-Core self-management software.

For their part, IBM and Cisco jointly announced their new Crisis Management Service, which provides communications, collaboration and coordination technologies, and satellite and wireless enablement. The solution integrates into a government customer's infrastructure to serve as a network communications and information hub during times of disruption.

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"We're trying to look ahead and help the customer answer questions before the actually [crisis] occurs," says Charlie Largay, global delivery executive with IBM Crisis Management Services.

IBM and Cisco will offer the end-to-end solution as a managed service, customized to the needs of the customer. The vendors said they will look to partners to provide the planning, integration, enablement and ongoing support; CACI and Redline already are leading the way with recent engagements.

"We're changing how [these capabilities] are delivered," said Bob Browning, senior manager of tactical operations at Cisco. "Rather than saying, 'Here are the products we offer and, by the way, we can provide the associated services, we're selling the service and saying, 'Oh yeah, here are the products [to support that].'"

The Crisis Management Service will be made available to government customers through existing contracting vehicles.

Among the other products announced at FOSE aimed at enhancing remote field communications were the Emergency Calling Systems from ITSAMI/WOW Technology Team, which monitors and transmits events in real-time to all first responders and officials; and the Mobile Voice and Data Unit from NEC Unified Solutions, which provides mobile voice, wireless data and video communications for those in the field.