Cisco's NERV Enables Communications During Catastrophic Events

Cisco's Network Emergency Response Vehicle provides communications among first responders during crisis situations such as earthquakes or hurricanes.

"We are using as much Cisco technology as possible to provide emergency communications to first responders, critical infrastructure and people like that to accomplish their mission," said Matt Wood, operational coordinator for Cisco's Tactical Operations team, in an interview with CRN at Cisco Live in Las Vegas this month.

NERV is equipped for up to four days of continuous operations without impacting the already challenged resources at a disaster site. It can be fully operational within 15 minutes and can be shut down within 15 minutes in order to redeploy in another location.

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NERV contains Cisco's Integrated Services Routers, which provide secure virtual private networks, telephony services using Cisco's Unified Communications Manager Express software, and controllers for the wireless network infrastructure.

One of the key technologies inside NERV is Cisco's IP Interoperability and Collaboration System that dissolves communication barriers between land, mobile and radio devices, according to Wood.

"It's a radio-bridging software that allows multiple radios operating at different frequencies to be fused together so everybody can hear everything on every frequency," said Wood.

Also included in NERV are Cisco access points, video cameras and Cisco's Video Surveillance Manager Software.

Powered by its on-board generator and armed with a satellite dish that provides bandwidth for voice, video and data applications, NERV has touched down at ground zero during catastrophic events including the the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.