Intrado Plans Backup 9-1-1 System Using HF Communications (12/19/12)
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 | Comments

Intrado plans to offer a new backup emergency HF radio solution to support public safety, hospitals, nuclear power plants, utilities, transportation and other critical infrastructure providers. For the first time these organizations will have access to highly reliable HF radio spectrum, previously reserved for maritime operations.

As part of the plan, Intrado secured an exclusive agreement with ShipCom, a U.S. high-frequency (HF) civilian maritime radio network operator authorized by the FCC to provide emergency communications on land when existing communications infrastructure is inoperable.

In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina crippled the Gulf region’s primary communications system infrastructure, ShipCom's maritime HF frequencies were used by the Coast Guard to communicate on land during its Katrina-related operations and were the primary method of communications in the rescue of more than 33,000 people. As a result, in 2010 the FCC granted ShipCom a waiver to operate its HF maritime network frequencies on land during emergencies when a man-made or natural disaster renders existing communications infrastructure inoperable.

“We plan on making an emergency HF backup communications option available to 9-1-1 dispatch and emergency operations centers, hospitals, first responders, providers of critical infrastructure, and federal, state and local agencies,” said George Heinrichs, cofounder and president of Intrado.

Beyond maritime use, HF is used by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies.

“Hospitals in America rely on the hard work, patriotism and volunteerism of ham radio operators to be their emergency communications system,” said Stephen Meer, cofounder and chief technology officer (CTO) of Intrado. “This new network will greatly expand the capabilities available to hams during these times of crisis and will back up their efforts with an immediately available, sophisticated HF radio network interoperable with the E9-1-1 infrastructure. Hospitals and other critical agencies will have seamless, reliable, encrypted and redundant HF radio capability, giving them immediate connectivity to the outside world in the event of a disaster that renders their other communications systems unusable.”

The new Intrado HF 9-1-1 service will begin deployment in the next 90 – 120 days, starting with public safety, hospitals, nuclear reactors and other critical infrastructure.

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