Serving the needs of critical communications systems

Recent emergency situations, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and this week in China bring it home to us that when disasters like these occur, the emergency services and the general public who are directly affected rely heavily upon communication systems to co-ordinate rescue efforts and receive the most up-to-date information.

As a supplier of enabling technology that often gets installed into the communication systems used by emergency services, Aculab has a duty to enable such systems to operate flawlessly, to provide communications clarity and to offer utmost reliability.

Several recent technological advances are playing their part in providing world-class Integrated Command and Control Systems (ICCS):

The first example is a technique we have developed to enable the concept of equipment duplication used in TDM communications systems to give 'five 9s' reliability in an IP-based communication system. The Dual Redundant SIP Service (DRSS) enables the SIP stack used for the call control to be duplicated over separate hardware platforms to give much improved fault tolerance capabilities. By keeping the two SIP stacks synchronised, a call being set up or in progress will not  be dropped even if the main server fails mid-call or during call set-up.

Another example where new technology will give advantages to emergency communications system developers is in the adoption of video codecs and wideband audio (HD voice) codecs on communication platforms. In a critical communication scenario such as a 999/911/112 call, to be able to have the best call clarity is obviously an advantage. In the UK, a system called Silent Solutions is used to deal with silent calls made to the emergency services. Accidental 999 calls happen all the time, but how do operators know when a silent call can actually be a real call for help? In a recent murder case, a teenager was abducted but managed to make a 999 call on her mobile, however, she was unable to speak and the call was disconnected moments later. Had this call been a wideband call, then the operator might have been able to make out more of the low level background conversation and determine that this girl was in danger.

Video communication capability can also offer extended benefits to emergency communication systems - sometimes providing a visual link can portray a situation in greater clarity and with greater speed than an audio conversation alone. For emergency calls to/from people with disabilities such as deafness, the ability to convey a message visually can be vital.

To find out more, the emergency services page on the Aculab website is a good starting point; or if you are planning to be in London next week at the BAPCO exhibition, then drop by our booth (452).
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