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NCO Consortium Identifies Critical Emergency Responder Interoperability Gaps

WASHINGTON — The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC(TM)) today presented key findings of its Network-enabled Emergency Response (NEER) project and highlighted interoperability barriers that hinder emergency responders' ability to save lives and property. NCOIC undertook the project because response organizations -- numbering more than 100,000 in the U.S. alone -- now have little ability to share vital information in real time. This includes the U.S. military when it supports other responders during complex humanitarian disasters.

The first NEER finding is that every emergency response organization should be connected to a network that is based on Internet protocol (IP). Because IP is the international common language of data communication, NCOIC proposes that communicating "everything over IP" (EoIP) would be the first, and most essential, move toward interoperability. NCOIC opted for EoIP as a time and cost saving alternative to buying the same communication devices for thousands of organizations.

"We're not talking about building a new network or asking responders to abandon their radios," said Terry Morgan, NCOIC vice-chairman. "EoIP can transmit voice, video, data and text to devices and software applications they own and operate now. In this network-centric approach, responder systems can find out who has the vital information and who is allowed to send or receive it."

The second NEER finding is that there is no nation-wide, map-defined electronic registry of all emergency response organizations, their responsibilities and their information routing information. The third gap is the absence of a system that confirms a response organization's identity and its authorization to send and receive various types of information.

"Today, sharing emergency information takes a series of phone calls, a lot of duplication and precious time that responders can't afford to lose," said David Aylward, director of COMCARE Emergency Response Alliance and vice- chairman of NCOIC's NEER effort. "Without an organizational registry and rights management, what we call 'core services,' emergency communications in the future would be like using a telephone system without a phone book and having all responders on one big conference call."

The NEER project team, which includes European industry and government leaders, is reviewing policy and technical descriptions for core services that it believes all categories of emergency responders should have. NCOIC will advocate for their near-term development, standardization and availability. The NEER project is based upon the Mobile Emergency Communications Interoperability (MECI) study, published by NCOIC in 2007 and available at http://www.ncoic.org/.

The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) is a not-for- profit multinational corporation committed to integrating existing and emerging open standards into a common evolving global framework, employing a common set of principles and processes, to assist with rapid global deployment of network-centric applications. Established in 2004, NCOIC consists of representatives from defense companies, large-scale systems integrators, information technology providers, government agencies and academia working in concert with advisory bodies consisting of government officials, standards groups and other stakeholders. For more information, visit http://www.ncoic.org/

Website: http://www.NCOIC.org

Source: Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium

Patricia Perlini of NCOIC, +1-260-676-2037, patricia.perlini@ncoic.org  

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