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Magic Box For Mission Impossible

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Firefighters participated in emergency simulations to test technology designed to keep mobile communications and Internet access available in difficult terrain and circumstances.


Inspired by the struggles rescue workers faced following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, researchers in Norway, Spain, and Finland launched the CELTIC project DeHiGate to develop technology that ensures the use of phones and the Internet even in difficult, remote terrain and chaotic situations. "Our idea was to make a sophisticated box that you could connect to all kinds of communications centers like satellite and wireless, a box that emergency services could take with them instead of a big satellite dish," says Thales researcher Vidar Karlsen. He says the challenge was developing and testing new software to make the box work the way the researchers wanted.

Spanish telecoms operator Telefonica developed a way to use large servers on the move, making it possible to deploy large networks in remote areas. Firefighters participated in simulations testing the technology, including testing emergency ad hoc radio stations to deploy communications, Internet access, and video-sharing capabilities, which allows emergency responders to track where every emergency worker is in real time.

The researchers say the technology could have uses beyond emergency response. "The results and the ideas which came up in this project, both in terms of architecture and applications, have been the foundation for the development of a large project about personalization, advertising, and the use of telephone directory services," says Telefonica's Erik Miguel.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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