World events push broadband bid

Joint European/US efforts to develop advanced broadband mobile technologies for
emergency and disaster relief services are to be stepped up following recent world events.

Joint European/US efforts to develop advanced broadband mobile technologies foremergency and disaster relief services are to be stepped up following recent world events.

Project MESA (Mobility for Emergency and Safety Applications) was given high priority status at this month’s summit of global telecoms and wireless standards bodies in Australia in response to events in the US and Afghanistan.

MESA aims to develop very high capacity broadband mobile technologies and applications for use by the emergency services, disaster relief agencies and other public protection bodies.

These would be based on agreed international standards, and means that equipment could be used across different services and countries. They would offer data capacities well above those available on standard public networks and would incorporate a high level of security.

Satellites will play a key role in the project, because of their ability to enable communication with even the remotest areas.

Delegates at the Global Standards Collaboration summit in Sydney adopted MESA as a priority project after hearing that the terrorist attacks in the US placed a huge strain on the public telecoms networks and communications technologies used by the emergency services.

Fears that a concerted attack on the telecoms infrastructure could cripple the ability of agencies to respond gave the project a new urgency, according to the Telecoms Industry Association head of special projects Dan Bart.

‘The work of MESA needs to be accelerated to bring forward the specifications and standards that can serve the needs of public safety communities around the world,’ Bart said.

The TIA – the US telecoms industry body – and its European counterpart the ETSI are running MESA as a joint project. Potential users of the technology, ranging from local fire services to the Red Cross and United Nations, are also involved.

As well as giving emergency workers a common communications platform, MESA hopes to create applications that can be used in specific rescue technologies. Potential uses include providing paramedics with remote, online patient monitoring equipment that can be used at the scene of disasters.

MESA is also interested in developing wireless technology for robots which can be sent to inspect hazardous areas, put out fires or clear minefields.