Technology to improve emergency services communications

Thursday, 28 June, 2007


QinetiQ and Thorcom have signed an agreement that will enable emergency services to tackle a number of current data communications issues.

Thorcom has licensed QinetiQ technology that addresses bandwidth limitations on the existing TETRA communications network by using other networks without compromising security.

TETRA is the primary bearer for secure and resilient communications for emergency services and has the advantage of being dedicated to the emergency services community and a select group of additional users, such as the Highways Agency. In times of crisis, when other networks face increases in private sector traffic, emergency services users can rely on the availability of the dedicated network.

However, because of the bandwidth of the TETRA network, even with high levels of compression, there are limitations on the volume of data traffic which can be transmitted.

QinetiQ has developed multi-bearer routing technology which allows data from emergency services applications to be securely and selectively routed across different bearers.

Based on patents developed for naval applications, the technology allows highly confidential data to always be routed over the TETRA bearer, while simultaneously routing less sensitive high bandwidth data, such as still photographs, video or CCTV images, over other high-capacity bearers. If one of these bearers is lost, the application routes seamlessly over an alternative bearer, with no need for user intervention and no interruption to the service.

One major concern in linking bearers in this way is possible compromise of the secure TETRA bearer via the alternative bearers. The company has created a software engine which is designed in a secure manner.

The company will provide additional accreditation consultancy as the software is migrated onto the Thorcom VR2000 product platform. This will ensure that Thorcom incorporates the QinetiQ routing software in such a way that the security of the TETRA bearer will not be compromised, and will create the emergency service industry's first accreditable multi-bearer routing product.

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