Helping first responders by developing a leading-edge communications network

Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The University of Ottawa and the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), Canada's largest high-technology association, have joined forces to create a new communications network to help first responders in Ottawa overcome critical challenges.

The First Responder Networked Vehicle Test-Bed is a pilot project that aims to improve communication between emergency vehicles. It will help all emergency services, including police, paramedics and fire departments, to work with each other and with the private and academic sectors to develop and test future communications technologies under real-life conditions.

The system will allow first responders to experiment with long-term evolution (LTE) wireless broadband communications. It will enable responders, who are currently restricted to voice communication, to send and receive high-definition video to and from emergency vehicles. Among other applications, the system will also equip emergency vehicles with the capability to undertake X-ray mapping of hazardous materials found in buildings or along roadways.

“One of the primary nodes of the First Responder Networked Vehicle Test-Bed will be based at the University of Ottawa,” said Hussein Mouftah, Canada Research Chair in Wireless Sensor Networks and Distinguished University Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Ottawa. “We are planning to include a team of researchers and the necessary lab space.”

About a dozen partners are involved in the development of the First Responder Networked Vehicle Test-Bed, including Alcatel-Lucent, Industry Canada's Communications Research Centre, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, the Department of National Defence and municipal departments representing the police, emergency medical response and fire services. There is also an agreement to partner with a sister test-bed in Greenville, South Carolina, home to auto giants such as BMW.

“Alcatel-Lucent is currently examining pricing options for a range of test-bed formats,” said Rick Turner, government and strategic services, Alcatel-Lucent. “These range from a simple installation of two towers, in Kanata and at uOttawa, to a fully integrated ‘intelligent corridor' running 20 kilometres along Highway 417 between the two sites.”

According to Michael Sullivan, program director for the City of Ottawa, the city “is interested in participating and in providing antenna locations along the proposed route.”

Integrating emergency vehicles into a highly connected network covering safety, traffic and efficient use of energy, among other communications requirements, will have a great impact on how first responders do their job, ultimately ensuring their safety and better protecting the public from harm.

For details on the First Responder Networked Vehicle Test-Bed, please contact:
Barry Gander, co-founder, Networked Vehicle Association


Néomie Duval
Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 2981
Cell: 613-863-7221

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