Gary Croke

When disasters happen, whether natural or man-made, emergency responders work in unison to protect the public.

In the case of a hurricane, even before the heavy winds bear down on communities, emergency responders are already implementing plans to help residents get out of areas at risk, safely and swiftly.

Behind the scenes utility companies, government agencies, the National Guard and many other first responders are working together to ensure the safety of Floridians and tourists alike.

As a hurricane builds, so does the need to communicate. Police departments need to coordinate with fire and rescue to ensure the most vulnerable have a route out of the path of destruction, and to provide emergency care to those unable to get to safety in time.

Many Floridians will never forget the unprecedented 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons that caused loss of life and billions of dollars of damage in Florida. In those years, no part of the state was spared. Since that time Florida communities and their leaders have taken advantage of the relatively quiet hurricane seasons to reinvest in a more robust and state-of-the-art public communications infrastructure.

More than 10 years later, microwave technology, provided to local organizations such as the Florida State Department of Transportation, the City of Ft. Lauderdale, the City of Miami Beach, and counties including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, has enhanced communication between first responders. It has also helped reduce costs, and improve local networks’ reliability and performance. As the microwave provider to these local organizations, Aviat is proud to play a part in helping these communities be prepared with additional network capacity in future weather emergencies.

However, natural and man-made disasters will continue to test the limits of this technology. As demonstrated by recent public safety incidents in Florida, during times of immediate crisis, lines of communication are often flooded by the number of individuals on the ground trying to help. The addition of more technology, such as body cameras on law enforcement officials, will only add to the onslaught of vital data that needs to shared. It’s also impossible to predict how intense future hurricanes may be. The emergency responders that have prioritized communications are entering hurricane season as well prepared as possible.

More recently, in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy churned through the East Coast, Aviat was helping to provide support for monitoring in real time. One of the AviatCare support services that we offer customers is a comprehensive Network Monitoring and Support service from our security certified North American Network Operations Center (NOC) located far from the threat of hurricanes in San Antonio, Texas. From that location, we can monitor, manage and dispatch resources to address customer issues with their networks. Even before the storm hit the Northeast U.S., our NOC was getting ready to ensure our customers would be prepared for this coming disturbance. With our ability to monitor weather events in real time, we can see immediately what is affecting a customer’s network from a weather perspective.

While preparing for hurricane season, we’ve recently seen municipalities, emergency responders, and utility companies test their communications systems — going through these table top exercises is key and lifesaving. It also means identifying the gaps and making investments to ensure that the bandwidth exists to ensure that our first responders can continue and coordinate, even in the most dire of circumstances.

Emergency communications systems need to be developed from the ground up with reliability in mind — hardened with reinforced infrastructure, redundant equipment, sturdy and robust installations, and battery backup. As technology advances, so do its demands, and communities across the state of Florida need to work to ensure they have access to the technology that supports the realities of local data demands and potential risks to the public — the health and safety of our residents depends on it.

With hurricane season starting June 1, Aviat is poised to work with local emergency responders and utility responders who have made effective communications a top priority.

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Gary Croke is Senior Director of Marketing & Strategy at Aviat Networks, a global provider of microwave networking solutions, providing public and private operators with communications networks to accommodate the exploding growth of IP-centric, multigigabit data services.

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