The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the state of Missouri. In addition to being responsible for highway safety throughout the state, we often work in conjunction with other state, local, and federal agencies to respond to emergency situations, such as natural disasters or public safety incidents.
One of the issues that we ran into time and time again when working with other agencies – and an issue that occurs often in multi-agency operations across the country – was that often our communications networks weren’t interoperable. One agency used a certain kind of radio, another used a different kind. In a situation where time is of the essence, MSHP and our fellow agencies were wasting it figuring out which network to use and how to best communicate.
To fix this, we went looking for a technology solution that would help us increase interoperability and communicate quickly and easily across different agencies. To achieve this, and to generally increase the agility of our emergency response, MSHP deployed a mobile command and communications vehicle (MCCV). The MCCV can go onsite when disaster strikes and serve as a command center from which to organize multi-agency operations from the location itself. The MCCV is equipped with a suite of technology designed to make communication easier, including Cisco TelePresence technology, video surveillance, satellite communications, and IP telephony.
The vehicle also is equipped with Cisco IPICS (originally called the Cisco IP Interoperability and Collaboration System). The IPCS server software can bridge together different types of communications networks over a single, reliable, and secure IP network. That means multiple agencies can use different types of communications devices – whether different kinds of radios, computers, cell phones, or regular phones – over one network. IPICS makes it easy for agencies to communicate with each other when they respond in these emergency situations, ultimately improving the effectiveness of the operation.
We have used the MCCV with IPICS in situations such as the Joplin tornado and the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. To find out how the solution helped our agency and other law enforcement in these situations and more, check out this recent article in GCN or visit Cisco.com to see the full case study.