A mesh network makes the incident response system in Dallas work.

Prevention is one thing. Responding – quickly and correctly – to incidents is quite another. Technology advances and homeland security grants have teamed up to add speed and intelligence for security officers, first responders and law enforcement personnel.

For example, the Dallas Police Department just deployed a wireless video surveillance network in an effort to reduce crime in the city’s downtown business district.

Technology from Firetide Inc., a developer of wireless mesh technology, has lead to a solution from BearCom, a Dallas-based wireless system integrator, which included Firetide wireless mesh nodes, Sony IP cameras and BridgeWave transfer units. The wireless video surveillance network was funded by a grant from the Meadows Foundation.

Incidents are monitored in the Dallas City Hall and also police headquarters.


“Our goal was to reduce crime in the downtown business district and to combat the perception of inadequate safety measures in the area,” said Deputy Police Chief Tom Lawrence. “While we did not go into the project with the concept of wireless, the benefits quickly became obvious: The mesh enables quick setup of the network without a complete overhaul, while providing excellent bandwidth and security for video streams.”

In Arlington, Va., the challenge was first responder credentials.

Right now, Arlington is piloting the nation’s first test of a new, high-tech identification card – FRAC, which stands for First Responder Authentication Credentials. Arlington has issued more than 1,400 FRAC cards to emergency services workers, enabling quick, authorized access to emergency scenes across multiple jurisdictions and agencies.

A combination of security technologies includes sensitivity to community concerns in Dallas.

During our 9/11 response, we learned that secure credentialing of first responders is essential to being able to efficiently provide critical emergency services,” said Robert P. Griffin, Arlington County’s director of emergency management. “As the home of the Pentagon and many vital federal and local facilities, Arlington places a high priority on quick and secure response — we are very pleased to pilot this program for the nation’s first responders.”

Other DHS money has created other incident response projects in the Arlington area. Arlington County is managing a pilot test of new outdoor warning system technology – sometimes referred to as “sirens” and “Giant Voice” – to see if the technology can add to the emergency communications “system of systems.”

A "giant voice" in urban areas can communicate information quickly following an incident.


Arlington’s new indoor and outdoor warning system, WAVES (Wireless Audio Visual Emergency System), from MadahCom, is designed to alert, warn and inform people of what to do before, during and after an emergency or disaster.

The outdoor warning portion of WAVES combines a horn blast with a loudspeaker, which will broadcast a clear message, giving specific instructions. The system can be tested silently, without disturbing residents. The system will also include an indoor mass notification system as well as supplement and be integrated with the region’s many other emergency notification systems.

Fully equipped survival vehicles can help security officers and first responders.

SIDEBAR: Survival Vehicle

When facing an incident, a survival vehicle is essential.

For over a year, Campa USA has been offering its Campa All Terrain Trailers to government organizations, disaster management personnel and outdoor enthusiasts. The unique design of the Campa All Terrain Trailer (ATT) and the Campa Disaster Reconnaissance System (DRS) uses a 2007 Toyota Tacoma for the build platform. The modular design of the Campa EVS easily transfers to other truck makes and models. It is designed for new vehicles and is a completely self-contained survival system.