FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

DrugTest 5000 - Draeger Safety Diagnostics Inc
In the past, roadside drug screening has been difficult because it involved the...

Exclusive Webinar!

Originally aired: June 17, 2014  ● 2PM EST

View Webinar Archive Here

Integrated Law Enforcement Complements and Completes Law Enforcement Capabilities

Discover how the combination of intelligence analysis, lead generation, agency collaboration, and communications integration can help you uncover issues faster and take action sooner. Learn how innovative IBM law enforcement solutions can extend the capabilities within your organization to deal with new and emerging threats, improve officer safety, reduce criminal activity, and protect the public. 

Join IBM industry expert Stephen Dalzell and members from the MDPD, IT and homeland security departments of the Miami Dade police department to hear more!

Click here to view archive

 

Features

Wireless When You Need It

Mobile cell towers, handsets on standby, and companies’ dedicated disaster response teams can help your agency stay connected.

January 01, 2009  |  by - Also by this author


In September 2005, Hurricane Katrina knocked out communications throughout the New Orleans area, creating mass chaos. Residents couldn't call for help or find out if loved ones were safe. Making matters worse, law enforcement agencies couldn't communicate to coordinate with each other. Major communications carriers AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon mobilized their resources to bring in equipment and personnel to restore coverage for public safety. But it took several days to build the networks from the ground up. At the time, the companies didn't have divisions devoted to providing communications coverage to disaster areas.

Not every natural disaster is as devastating as Katrina. But does your agency have a plan in place that would allow you to communicate in case a similar event occurred in your jurisdiction?

Catastrophic events including lightning storms and floods can affect traditional forms of communications. Cell towers and land lines are particularly vulnerable. This is why wireless carriers now have dedicated units that provide law enforcement agencies with products and services to ensure they can communicate in even the worst disasters. Using these systems, you can respond effectively, no matter the circumstances.

COLTs and COWs

No, COLTs and COWs have nothing to do with working a ranch. They are acronyms for satellite-based communications centers that act as mobile cellular sites. And they're often the best way to put police agencies' communications back online after a disaster.

"SatColts are satellite cell on light trucks. COWs (cell on wheels) are traditionally trailers that must be hooked up to a tractor trailer rig and towed to a location," explains Tanya Linn, operations manager for Sprint's Emergency Response Team (ERT).


Both serve the same purpose, but COLTs are often preferred over COWs because they are more rugged, and can therefore get to more remote locations. They can even drive directly onto ferries or C-130 transport planes. Both COWs and COLTs can be used to replace a downed cell tower, or to bring cell service to an area too remote for coverage by other means. And with satellite IP service, they can be used to provide voice, video, and data communications for first responders in the area.

Companies can't disclose how many COLTs and COWs they have on hand or where they are located. But all wireless carriers keep several in different regions across the country, so there will always be one relatively nearby. Delivery time varies based on a number of factors. Chief among them are availability of assets and accessibility to the site. Damaged roadways and bridges can of course impact delivery time.

But another issue to keep in mind is that wireless carriers employ COWs and COLTs to restore communications to their clients, first and foremost. Companies will try to accommodate law enforcement, but they have other obligations as well.

"Our first job as a communications carrier is to provide communications coverage to consumers and businesses and people that are our clients," says Stacey Black, director of market development for AT&T. "That's our primary licensed requirement by the FCC."

This is one reason a police department might want to lease a COLT or COW. The agency can pay a monthly fee to have the vehicle kept in a nearby location on reserve.

"If an agency is interested, it can put a SatCOLT on reserve and then indicate a predesignated place where they need it sent," says Linn of Sprint's program. "By having that lease, they're the first priority for restoration, or for bringing one of those SatCOLTs in to provide their communications coverage. Four one-week deployments are included in the monthly lease pricing."

Tags: Communications, Interoperability, Hurricane Katrina, Disaster Response

Request more info about this product / service / company


Be the first to comment on this story





POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Stories

Posts for Public Consumption?
If you shot somebody tomorrow, how would the post you put online today read in the mind of...
Mission Critical Software
On a day-to-day basis, Mission Manager can help commanders and supervisors with many...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine