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Covia Labs Launches Communications Interoperability Platform

February 10, 2012  | 

Covia Labs, Inc. has launched Alert & Respond, a software platform that offers a cost-effective way for public safety to integrate consumer smartphones and commercially available devices into their operations, according to the company.

Alert & Respond expands command and control as well as situational awareness capabilities available to public safety personnel beyond what is available with voice-only communication, according to a release.

"Today's commercial smartphones have a host of features useful for public safety, from the ability to geotag photos and video, to using GPS to locate an officer in the field," said Ron Levine, chief of the Foothill-De Anza College District Police. "Unfortunately, there has been no solution that enables public safety to utilize all of these features optimally."

Alert & Respond is a software platform that merges the data and functionality found on multiple, diverse devices and equipment into one, fully integrated system. Regardless of hardware, operating system or platform, Alert & Respond creates a single interoperable system. A designated administrator or multiple users can manage and utilize the resources of all devices on the platform.

"As the debate continues in Washington, D.C. about the proposed public safety broadband network, Alert & Respond offers an immediate solution to enable the use of sophisticated broadband devices," said David Kahn, chief executive of Covia Labs. "Since Alert & Respond creates an independent and encrypted communications system, it can operate across existing carrier networks to supplement existing radio equipment and private networks, with greater coverage and richer media."

Alert & Respond enables public safety to utilize all of the features of increasingly advanced, commercially available smartphones, including voice, video, compass, GPS, memory, storage and maps. It gives dispatchers, commanders and frontline first responders the media-rich integrated information they need in emergency situations to carry out efficient, highly coordinated responses that save lives while greatly reducing the likelihood of life-threatening situations. Capabilities of the system include National Incident Management System (NIMS) administration, push to talk functionality, message playback, talk-around capabilities when out of range of a cell tower, "Blue Force" tracking of the real-time location of personnel, text messaging, sharing of images, and GPS.  All voice, text and images are geotagged with precise GPS locations and, along with Blue Force tracking of personnel and vehicles, are available to commanders during operations and after-action reviews, according to Covia Labs.

By using Alert & Respond, an agency can permit other agencies to join an operation, providing them with the software and credentials to participate.  All existing information on the operation is automatically synchronized to their PC's and mobile devices so that they are instantly up-to-date and can immediately contribute.

Alert & Respond can also work in tandem with existing land mobile radio (LMR) systems. In this use case, personnel would carry both a smartphone and a LMR radio. While there would be a single microphone interface for the two devices, the smartphone would be the primary communicator, deferring to the LMR radio when the user was out of range of the LTE network, such as in the basement of a large building or in a remote area.

Alert & Respond is built on Covia's patented DART (Dynamic Adaptive Run-Time) technology platform that has the ability to rapidly form ad hoc teams of devices into securely encapsulated operations networks. It uses an entirely new approach to unifying the operations and securing access to media and controls across devices and synchronization of messages, media and data by running a unification program called the Covia Connector. A new type of sophisticated cross-device super application, called Connected Applications run on the Connector to form collaborative Operation networks.

"Alert & Respond has provided us with the means to better communicate when events are taking place within our jurisdiction," said Levine, who participated in the beta testing of the platform. "For example, we had an event on campus with a major international political figure. Alert & Respond enabled all of our officers to have a comprehensive view of the security operations in real-time, while also intercommunicating with other federal and international security details operating at the event."

Alert & Respond is a SaaS based system that can be deployed and set up in minutes, interconnecting different police departments, hospitals, federal agencies, first responders, and members of the public without developing a new communications infrastructure or purchasing new devices.

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