Plymouth University joins European project to improve comms between emergency services

Plymouth University has teamed up with experts across Europe in a project to develop new technology that will allow emergency services to communicate together more effectively.

Mar 8, 2012
By Paul Jacques

Plymouth University has teamed up with experts across Europe in a project to develop new technology that will allow emergency services to communicate together more effectively.

The university has received funding in the region of £397,000 (478,000 euro) from the European Union to take part in the project, named ‘Geryon’.

Currently, emergency services throughout Europe, such as police, fire brigade, ambulance services and coastguard, use various systems to communicate. This project looks at bringing different systems together using a new technology to enable better interoperability. It aims to ensure seamless communications regardless of access and take advantage of broadband networks.

Dr Nathan Clarke, Associate Professor from the University’s Centre for Security, Communications and Network Research (CSCAN), said: “There are currently different types of telecommunication systems being used by the emergency services, but the interoperability of systems remains a huge challenge. The aim of this project is to bring a standardised approach for communications so all parties can communicate collectively.”

The project will also include first responder networks, for example emergency call buttons in accommodation for the elderly, and people with special needs.

Dr Clarke added: “It’s not about replacing systems, but providing a level of technology for systems to interoperate effectively. It’s also looking at how to improve what emergency networks currently provide, by increasing the level of services available.

“For example, current mobile phones and networks are capable of real-time video-conferencing – a service which would be extremely useful in a variety of emergency situations but which are not currently compatible with emergency systems. The new technology will allow for that footage to be piped straight through to emergency networks for the police and other emergency services to view and respond to.”

The university is the only UK-based partner in the seven-strong project consortium, which includes representatives from Spain, Greece and France. The two-and-a-half year project is being led by Dr Lingfen Sun with Professor Steven Furnell and Dr Clarke from the School of Computing and Mathematics and a team of three research fellows from Plymouth University.

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