mutualink-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

mutualink-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

A National Vision for an Inclusive Interoperable Communications Sharing Platform


Despite a decade of significant investments and concerted efforts, a pervasive, national communications interoperability solution for emergency response has remained a bridge too far, with at best, small pockets of interoperable communications ability existing among a few select agencies. Emergency events such as the World Trade Center attacks, the Columbine School shootings, hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Aurora, CO movie theater shootings and host of other natural, accidental and man-made incidents exposed and will continue to expose the persistent and prevailing problem of a lack of effective coordinated communications between first responders and other emergency support and critical infrastructure organizations that are critical to responding to, mitigating and recovering from disasters. Perhaps we have been trying to solve the wrong problem, or at least we have been trying to solve it the wrong way. In this paper, we argue that a broad-based national interoperable communications and multimedia collaboration platform can be achieved quickly and affordably through an everything-over-IP (EOIP) sovereign-controlled, peer-based virtual network. This approach leverages existing communications and media infrastructure as well as next generation broadband efforts, to create an adaptive, resilient and scalable collaboration framework that achieves ubiquitous capabilities among first responders as well as critical infrastructure entities.

As was just articulated, the need is known, the policy exists, the participants have been identified, the challenges understood, and the technology now exists to create a national capability that securely unites the communication resources of those charged with protecting life and property from both the public and private sectors onto a national Interoperable Response And Preparedness Platform (IRAPP). The IRAPP’s inherent capabilities allow new, existing, and vintage communication systems to share communication resources through a methodology of securing existing terrestrial and wireless IP-based networks.

The momentum for a national secure multimedia communication resource sharing capability is growing throughout the Country. The Northern California Regional Intelligence Center sponsors CAL IRAP, an alliance of agencies and private sector entities that share information and collaborate in real time on a daily basis. There is no longer a reason why every community in our country does not have agencies and key infrastructure seamlessly communicating and collaborating in real time during times of crisis. National multi-media interoperability and resource sharing can be achieved immediately with the CAL IRAP system; the key to this effort starts with community leaders being willing to transform their communities for the good, in a simple yet powerfully effective way. With Mutualink, interoperability is achieved without complex and costly large-scale communications projects. Instead, a new transformative and incremental approach can be taken that catapults communities forward. Through these many acts of community leadership, a national fabric will be woven into existence solving our nation’s emergency communications challenges.


Steve Scott is in charge of leading Corporate and Business Development activities with Mutualink in the Western US. He has over twenty-five years of experience working with public safety clients, homeland security and critical infrastructure and key resource providers on helping them identify and meet their mission critical communications requirements. As CAL IRAP Program Manager, Steve works very closely with each CAL IRAP Member through every aspect of implementation, out reach, engagement and expansion.