Orange County's Mobile Command Post Features Communications Interoperability

A national trend toward providing seamless communications for regional public safety agencies took a big step forward recently, as Orange County, Florida, and the city of Orlando took delivery of a powerful new mobile communications vehicle.

Their new Urban Area Command Post will link up day-to-day and emergency communications, serving the citizens of Orlando, Orange County and the surrounding counties of Brevard, Lake, Seminole, Osceola and Volusia.

The new mobile Command Post is equipped with a unique technology – the AWINS radio interoperability system - developed by ARINC Inc. It was built by MBF Industries of Sanford, Fla., and it is only the second vehicle of its type in the country.

AWINS links all types of emergency radio systems in use by public safety agencies. The new Florida vehicle can interconnect 13 different emergency radio systems, phone systems, and data networks used by Orlando, Orange County and nearby jurisdictions.

Inside the specially designed 45-foot command vehicle are nine computerized consoles where radio operators can monitor emergency messages and link separate local radio systems together with the click of a mouse. They can instantly connect police and fire personnel, law enforcement, county government, or national agencies to talk together as needed.

"We saw how much the first mobile AWINS system helped local emergency agencies and the National Guard after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans," said Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary. "That helped convince us AWINS interoperability would be a real asset here – both for day-to-day operations and for our next emergencies."

The AWINS vehicle in Katrina was the nation's first, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and operated by the Anne Arundel County, Md., Emergency Department. The new Florida vehicle was funded by a DHS urban core grant awarded for the core city of Orlando and core county of Orange.

AWINS technology handles all types of modern communications including Land Mobile Radio, VoIP telephone, cellular, live video, and satellite links. It complements all existing radio systems and infrastructures, and gives user communities the ability to communicate readily without sacrificing their current investments in radio equipment.

"AWINS provides a cost-effective, scalable solution for local agency interoperability – and it is seamless to the end users," stated Marvin Ingram, ARINC senior director, Public & Enterprise Solutions. "It is also fully standards-based, to keep the initial cost as low as possible and provide a barrier-free path to upgrades."

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