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A Case In Point: Emergency Communications
By Michel Zimet, Director Marketing & Strategy, ND SatCom

Telecommunication infrastructure provides thecritical path for relief in emergency and disastersituations. Communications connect and help move logistical, rescue and first responder resources in any region of the world facing orrecovering from natural or man-made disasters.

CaseFig1 Deploying wireless communications is typically among the first priorities in any emergency response, rescue, or relief situation. However, terrestrial wireless equipment (cellular phones or land mobile radios) is only useful when communication towers and other fixed equipment are in place to connect wireless handsets to the local and globalcommunications backbone. In the majority of emergencysituations, this infrastructure has either been destroyed by the disaster or is not available in the first place. This reality makes it critical for local government and emergency workers to have access to a wireless communications network that is independent of terrestrial infrastructure.br />
CaseFig2 Satellite-based communication allows first responders at a disaster site to work independently from any terrestrial telecommunications infrastructure. Generally, a satellite link is the only means to guarantee reliable communication under all circumstances.

ND SatCom's SKYWAN satellite network solution for emergency response and disaster management provides terrestrial independent communications capabilitieswherever and whenever they are needed. The solution combines high quality VSAT connectivity matching the performance of terrestrial networks with simultaneous support for data, video and voice traffic to multiple locations while guaranteeing quality of service. In addition, the inherent flexibility of the SKYWAN platform allows the emergency response network topology to be tailored to the network's Emergency Communications Network Topology changing communication requirements at a moment's notice by enabling any-to-any single-hop connectivity between remote locations, regional command centers and emergency management headquarters.

CaseFig3 The Customer Challenge
The Chinese Earthquake Administration Bureau is currently operating an ND SatCom SKYWAN satellite network to support their emergency response and disaster management communication requirements. Prior to implementing a SKYWAN solution, the Earthquake Bureau was running a star based VSAT network supporting very low bit rate (up to 76.8kbps) SCADA applications to approximately 100 sites. However, the Bureau, needed an emergency response and disaster management network solution that could support the following requirements:

A satellite network that is fully independent of existing infrastructure with no terrestrial backhaul facilities between satellite hub locations and regional or headquarter emergency response centers
Highly flexible broadband any-to-any connectivity capabilities between remote sites, regional centers and emergency management headquarter locations, to support applications such as video conferencing and high quality video transmission from affected sites
Data, voice and video traffic support with guaranteed quality of service
Support for both mobile and transportable stations in order to provide access to any remote location in affected areas
Pre-configured satellite terminals with quick deploy antenna systems

CaseFig4 After evaluating a number of alternatives, the ND SatComSKYWAN platform was selected as the satellite network solution that best fulfilled these needs.

The Solution
The SKYWAN based emergency VSAT satellite communication network supports coordinated relief efforts between Chinese first responders in affected sites, regional command centers setup in proximity to disaster areas and the Earthquake Administration Bureau's headquarters in Beijing.

The nationwide network consists of a central hub/master station in the headquarter site with a geographically redundant backup master in Kunming, 19 provincial capital fixed stations (each of which can be configured as regional hubs for provincial command center operations), five Communications-On-The-Pause (COTP) vehicle stations, two Communications-On-The-Move (COTM) vehicles, and 14 Flyaway stations.

The nationwide network is split into two sub-networks:One for daily conventional data traffic and one dedicated to crisis communication with the hub station in Beijing. Fixed terminals as well as various vehicle-based stations and transportable Fly-Away antenna systems can be rapidly deployed to disaster impacted areas for communication to the regional command centers.

CaseFig5 The ND SatCom SKYWAN solution supports one-way high quality video transmission, two-way video conferencing, VoIP, data communication, file transmission, and Internet access 24/7 from any site in the network. Without the use of any terrestrial facilities, and only by means of the SKYWAN high bandwidth network infrastructure, a large number of images and videos of an earthquake affected area can be transmitted from the disaster site to Earthquake Administration Bureau headquarters in a matter of seconds. During disaster situations, video conferences are held on a continual basis giving the central command unit a much better understanding of the disaster situation.

The Bureau had originally planned to implement a fixed configuration for their emergency response satellite network, as shown in the diagram.

Following the devastating Sichuan earthquake in 2008, and using the SKYWAN platform's inherent flexibility, the network was rapidly reconfigured to accommodate the much more dispersed and complex communication requirements that needed to be deployed in the wake of this disaster.

CaseFig6 Although these requirements were much more complex than previously envisaged by the Earthquake Administration Bureau, the SKYWAN based network was able to seamlessly deliver the necessary connectivity and bandwidth with less than 100ms of reconfiguration time.

With the latest earthquake incident in Sichuan province causing repeated destruction to the area's telecommunication infrastructure, the Chinese Earthquake Administration Bureau was, once again, able to put its emergency response and disaster management satellite network to good use.

CaseFig8 The solution's high level of reliability, along with its ability to deliver broadband connectivity between all sites in the network independent of existing terrestrial facilities, has allowed the Chinese Earthquake Administration Bureau to rapidly respond to this latest disaster in a highly coordinated and effective manner.

Today, thanks to a satellite communication network built around the highly flexible SKYWAN platform, emergency responders in China are gaining a new edge in situations where access to critical information at a moment's notice can mean the difference between life and death.

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