Avionics News March 2018 - 46

Satcom Direct's data center
in Melbourne, Florida

THE CALL AFTER THE STORM
Continued from page 45

"That communications solution facilitated the first
responders' ability to communicate the distribution of the
food, water, fuel and medical resources needed throughout the
region," Smith said.
Amidst the devastation, Inmarsat's Global Xpress services
enabled emergency workers to communicate via high-throughput
connectivity. The SD/COMSAT/Cisco teams worked closely
with the local and federal government representatives to target
functional repeater sites for potential restoration.
The team also coordinated with the engineers who designed
the Land Mobile Radio system to understand the most-efficient
way to quickly restore communications to the isolated regions,
including determining what additional equipment would be
required to effectively patch into the existing communications
architecture. The group also was tasked with configuring and
testing the equipment prior to its deployment.
"The team worked tirelessly during a 48-hour period to
gather the required equipment, configure the equipment to
support a new alternative communications path, test the solution
for functionality, and coordinate with the federal and local
governments to support the logistics of moving a team out to
one of the designated LMR sites for communications restoral,"
Smith said. "The team developed and implemented a solution
that provided a network path using satellite communications to
extend the services back to San Juan where LMR traffic would
be re-injected into the repeater network and redistributed over
the functional repeater system.
"The quick thinking and tireless efforts by the team brought
the entire northwest corner of the island back online, providing
the Puerto Rican government, federal support elements, and
first responders the ability to quickly provide the situational
46

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march

2018

awareness of the relief effort. The designed plug-and-play
solutions allowed for quick and easy duplication to other
affected regions that still had a functional local LMR repeater
service, and allowed for easy transition to the original network
once the primary communications could be restored."
Smith added that the communications solution was
considered a huge success by the federal and local
governments, allowing them the ability to communicate with
the once-isolated region to assist in determining the severity
of the devastation, and how best to provide the available
resources to support the relief effort.
Business as unusual
After the initial wave of getting communications set up for
lifesaving first responders, Satcom Direct's headquarters was
contacted by the management of the island's Wyndham hotel
property, which was providing food and lodging for residents as
well as emergency workers and needed reliable communications
back to the states.
"Wyndham commissioned us to fly one of our company's
aircraft down there to be used as a secure network hub,"
Stevenson said. "They were then able to securely transact credit
cards and order supplies - things they needed to do to manage
the facility. It was an interesting challenge."
"The whole thing serves as a reminder that every business
needs to understand and plan for what they need to keep it up
and running if they don't have the ability to communicate through
normal channels," Smith said. "And don't rely on a cellular data -
it isn't a reliable source in these situations. If the cell tower survives
the storm, there is a high likelihood it will be overwhelmed by a
high volume of people trying to communicate the emergency.
"Even if the cell networks are working, they are quickly
overtaxed. As we saw in Puerto Rico, when people could get
a cell signal, it was so clogged up that the data pipes were



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