Ontario Fire Marshal equips truck with satellite

The province’s Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) Tuesday said it was preparing to install a second bi-directional, high-speed satellite communications system from Ottawa-based C-Com

Satellite Systems Inc. on one of its fire trucks. The OFM put the first C-Com iNetVu in a vehicle near its Ontario Fire College facility in Gravenhurst a few months ago.

OFM spokesman Tony Pacheco said the agency wants to be able to set up a command post when there is a fire at any location, especially if there is no other form of connectivity. The system will give the agency DSL-like capability inside the vehicle, C-Com said.

“”That satellite would be used to communicate with our library if we needed to download information about certain chemicals and compounds and how they react,”” Pacheco said. “”It’s basically on a support vehicle where requested anywhere in the province.””

The system consists of a 74-cm dish, about the same size as those used for fixed satellite communications on a building’s roof. The dish lays in a flat position, opens up and finds a satellite with which it connects through the click of a mouse. Satellite phones have become the norm in Northern communities, but the C-Com system is designed for laptops which connect to a controller box that links to the satellite.

C-Com president Leslie Klein pointed out that many emergency situations, like forest fires, happen well outside of urban areas where cell phones would be of little use.

“”This is going to be, in my opinion, where the cell phone industry was 20 years ago,”” he said, “”where a cell phone was a certain size and the costs were expensive and it was cumbersome, but people bought it because they wanted to be connected. We are also dealing with first adopters, people who absolutely must have it.””

Pacheco said the product will be used to assist both emergency response teams as well as incident requests from local municipal fire departments.

“”You could do just about anything that you could do for your office,”” Klein said. “”The Fire Marshal’s office actually travels with them because they have VPN connectivity to their office.””

Klein said this was the company’s first customer win with a fire marshal’s office, but C-Com has already landed a number of other clients with iNetVu, including a “”bookmobile”” program in the United States that offers children Internet access on five to 10 PCs in a vehicle.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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