General Dynamics looks at first-responder market

General Dynamics Corp., a long-time player in the federal technology market, is preparing to enter a new government space: the state and local first-responders market.

The company's move arose from its acquisition last year of Command Systems Inc. of Fort Wayne, Ind., said Rob Doolittle, company spokesman. Command Systems' specialty was off-the-shelf command and control suites, which General Dynamics saw could fit the civilian emergency services and homeland security markets, he said.

Using technology developed for the military more than a decade ago, General Dynamics has created a new solution for a communications problem plaguing first responders: Health professionals, fire and rescue personnel, police and other groups all use different systems that frequently can't talk to each other.

General Dynamic's communications technology allows radios, tactical radios, wireline and wireless telecommunications systems to talk to each other. For example, a radio operator can place a telephone call over the radio to organizations not normally part of the communications network, such as National Guard units. Individual radios can add a modular modem unit that includes a GPS receiver, so police officers, firefighters and others on the scene of an incident don't have to report their locations.

Through an application designed for computer-aided dispatch, first responders can work from a common tracking report, allowing each party to know what actions have been taken, what has been requested and what remains to be done. Different software can handle a range of incidents, including law enforcement, municipal services, EMS and even wildfire responses.

Bob Mohr, senior manager for homeland security with General Dynamics' C4 Systems division, said the company is working with agencies in Pennsylvania to set up a beta test site, and is in negotiations with Florida for the wildfire capabilities.

In other General Dynamics news, the company won two contracts this week. The Army chose the company's Decision Systems business unit to integrate a voice and data communications system called the Secure Enroute Communications Package-Improved, which uses voice-over-Internet protocol for military forces en route to deployment.

The initial award is valued at $7 million and is potentially worth $304 million over the 10-year life of the contract. SECOMP-I will allow near-real-time briefing for intelligence reports and plans, while troops are preparing for their missions.

General Dynamics Decision Systems also won an Army contract for cryptographic software for the Advanced Infosec Machine (AIM) processor chip to encrypt voice and data communications transmitted by Joint Tactical Radio System radios.

The $10 million, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is for developing, testing and delivering cryptographic software products to run on the AIM chips that can be used in the radios, which are being developed for airborne, maritime and ground applications.

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