Cisco debuts integrated IP-based radio system

Cisco Systems Inc. has launched an IP-based communications platform that the company says will tie together disparate radio systems in order to achieve interoperability for first responders and other government users.

At a launch event in New York, Cisco officials demonstrated its IP Interoperability and Collaboration Systems (IPICS) technology connecting UHF, VHF, legacy radio, cellular push-to-talk, and PC-based IP soft phones.

The company has already fielded early trials of the system. Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann told reporters his city was piloting the solution in order to break free of its "silo mentality" and better enable public safety officials to respond in an emergency.

Speaking to GCN last week, Morgan Wright, Cisco's global solutions manager for justice and public safety, called IPICS a "system of systems" that's designed to bridge radio systems. He said the Defense Department was also among early IPICS users.

The system comprises a Cisco IPICS server, which runs a hardened Linux operating system, as well as IPICS server software, a Push-to-Talk Management Center (PMC) application, and Cisco Voice Over IP XML Services. The integrated solution uses land mobile radio gateways in existing Cisco routers to enable cross-platform connectivity. Because it's IP-based, the IPICS system can bring together voice, data and video on a variety of devices.

Wright said integrating existing radio systems is critical, but it's also important to pull in commercial networks such as Nextel's push-to-talk service. In New York, Sprint Nextel public-sector vice president Chris Hackett said increased interoperability would lead to better flexibility and investment protection for federal, state, and local governments.

Brad Grimes is an assistant managing editor of Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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