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Harris® solutions provide critical communications in Haiti

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010 caused catastrophic damage, not only to human life, but also to communication systems, electrical networks, hospitals and transportation facilities. Harris® Corp. responded to the natural disaster by contributing communications equipment and teams of Harris professionals to create and restore critical communications for the relief effort.

Harris chartered a Lockheed C-130 Hercules turboprop transport plane at the company’s own expense. Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications (PS&PC) was represented by Sean Fitzpatrick and Sean Munjal. Their task in Haiti was to deploy an EDACS Xtreme LMR (Land Mobile Radio) System and distribute hundreds of handheld radios to provide crucial communications for delegations from the United Nations, CHF (Cooperative Housing Foundation) International, USAID, the FAA, ICE, NetHope and other emergency responders and relief teams.

The EDACS Xtreme System is a multi-feature communications package that is shock mounted, fault tolerant and environmentally sealed to withstand operation in rough terrain and rugged scenarios. EDACS Xtreme was deployed at CHF International headquarters in Peguy Ville to provide users with radio coverage of more than 80% of Port-Au-Prince.

Harris worked with Cooper General Corp. to provide the equipment for the Haiti effort. Cooper General is an international organization integrating and supplying communications systems and equipment to U.S. and foreign clients for law enforcement, air traffic management and government. Together, the two companies identified 40 UHF, single-band handheld radios, with batteries and chargers. A Cooper General service technician and his sons serviced and programmed each of the radios to operate on the required military frequencies. The radios were delivered to SOUTHCOM for immediate deployment to support the relief efforts in Haiti. SOUTHCOM is a joint command comprised of more than 1,200 military, Federal and civilian personnel. It is responsible for providing contingency planning, operations and security cooperation for Central and South America, the Caribbean and Cuba, as well as protection of U.S. military resources at those locations.

Every division of Harris was involved in the effort, including the Government Communications Systems Division (GCSD), FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI), Microwave Communications Systems (MCS) and Broadcast Communications Division. Every member from those divisions volunteered for this two-week mission.

“This diverse team structure helped us work together to leverage each other’s experience and expertise to create some really timely solutions, which is exactly what the situation required,” Munjal stated.

Besides supplying radio communications for the U.N., government and relief agencies, the Harris team established satellite communications to enable phone lines, the Internet and backhaul data connectivity for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, as well as the St. Francois de Sales Hospital.

Harris set up a satellite system at the hospital, giving it Internet and phone access. Supplies, like insulin, were a short distance away at the airport, but without a request for the medicine, officials with the U.N. didn’t know what the hospital needed. “Our satellite system allowed the hospital to request the supplies needed and communicate with the outside world,” Fitzpatrick said.

Harris also equipped CHF International with two satellite systems to assist in its mainland backhaul, Internet connectivity and long-distance phone communications at its headquarters. An additional satellite terminal was also added at a remote CHF International aid station in Petit Grove. To assist CHF International’s response to the earthquake, the Harris team implemented a situational awareness system that improved delivery of relief aid by identifying open roadways to surrounding areas that needed critical services and supplies.

Harris is continuing to help Haiti rebuild the country’s communications infrastructure. A second team of Harris volunteers traveled to Haiti to relieve the first team. The company will continue to work in conjunction with CHF International.

Published in Public Safety IT, Mar/Apr 2010

Rating : 10.0

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