Mutualink Technology Enables Multimedia Information Sharing
By: Jennifer Gavigan
Mutualink, Inc. has developed an interoperable communications platform that enables community-wide multimedia sharing of radio, voice, text, video, data files and telephone communications in a secure environment. Mutualink’s system is currently deployed by hundreds of public and private entities worldwide, including homeland security and defense installations, NATO Special Operations Forces, police and fire departments, transit authorities, hospitals, shopping malls, casinos, and more. Mutualink is a privately held company headquartered in Wallingford, Conn., with R&D facilities in Westford, Mass. and Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and Defense Services office nearby Washington, D.C.
Mutualink demonstrated real-time multimedia interoperability for public safety using Google Glass at the 2013 APCO conference in Anaheim. The demonstration utilized Mutualink’s advanced interoperable communications platform, selectively and securely sharing two-way voice and video between command and control, partner agencies, and officers in the field with Google Glass. The technology interfaces with a FirstNet 4G LTE wireless broadband connection, demonstrating how critical multimedia information can be shared between public safety personnel in an emergency situation.
“Mutualink was very fortunate to be part of a select group of innovators given access to Google’s new Glass technology,” said Dr. Michael Wengrovitz, Mutualink’s Vice President of Innovation. “We have leveraged our innovative interoperability platform and the Google Glass wearable hands-free device to create ground-breaking advances that enable anywhere, anytime communications and information sharing.”
Through Google Glass’ onboard audio and microphone, video camera and built-in heads-up display, it is possible for a user—such as a police officer or fireman—to use Google Glass to share live streaming video with other personnel and monitoring points, and simultaneously communicate with other partner agencies. Mutualink’s technology makes this possible even if the various parties have incompatible radio systems or other communications devices. Mutualink also enables multimedia file sharing, and when this is combined with Google Glass, first responders could receive and view documents, images and schematics in real time.
Examples of potential applications for this technology in the public safety arena include:
Firemen reviewing the schematic of a building before entering and while navigating a burning structure; EMTs triaging patients at the scene of an accident with current medical records of victims; police being able to watch video feed from school security cameras in real time during an active shooter scenario.
“The capabilities that are made possible by combining Google Glass and Mutualink can save lives in many crisis response situations,” according to Joe Mazzarella, Senior Vice President of Mutualink. “Though Google Glass is still in beta, we are quite enthusiastic to be at the cutting edge of technology, and taking a leading role with Google Glass and its novel implications from a societal benefit perspective.”
The technology is enabled through Mutualink’s secure and sovereign-controlled multimedia interoperability platform, which is unique in terms of protecting privacy and control. Mutualink’s system maintains privacy and does not permit sharing of any media resources unless the agency controlling the media resource accepts a request to share their information. All users manually control the sharing or un-sharing of their own media resources. Once disconnected, the session stops and there is no way for an outside party to access the media resources of others. There is no centralized intelligence monitoring point or cloud-based big data repository with shared access vulnerabilities. Mutualink’s solution is distributed and retains both logical and physical sovereignty at an agency level.
With regard to privacy issues raised regarding Google Glass, Mutualink’s position is that Google Glass is no different from the many public and private surveillance systems already deployed that capture public activity. “What we can do as citizens is begin the dialogue about the proper balance between privacy and community welfare from the public safety perspective. We believe there is a balance to be had, and we are strong advocates of purposeful, situational need-driven information sharing within a secure and distributed owner-controlled environment. We don’t believe that a centralized data sharing model is sound or ultimately privacy friendly. Cognitively aware information sharing is the state-of-the-art and best solution to balancing legitimate interests of information sharing needs and privacy. In our world, thousands of discrete sharing decisions are made on an incident by incident basis, defined by need and relevance. This is a much better approach,” Mazzarella stated.
“We believe our approach is the key to enabling effective multi-agency cooperation and interoperability as well as allowing critical infrastructure partners to participate in a way that preserves legitimate privacy interests between private entities and government agencies,” Mazzarella concluded.