The first component an agency needs for a mobile ad hoc network is the actual routing platform.
Embedded services routers now have the same functionality of an industry-standard 19-inch rack-mounted router, fit into a very small form factor. These router platforms can sit in the back of a police car and are ruggedized to withstand rough conditions, temperatures and transport.
Radio Aware Routing Protocols
Radio Aware Routing (RAR) protocols are essential to ad hoc capability, as they enable routers to adapt to changes in the radio links as they occur, which minimizes disruptions to critical information flow. RAR facilitates the communication within a network by discovering routes between nodes and establishing an efficient route so that messages are delivered in a timely manner with a minimum of overhead and bandwidth consumption.
To implement an ad hoc network, some radio upgrades may be required. Information technology staff need to work with radio vendors to make sure they support required ad hoc network protocols.
Radio Routing and Industry-Standard Protocols
Ad hoc networking offers compelling advantages in many environments, but there are still some challenges. Foremost among these challenges is the need to efficiently merge IP routing and mobile radio technologies. Implementers of mobile ad hoc networks should consider how industry-standard protocols operate over their radios, selecting those that optimize routing performance while preserving valuable bandwidth for user information.
Applications and Services
The applications and services that run on the network make up the fourth critical component of a mobile ad hoc network. The police department’s chief information officer needs to determine the necessary applications and services based on the department’s needs.
Ad hoc networking partners, of which Cisco is one, use existing applications or write new ones that a police department may require or choose to use.
Rolling out a network in stages
Just how big a law enforcement department wants to scale an ad hoc network is an operational decision. Every node in a mobile ad hoc network has to have a routing platform with the same capabilities. At the bare minimum, there need to be two nodes in a network, but it is likely most small to medium police forces will implement approximately 40 nodes, depending on how many cars they have. The key component is that every node has the same capabilities.
Often mobile ad hoc networks are deployed in stages, because departments want to develop training and operational procedures as they measure the impact of how these new capabilities affect the way they do business.
The clear advantage of updating to a mobile ad hoc network is that an officer doesn’t require any special training. To the standard-issue law enforcement officer on the street, mobile ad hoc networking simply brings the familiar capabilities currently used in his office to the field and extends communications to areas that might otherwise be in the dark.
Law enforcement benefits from advances in technology and the ability to push these technologies out to vehicles and officers in the field. Mobile ad hoc networking makes law enforcement safer and more effective while reducing costs for police departments and taxpayers. Ad hoc networking is an operational enhancement of capabilities that helps law enforcement be faster, safer and smarter in doing its job.