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Connecticut Convention Center Joins Hartford’s Emergency Communications Network

The Connecticut Convention Center has joined the Hartford, Conn., emergency communications network with the final installation of a multimedia communications system. The system was installed with the assistance of Mutualink, Inc. The interoperable communications system is designed for sharing critical and pertinent information with law enforcement and emergency personnel. Final installation was completed at the end of May.

Mutualink is a platform that creates seamless, realtime, interoperable communications and media-sharing amongst first responder agencies, as well as critical infrastructure. The invitation-only system enables the Connecticut Convention Center to be able to link other users in the system. These users can see and talk in realtime while sharing radio, voice, text, video, data files, and telephone communications. Each user within the system has control over their communications and can accept and reject invitations from other agencies. “You’re creating an environment where you can have enhanced situational awareness and collaboration during times of crisis, which can make a difference,” said Joseph Mazzarella, Mutualink’s senior vice president and legal counsel,  during a telephone interview.

Mutualink is a platform that creates seamless, realtime, interoperable communications and media-sharing amongst first responder agencies, as well as critical infrastructure. The invitation-only system enables the Connecticut Convention Center to be able to link other users in the system. These users can see and talk in realtime while sharing radio, voice, text, video, data files, and telephone communications. Each user within the system has control over their communications and can accept and reject invitations from other agencies.

Incidents can also be exited at a user’s discretion. This modular feature was a must in order to make participants, especially police departments, receptive to the new system. The decentralization of the Hartford emergency communications network was designed to fulfill the diverse needs of the various agencies. “Every agency has its own needs to communicate with various partners, but every single agency has maybe a slightly different partner that it needs to talk to in times of crisis,” said Mazzarella. “Not everyone needs to talk together in the same collaboration session, as much as there is multiple collaboration sessions with circles overlapping one another of agencies talking to one another. The idea is to build an agile and flexible environment, where I can talk to whoever I need to talk to in order to perform and execute my mission successfully, and often that depends on certain other support partners.”

“With almost 200 events and nearly 400,000 visitors to our building each year, safety is our paramount importance,” said Micheal Costelli, the Connecticut Convention Center’s general manager. “The Mutualink System strengthens our connection with the business community and our security partners,” said Hartford Police Chief James Rovella in a Mutualink release. “It allows us to interact during active crimes or emergencies and enhances the police response by directly linking video, radio, and telephone with our Mutualink partners on one network. Having the Connecticut Convention Center as part of our Mutualink team is a great asset and shows our continued commitment to community policing and keeping our city safe.”

“The safety of our guests and associates is a full-time commitment,” explained Bob O’Connell, Director of Security for the Connecticut Convention Center. “Our goal is to create the highest standard of security in the industry and this system brings us one step closer to that goal by delivering unparalleled communications with the Hartford Police Department.”

“If this is an active shooter that goes into a school, who knows where that shooter is? The people that best know where that shooter is at any point in time are the people inside that school. If they can communicate out to responding police officers they are going to reduce the amount of time it takes to isolate and capture that suspect.”

Before final integration, the system underwent extensive testing. One of the test scenarios involved an event that is still fresh in the minds of Connecticut residents. “We did an active shooter exercise at a school in Hartford last year. We did it with Hartford SWAT [special weapons And tactics], Hartford EOD [explosive ordnance disposal], Hartford Dispatch, St. Francis Hospital, and a couple other entities,” said Mazzarella. “If this is an active shooter that goes into a school, who knows where that shooter is? The people that best know where that shooter is at any point in time are the people inside that school. If they can communicate out to responding police officers they are going to reduce the amount of time it takes to isolate and capture that suspect.”

“If there are cameras inside that school, if we can get those views inside the school flowing out to the police and other responding entities, including SWAT teams on the ground, they are going to be able to see where that suspect is in the building, where they are going, where they can cordon off and control that suspect, and keep the rest of the school population safe until they resolve the situation,” said Mazzarella.

Hartford joins Berlin and Stamford as Connecticut cities that utilize Mutualink’s multimedia communications system. Within Hartford, the Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police, St. Francis Hospital, and Sonitrol New England make use of the system. “The Connecticut Convention Center, like all of our customers, understands the importance of being able to collaborate with community partners in an emergency, while also maintaining sovereign control of their audio and video assets,” said Mark Hatten, Mutualink’s CEO.

In addition to Connecticut, the system is used across the United States. “We have extensive systems deployed in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Mazzarella. “We have extensive deployments that create these communities of interoperability amongst an array of different partners.”

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...