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Emergency Wireless Network For D.C. Area

A $20 million network, known as CapWin, will integrate communications and databases across 40 D.C., Maryland, and Virginia agencies.
When the Pentagon was attacked, first responders were profoundly in the dark. "There were difficulties knowing where the nearest phones and trucks were located, how many EMS personnel were available. No one had one place to go and get this information," says Fred Davis, deputy program director of the Capital Integrated Wireless Network, a new effort to create communication links in the Washington, D.C., area.

The $20 million network, known as CapWin and to be built largely by IBM, will integrate communications and databases across 40 D.C., Maryland, and Virginia agencies. Everything from PCs to PDAs will be part of the network. CapWin even calls for restricted-access chat rooms that response teams create on the scene to share information.

IDC analyst Jocelyn Young says she believes the network is a first. It'll be able to handle 10,000 people making 7,500 transactions a minute. Kent Blossom, IBM's director of safety and security services, says requests to develop CapWin came about two years ago.

Davis says CapWin will help in situations other than catastrophe, such as when a D.C. cop wants data on a driver from Maryland. Davis says much of the project will be completed within the first year.