MESA Public Safety Partnership concentrates on remote patient monitoring facilities in emergency and disaster

Sophia Antipolis 24 September 2001The recent tragedies in New York and Washington D.C. emphasise the importance of global co-operation in order to develop technologies which facilitate the needs of emergency services. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), two of the world's leading standards development organisations, are continuing to progress specifications for emergency service applications, addressing public safety needs of and the effectiveness of frontline medical assistance to not only the 800 million citizens in North America and in Europe, but also those in other parts of the world. One of the key aspects of crisis and disaster management constitutes remote patient monitoring.

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Disaster Response being committed to the relief of suffering people in situations of complex humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters is an enormous task. Not only does this involve technical equipment but also human engagement and methods of communications are important factors to guarantee the safety of people and nature. A growing demand for mobile broadband services within telemedicine, fire-fighting, mobile robotics, and military peacekeeping operations is rapidly emerging. To this purpose, the Public Safety Partnership Project (PSPP) was set up last year in the city of Mesa in Arizona.

This PSPP has been baptised Project MESA and represents the first international initiative to involve users and organisations from the Public Protection, Civil Defence, and Disaster Response sectors. MESA brings together industry and users to produce truly global standards for public safety applications. One of the drivers of Project MESA is the fact that more and more criminal activities are aided by communications technologies more advanced than those available to law enforcement and other public safety services at present. Critical uses include multi-media applications, such as two-way imaging, real time mobile full motion video and wireless telemedicine for remote patient monitoring. Such applications require a large bandwidth, well in excess of what is currently being developed for mobile telephony.

Commenting on the recent meeting of Project MESA held at the ETSI headquarters in France, Steffen Ring, Chairman of the Project MESA Steering Committee stated: "The growing significance of Project MESA was clearly demonstrated by the active participation of a large number of new delegates. Participants from both NATO and the United Nations made substantial contributions to the success of this third meeting of Project MESA." Project MESA will produce common specifications that will be transposed as necessary into regional standards. One result will be a harmonised standard for broadband terrestrial mobility applications and services driven by common scenarios and spectrum allocations.

Kjell Strandberg, Head of ETSI's Standards Making Support, noted: "The various public safety services may have very different communication needs, which may vary from country to country. Having a common standardised broadband communication system will ensure interoperability within and between countries and public safety services. To be able to communicate during emergency situations, it is crucial that both people and various types of terminals understand each other. MESA specifications will exist to ensure this." ETSI unites 889 members from 54 countries inside and outside Europe, and represents manufacturers, network operators, administrations, service providers, research bodies, and users.

Project MESA covers a wide range of public safety management services, including the concept of remote patient monitoring. This is the subject of intense study in both the civil and military peacekeeping sectors where the need for a reliable, secure and very high capacity mobile technology has been identified in order to address activities on the scene of incidence. Another area of interest in this field is mobile robotics. This is also a subject of active study in both the Public Safety and Military sectors and is depending upon the application of a highly reliable and broadband wireless technology as well.

Robots designed in both micro and macro scale may be used to assist in the rescue of people from hazardous areas, to provide for automated inspection of non-accessible areas, to offer the safe and swift clearing of land mines, and to assist in the difficult process of resolving terrorist actions. Interconnection to one or more of the planned broadband satellite constellations is also being considered by MESA in order to ensure a stable communication path from remote areas where terrestrial infrastructures may be seized during natural disasters. More details are available at the MESA Web site.


Leslie Versweyveld

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