Communications Systems for Emergency Response

Jon M. Peha
Professor of EPP and ECE, and Associate Director of the Center for Wireless Broadband Networking
Carnegie Mellon University

This work has been supported in part by the MacArthur Foundation.

After major disasters such as the attacks of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina along the US Gulf Coast, and the 2004 Tsunami in Asia, many lives depend on the effectiveness of "first responders" such as firefighters, police, paramedics, public health workers, and the National Guard. These first responders depend on their wireless communications systems, and in too many cases, these communications systems have proved to be inadequate. Indeed, problems occur on a smaller scale every day. One goal of this research is to find ways to improve wireless communications systems for first responders. This includes eliminating interoperability problems, improving spectral efficiency, improving dependability and fault tolerance, improving security, and introducing new capabilities such as broadband communications, geolocation, and autoconfiguration. It is also essential that the public be able to call for help. In the U.S., this is referred to as 911, but the 911 architecture emerged to supported wired telephones. This research will find better technical approaches, as well as policies that facilitate the adoption of new approaches. Both of the topics above require both technical research and policy research.

A sample video interview on this topic with Professor Peha.

Some sample papers:

Some additional papers are available at