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Completion of Project FREESIC

08 July, 2014

On 5 June at the University of Luxembourg Project FREESIC (FREE Secure Interoperable Communications) presented its findings to an invited audience of 30 users from across Europe including three representatives from the UK.

The new technology developed under an EU FP7 financed program sought to answer the central challenge that different responder organisations face whenever they use different technologies to communicate with each other – the difficulties in intra and inter agency interoperability, especially during cross-border major incidents.

The answer came in the form of a universal gateway operated from a web front-end – a little similar to Facebook or LinkedIn – which enabled participants to easily create common talk groups for the duration of incidents. Unlike social media gateways, however, these groups enable participants to talk with each other using their iPhones, Android phones, or TETRA radios, as well as send messages.

In Luxembourg the project’s Collaboration Web was demonstrated live to the audience showing how requests for agencies and command roles’ talk- group set-ups of different systems are attributed and configured in readiness for various operational requirements. In brief the Project demonstrated:

  • Ability to accept/decline requests for interoperability
  • Ability to structure communication plans in line with differing Command structures
  • Ability to set up pre-planned inter agency talk-groups according to different scenarios
  • Ability to dynamically set up inter agency talk-groups according operational need.

A short live demonstration was enacted shaped around a plausible scenario of a major incident at a chemical plant sitting across the border of two EU states.

The use of FREESIC capability illustrated the facilitation of communications between various agencies and devices so that urgent changes could be agreed at the Silver command level, between six agencies and the chemical plant to a pre-set contingency evacuation plan before first responders had even arrived on scene – thus providing a more effective multi-agency response with potential for saving more lives.

‘After one false start - which showed that the demonstration was really live - we successfully demonstrated for over 10 minutes PTT voice communications between 5 countries using VoIP terminals, analogue radios as well as Tetrapol and SECRICOM systems with a range of devices including mobile phones, tablets, laptops and handsets,’ explained B-APCO European Projects Manager Shaun O’Neill.

Following the demonstration the audience was invited to the on-site equipment room for an opportunity to ‘touch and feel’ the deployed kit and to speak with the various project technicians involved.

‘The responders shed light on possible applications for FREESIC and pointed out several essential activities which FREESIC would allow them to do which they are unable to do currently,’ commented Shaun: ‘An additional relevant conclusion to emerge was that most of the responders thought that the benefits gained from the technologies offered by FREESIC would make it worthwhile to change agency processes and procedures. Moreover, a clear majority of the stakeholders taking part in the questionnaire indicated that the three attributes which FREESIC focused upon are relevant as well, namely confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

‘In summary it was felt that FREESIC constitutes an awaited tool with several desired features that offer a range of new essential possibilities.’

Next steps

Some Project partners are exploring opportunities to commercialise FREESIC’s developed capabilities (B-APCO will not be involved in related exploitation activities to preserve its supplier independence and credibility).

A follow-on project, Re-DIRNET ( has recently commenced which builds upon FREESIC developments and is looking at information exchange for data, images, video and remote sensors.

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