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Verizon's Operation Convergent Response

Author: Junaid Islam

Copyright: Copyright 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2017-09-08
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Currently information solutions for First Responders are built using customized, highly complex and costly communications and application systems. While the adoption of mobile devices and public clouds have become the norm for enterprises these have been considered too risky for emergency services. Until now. 

Verizon's Mobile command vehicle suppoprted the OCR demonstration also also offered tours to attendees.

Verizon’s Operation Convergent Response (OCR) was the first large-scale demonstration of how networked services could be used to instantly provide information to First Responders.  OCR brought together the leading experts in emergency response and communications for two days of hands-on exercises. A key aspect of OCR was to showcase how Verizon’s LTE service combined with Software Defined Perimeter enabled secure connectivity between emergency response personnel, surveillance equipment and cloud-hosted applications.

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Event communication was provided by Verizon’s truck-mounted LTE tower that is designed to provide instant voice and high-speed data coverage during emergencies. Surveillance drones and robots transmitted live video to a cloud-based command center in Microsoft Azure using Verizon LTE. First Responders were able to access hosted applications utilizing Verizon’s new SDP service.

Operation Convergent Response (OCR) featured many real world scenarios such as a subway accident, flood and chemical spill. However the most exciting event was the Hostage Rescue demonstration [image at right] using a drone to air drop a robot with high resolution imaging on the roof of a building. The video stream was sent to hosted apps that were protected by Verizon's SDP service.  The enhanced situational awareness provided security personnel with high resolution targeting information. 

One of the technical highlights of OCR was Verizon’s new Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) service. Verizon’s SDP service that is built on Vidder’s PrecisionAccess managed security service.

Verizon’s SDP service verifies the user and device identity before granting mission-based access. Certificate-based mutual TLS VPN ensures that connections cannot be intercepted when First Responders connect to hosted application resources. To stop malware from spreading through network connections, Verizon’s SDP provisions all connectivity at an application layer - i.e. from the “app inside” the user's device to specific port of a server. Thus malware on the user’s device is outside the application layer tunnel. Verizon also demo'd the new remote trust assessment inspection capabilities of its SDP service. 

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The combination of SDP’s strong security model combined with Verizon’s LTE coverage allowed First Responders to securely access critical information on their mobile compute device. The blending of multiple services created a fully integrated on-demand command and control system that was well received by event participants. OCR successfully proved that public communications and compute services offer First Responders a more effective approach to information collection, processing and distribution than legacy hardware-based solutions. 

Operation Convergent Response was developed and led by Jeff Schweitzer - Verizon Enterprise’s Chief Innovation Architect [pictured at image right; left side]. Prior to joining Verizon, Jeff served in the US Army and Pentagon as a communication expert. To ensure that OCR scenarios reflected real world challenges Jad Muntasser, a former Navy Seal and a leading expert in anti-terror and hostage rescue operations, helped create the scenarios  [pictured at image right; right side]. Both Jeff and Jad have extensive combat experience and have continued their commitment to public service in private life.

 

Junaid Islam [center of image above right] is the Founder, President & CTO of Vidder, a cybersecurity company which is changing how modern day enterprises approach security in the increasingly untrusted and diverse IT landscape. The company’s PrecisionAccess™ solution provides trusted and unified access control across internal networks, clouds, and external users. Security is enhanced by continually ensuring that only trusted devices used by strongly authenticated users can ever see and access trusted applications. For more information, see https://www.vidder.com/about/.

 

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