What Is DIRECT And Will It Improve Disaster Response?

Communication is critical in carefully planned and coordinated military operations. It’s just as, if not more vital when the unexpected occurs. Earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, and all matter of natural and manmade disasters require a critical response from many different organizations and individuals. If there isn’t reliable communication and coordination across all responders, operations can be compromised and a dire situation could readily worsen. When different organizations are using varied communication networks and devices, getting everyone connected is a major challenge.

The U.S. Army has recently publicized a new communication tool: DIRECT. Also known as the Disaster Incident Response Emergency Communications Terminal, this new system will enable National Guard signal units to connect military, government, and non-governmental responders by providing commercial phone, internet, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE through a single resource. DIRECT would make it possible to create a central hub for communication, whether responders are using ordinary cell phones or specialized equipment like military headsets from CJ Component Products.

Image result for pilot network communication suite direct

The system relies on the National Guard’s satellite-based tactical network transport equipment, which will be used to tap into the Army’s own tactical network, will enable voice, video, and data regardless of infrastructure. This means that even if cell towers and other commercial communication infrastructure went down due to a disaster, responders would still have a reliable means of communicating and coordinating their efforts.

Another notable capability of DIRECT will be providing access to commercial Wi-Fi and 4G LTE capabilities at command and response centers, which is expected to improve disaster relief management. A voice bridging capability will also allow for the connection of disparate radios operating across varied frequencies, so that different communication devices, from military radios to smartphones, can be seamlessly synchronized for collaboration.

The Army has begun training units using DIRECT and gathering feedback to improve the system before it undergoes field testing. Currently, equipping efforts are projected to be completed by 2021 with systems being distributed across 54 states and U.S. territories— especially hurricane-prone states will be getting two.

Naturally, DIRECT is the type of system you never want to have to use, but when disaster strikes, it could be an indispensable asset.

Comments are closed.