First Responders

Swift communication among first responders saves lives

In disaster situations, first responders must quickly grasp the situation on the ground and coordinate to act rapidly and effectively. Well-functioning communication on-site is essential for this. Most of the time, however, the communication networks are down. First responders, therefore, set up a communication network for reliable communication with each other before they begin the rescue. This communication network must be quick to set up, easy to operate, function without a secure power connection, and transmit data such as WiBACK.

In the case of large-scale fires

Large-scale fires can be triggered by many causes but all of them need to be extinguished as quickly as possible. This requires a quick counteraction and coordination of the first responders. Yet rural areas usually lack the necessary communication network.

In the case of flood disaster

Floods cause damage or disruptions to the electrical installation, resulting in a breakdown of the power grid and the communication that depends on it. For coordinated rescue operations, a reliable communication network and transmission of GPS data are necessary.

In case of earthquakes or storm disasters

Earthquakes destroy among other things the power supply and cause the mobile communication network to fail. Yet the necessary team coordination and communication for the rescue operation need a working commuication network.

WiBACK in disaster situations

Maintaining command and control capability in the event of disasters


WiBACK is a communications technology solution that enables long-term and short-term radio network establishment over long distances. In a disaster, authorities and organizations with security tasks (BOS) could connect areas cut off from the Internet or other networks using WiBACK. Also, they could maintain services such as telephony, mail traffic access, and the use of databases. WiBACK ensures:

  • A fail-safe connection
  • Connection of any access technologies
  • Transmission of larger data

Set up swiftly communication with WiBACK

In the event of a disaster, power and communication networks may quickly fail within a larger area resulting in spots without coverage. However, reliable communication between individual actors is essential for fast and smooth rescue operations. In particular, command and control capabilities must under no circumstances be impaired by a breakdown of the communication networks.

Recover lost skills in the field of telecommunications

Since the 1990s, in the peace dividend, more and more signal units have been disbanded. As a result, there no longer exists a uniformly nationwide signal service today, and first responders have to fall back on various technologies. They can choose from DBOS radio (i.e. TETRA), fixed-line telephony via DSL connections, BOS radio (in the VHF range), and mobile telephony via the public mobile phone networks. 

However, these technologies do not provide sufficient bandwidth to support services such as video, imaging, database access, or the availability in the case of power failure is mostly not guaranteed (mobile networks). At the same time, civil protection units are highly dependent on private companies. In most cases, they cannot be set up without (external) IT specialists or the involvement of mobile network operators. 

WiBACK as a communication solution

WiBACK is based on a combination of WLAN and directional antennas. It was initially developed to provide broadband Internet to remote areas. Nevertheless, as civil protection challenges are similar to establishing WLAN in remote areas, first responders can also use WiBACK as an improved communication solution for BOS communication. In both applications, the requirements are similar. There may be no stable electricity network available. Both stand under high-cost pressure and lack trained personnel to establish and operate a radio network – especially in high-stress situations. Whereby they demand qualitatively reliable transmissions to the end-user (Quality of Service: QoS). The WiBACK technology was developed to meet the requirements mentioned earlier specifically. Thus, WiBACK differs from existing radio relay solutions in its low acquisition costs and the ability to set up and maintained by trained specialists. 

Two WiBACK use-cases for first responders

Two main deployment cases are distinguished: one for long-term use as an autarkic fall-back network solution and the other as a portable network solution for short-term use. In both application cases, the same hardware is used but with a different trade-off between planning, setup efforts, and performance. WiBACK possesses the unique feature of flexible deployment and, as such, can be used as a permanent, a short-time, or as an ad-hoc network. 

1. Independent fall-back network

The autarkic fall-back WiBACK network enables first responders to build their own permanent network. This enables first responders to become independent from private companies and recover their lost telecommunication capabilities. In the event of impairment or complete failure of critical infrastructure, first responders can fall-back on their WiBACK network to secure crucial services such as e-mail, access to databases and file systems, and server applications by replacing failed connections. Because WiBACK can also be integrated into existing networks, it can extend and complement existing solutions too. This way, locations cut off from the Internet or mobile emergency forces can be connected to the internet and communication services.

2. Portable emergency network

The portable network (ad-hoc network) enables first responders to quickly establish network communication at remote locations where no network exists. It also allows replacing failed nodes during a disaster with almost no time loss. The network consists of nodes, antennas, and controllers, which can be mounted on portable poles. That way, first responders can either mount the poles on vehicles or quickly set them up at a location. In the first case, first responders gain an ambulant network. In the latter one, it serves more like a disaster recovery plan for failed connections or nodes. 

Visualization of both use-cases

Both network applications, portable or permanent, complement each other and can be used simultaneously. In the ultimate case, the permanent backup network serves as the core and the portable one as an emergency extension. The picture below shows how WiBACK could be used in practice. While the white dashed line shows the autarkic fall-back connections, the orange ones show the portable connections (in this case, it is mounted on a vehicle).

What does WiBACK have to offer technically?

Reliable communication

WiBACK allows the connection of access points and can combine various wireless and wired transmission technologies in point-to-point (P2P) mode and independently build more extensive distribution networks through chaining/distribution (multi-hop). 

In parallel, WiBACK automates frequency allocations within a network, forming the network topology and capacity management. Therefore, the WiBACK network is reliable and quick, and easy to deploy. First responders could combine equipment from different teams to extend the network and share them among all actors.

High data transmission 

WiBACK also allows larger data transmission such as pictures, videos, e-mails, or access and use of critical IT systems like location-information-systems, weather data, or geo-information-systems. 

Possible to select predefined profiles for disasters

First responders can adapt various scenarios to the system using predefined profiles regarding radio channels and transmission quality.

Easy to operate and maintain 

As it is designed for non-technically trained personnel, operation and maintenance can easily be carried out by trained personnel. An external expert is not necessary for installation or maintenance. The network also consists of quality value-added merchantable components so that in case of repair, first responders can acquire the components on their own at low prices.

How can WiBACK be reliable?

A WiBACK network's reliability is based on two factors: the fast and automatic self-configuration of links as well as to run on solar power. 

Automatic self-configuration 

In case of a WiBACK node failure, caused e.g. by battery drain, the automatic self-configuration detects this immediately and redirects the traffic in case of a redundant network structure such as a ring. At the same time, WiBACK tries to find another link to bridge the failed node. This will keep up communication, albeit with possibly degraded performance until the failed node is back in service. 

Solar powered 

WiBACK’s extremely energy-efficient components allows to run a node with a small solar cell and battery. The components were carefully matched to achieve a power supply that is not dependent on external power supply, while providing stable and predictable throughput. Unless the WiBACK nodes are stolen or otherwise damaged, they require extremely little maintenance. 

Durable Hardware 

Our latest WiBACK-4-Connect node has a built-in solar charger for LiFePo batteries. The built-in battery has been dimensioned for permanent operation (24/7/365) for areas approximately within the equatorial belt. The life battery is approximately five years. Only an external solar panel (about 100 Wp) is required to operate this node.