Wi-VOD (short for Wireless Voice Over and Data) of Ashland, Va., has equipped a stretch of highway in Arizona with wireless equipment to keep first responders in touch even while they’re moving at speeds as fast as 80 miles per hour (130 kilometers per hour).
The stretch of road tested in this first phase is 4.9 miles of the Canamex Interstate Highway, on I-19 between Rio Rico and just south of Green Valley.
The company used equipment from RoamAD of New Zealand, which specializes in metro and campus Wi-Fi equipment that can cover long distances. The RoamAD Nodes were set up about every 1.2 miles—they connect only via wireless. By May of this year, the network will extend to 32 miles long. The network will be used by police, fire, and emergency medical services, as well as the Border Patrol in the area. It could expand to other targeted areas including school zones and even local residents in the future. This a path taken by many municipally-run Wi-Fi networks—this setup is part of a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, and is administered by the Arizona Telecommunications and Information Council.
Last year, RoamAD signed a distribution agreement with Siemens to help push its Wi-Fi equipment in the United States, Asia and more of Europe.
This mobile use of Wi-Fi for voice and data is not a first. Other similar setups include the network used to watch over the Umatilla Chemical Depot in Oregon.