UNH-IOL launches IPv6-based network for first responders

A team at the University of New Hampshire-InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) in Durham, N.H., debuted an interoperable communications network based on Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

By Courtney E. Howard

DURHAM, N.H. - A team at the University of New Hampshire-InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) in Durham, N.H., debuted an interoperable communications network based on Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). Designed for first responders in emergency situations, the MetroNet6 network takes advantage of Moonv6, the world’s largest multivendor IPv6 network.

“The vision of MetroNet6 is to provide a test bed that public safety agencies in Sacramento, Calif., can rely on to test interoperability between IPv6-enabled devices, and interoperability with other regions in California, in a controlled setting,” says George Usi, project manager of MetroNet6 for the California IPv6 Task Force and president of Sacramento Technology Group.

“We also envision MetroNet6 built out with Wireless MESH capabilities for disaster response exercises and incidents,” Usi says. “In the case of a flood engulfing Sacramento, for example, MetroNet6 could then support triple-play communications through multimedia 24/7/365, from first responders on the ground in Sacramento to a distant command-and-control center, to manage the crisis.”

Engineers working on the Moonv6 test brought the MetroNet6 network live, built out the MetroNet6 infrastructure, and tested the IPv4 and IPv6 connectivity between Moonv6 and MetroNet6. They also established UNH-IOL as a temporary, redundant command-and-control center. MetroNet6, an IPv6-based metropolitan network for first responders in Sacramento, will remain up and running permanently.

MetroNet6 ensures the availability of a communications infrastructure for information sharing during an emergency situation, such as a fire, flood, or other disaster, potentially increasing operational effectiveness and reducing casualties.

“The Moonv6 project is incremental and testing to further advance first responder communications over IPv6 will be ongoing,” notes Erica Johnson, IPv6 consortium manager at the UNH-IOL. “We have successfully built a fixed network that can be utilized by IPv6-enabled applications as they are developed. The next steps are to continue to build a mobile network and integrate security-enabled applications.”

IPv6 powers the deployment of mobile ad-hoc networks, providing fast, bidirectional, and secure communications that can be deployed quickly and linked to other networks.

Testing took place between UNH-IOL in Durham, N.H., and a MetroNet6 point of presence at iStreet Solutions in West Sacramento, Calif. Sacramento Technology Group in Sacramento, Calif., provided project coordination, disaster recovery expertise, information security requirements, design, engineering, and technical implementation assistance for the Moonv6 MetroNet6 launch. Sacramento Technology Group holds a Master Service Agreement with the State of California to assist in the rollout of MetroNet6 for all State of California first responders.

The Moonv6 project is led by the North American IPv6 Task Force (NAv6TF) and involving the University of New Hampshire-InterOperability Laboratory; Internet2 networking consortium in Ann Arbor, Mich.; vendors; service providers; and regional IPv6 Forum Task Force network pilots worldwide.

The U.S. Department of Defense Joint Interoperability Testing Command (JITC) in Arlington, Va., and other government agencies, the Defense Research & Engineering Network (DREN), and the High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) also play active roles in Moonv6.

Two years ago the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of E-Gov and IT in Washington issued OMB Memorandum 05-22, “Transition Planning for Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6).” The memorandum directs all Federal government agencies to transition their network backbones to IPv6 by June 30, 2008.

For more information, visit The University of New Hampshire-InterOperability Laboratory online at www.iol.unh.edu.

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