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GCN : October 2013
8 GCN OCTOBER 2013 • GCN.COM 150 people who were needed to manage the ports and waterways. The Coast Guard had no option but to close ports, putting at risk $500 million of daily commerce that flowed through New York and New Jersey, not to mention po- tentially extending the regional shortages of fuel and other goods that were badly needed for the response efforts. But with TRIDENT, "the 20 [megabits/ sec] communications pipeline we estab- lished was actually better than the one they had before the storm," Kowalske said. "Even with all of the security they had to overlay on it, given that it was car- rying Coast Guard data, they were still seeing faster speeds, and people were able to look right at their workstations as if nothing happened." As a result, the ports reopened five days ahead of when they would otherwise have been able to. TRIDENT is the result of a process that began when Kowalske wrote a white pa- per outlining how the Coast Guard could implement "resilient capabilities" that would support disaster response. Up un- til then, getting the Coast Guard's various systems and radios to swap data securely with other organizations --- and provide for real-time situational awareness during fast-changing events --- wasn't possible. A mesh network --- formally known as a mobile ad-hoc network, or MANET --- was not the only technology considered, said Kowalske, who has experience with MA- NET development efforts by the Defense Department and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. However, BY BRIAN ROBINSON 'Game changer' is one of those phrases that has become a cliché for a reason. Often attached to new technologies, but seldom used correctly, it's seen more as marketing hyperbole than a realistic de- scription of what technologies actually provide. TRIDENT (Tactical Routing of Infor- mation over a Deployable and Extensible NeTwork) could be one of the deserv- ing few. Thrown into the mix almost as a desperation heave during the response to Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 --- when the Coast Guard struggled to resur- rect communications in the ports of New York and New Jersey --- it quickly became a star. Not only did the TRIDENT team get regular communications up and running within hours of deployment, its mesh net- work delivered better performance than the systems that had been operating there before the storm. And it was all produced with equipment that fit into a small rental vehicle and cost less than $50,000, pea- nuts compared with the much larger and far more cumbersome systems the Coast Guard usually uses in disaster response. When the regular response teams came in after Sandy with their large trucks filled with $2.5 million of satellite communica- tions systems, they were only able to get 256 kilobits/sec throughput, said Lt. Ryan Kowalske, who headed the TRIDENT de- velopment team at the Coast Guard First District in Boston. That allowed just a handful of workstations to get up and run- ning, not nearly enough for the more than The comm after the storm Coast Guard's TRIDENT rescued, and improved, mobile communications after Superstorm Sandy "The 20 [megabits/sec] communications pipeline we established was actually better than the one they had before the storm." -- LT. RYAN KOWALSKE, U.S. COAST GUARD FIRST DISTRICT PROJECT AT A GLANCE NAME OF THE PROJECT: TRIDENT (Tactical Routing of Information over a Deployable and Extensible NeTwork) OFFICE/DIVISION/TEAM: U.S. Coast Guard First District TECHNOLOGY: Mobile Ad Hoc Network (MANET), using standard TCP/IP and advanced encryption, incorporating Cisco routers and Land Mobile Radio servers; Wave Relay from Persistent Systems. TIME TO IMPLEMENT: Six months COST: Less than $50,000 IN RESPONSE TO SUPERSTORM SANDY: $50,000 worth of MANET equipment 4 MANET NODES DEPLOYED 20 MEGABITS/SEC CONNECTIONS DELIVERED