Funding

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 285205.

Cooperation

 

FREESIC project creates a solution that will allow highly secure and cost effective interoperability between communication infrastructures over the entire Europe. The project has been inspired by legal, organizational and operational barriers the consortium has encountered during its previous activities. Major activity to provide interoperability for end users was undertaken in the previous FP7 research project Secricom. This consortium of 9 partners and 5 associated partners is well qualified to tackle challenges in FREESIC project.


Emergency responder agencies  are facing challenges of ever increasing levels of complexity; this greater complexity in turn leads to responding agencies and their actors adopting greater specializations and the greater the specialization, the more segmented the structure of responders become. This then inevitably leads to the need for more effective intra and inter agency interoperability. However at the same time these agencies are facing budgetary limitations inhibiting the implementation of one-purpose solutions. The FREESIC has recognized this and proposed a cost-effective solution using existing communication infrastructures already deployed by organizations.

The solution is based on a universal gateway with customizable adapters that enable third party infrastructures to be connected to the FREESIC Unified Communication Network. From the user perspective network management tasks will be facilitated through the Collaboration Site based on WEB 2.0 components that allow end-users to configure their own interoperability attributes.

The FREESIC Gateway

First responder organizations connected to FREESIC will have the ability to exchange required information with partner agencies regardless of state-borders via the FREESIC Gateway which will be made available to them with full specification upon acceptance of the FREESIC terms and conditions described in the FREESIC Multilateral Agreement.  Agencies can ask their system integrators to develop an adapter to the FREESIC Gateway that connects their own communication system with the FREESIC platform. Thus each inter-operating agency, via FREESIC, needs only to develop one adapter to achieve multilateral interoperability with other agencies. The specification of FREESIC gateway will be provided as shared JAVA source code with sample implementations as well as additional tools enhancing the configuration of adapters connecting to the FREESIC platform. Thus, any kind communication system can be easily integrated at minor investment.  Moreover, the system integrators do not need to share any of their own assets, specifications or source codes they consider as business sensitive information or own intellectual property.

 

The FREESIC Collaboration Web

Thanks to the FREESIC collaboration web the operation of the interoperability platform is performed in a decentralized way (WEB 2.0 principles) according transparent interoperability rules enabling interconnection of organizations’ communication systems whilst the configuration of operational interoperability parameters (talk groups, visibility of different resources per partner agencies, etc.) will still sit with the end-user agencies themselves based upon  recognized social networking rules e.g. configuration becomes valid only upon mutual confirmation.  Thanks to the continuous involvements of end-user communities at the technology platform development, the user interface will be accommodated to end-user’s expectations, habits and vocabulary providing an interoperability tool that the end-users can quickly become familiar with.

The FREESIC End-user Focus

Another aspect of the FREESIC project is the focus on potential end-user expectations, habits and constraints with special emphasis on non-technical barriers that first responder organizations in Europe are facing when they are attempting to set-up interoperability with partner agencies. The FREESIC project considers major non-technical barriers the following:

  • - Differing doctrines between agencies and countries,

  • - Significant budgetary pressures for emergency responder agencies,

  • - Optimization of existing investments,

  • - Multiple systems deployment EU wide,

  • - Trust and security concerns, classified information,

  • - International agreements and legal limitations.

These barriers have emerged from consultation by the FREESIC consortium with over 50 stakeholder organizations across 10 EU states; furthermore engagement with a wide range of end-users has resulted in a series of suggested proposed solutions to these aforementioned identified barriers.  The FREESIC will provide interested public safety organizations with interoperability guides, procedures and recommendations collected in one manual reflecting the knowledge gathered from potential stakeholders Europe-wide. This document will provide:

  • - A Description of interoperability prerequisites (technical and non-technical),

  • - FREESIC user guide,

  • - Recommendations for the resolution of the most common constraints.

 

The FREESIC Deployment

The FREESIC infrastructure consists of a set of servers, secure multimedia switching software, web management tools. The backup (load-balancing) servers around Europe will enable system’s high availability and the meshed topology will enhance its resilience towards attacks. The system is designed with security in mind from the beginning.  The protection against denial-of-service cyber-attacks on the platform or the entire Internet will be solved by a direct over-the-satellite backup links.

 

The first interoperability between different systems will be evaluated using testing environments of organizations who participate directly as partners or associated partners in the FREESIC project or through their system integrators/consultants.

The FREESIC Vision

FREESIC is not compulsory but provides a capability that brings added value to the participating organisations. It gives:

  • - Permanent connectivity with partner organisations that regularly operate together but have  differing communications systems,

  • - Temporary connectivity with other FREESIC participating organisations when deemed operationally necessarily, 

  • - End to end connection between strategic and tactical command groups using different communication tools,

  • - The ability to tailor needs for the specifics of an organisation and incident,

  • - Secure communication channels.

The concept and approaches promoted by FREESIC are addressing not only current but future challenges. Published project results being timely for 2015 developments when FREESIC will present its final results.

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