As Linux PDAs and mobile phones make their way into consumer and enterprise gadgets, an embedded version of the operating system has been developed for use as a public safety communications platform.
NextGen City, a maker of broadband communications network devices for police, fire and EMT departments in US municipalities, is using Linux to power a new line of VoIP phone/PDA device it is developing as part of its network infrastructure product suite.
The company's NexPaq is a combination wireless VoIP phone and handheld computing device, based on a 400 MHz Intel mobile processor running Linux. The gadget looks a little like an earlier-model cell phone with a chunky case, dial pad, and programmable feature keys on the front. The device allows an organization to use it as a push-to-talk communications device. NexPaq can also be used as an information terminal, connecting to back-end database resources.
When fitted with additional accessories, the device is also capable of monitoring vital functions of firefighters and police, sending data back to a central command site in real time. A USB camera can also be attached, allowing users to send real-time IP video to other officers, or to a command center.
The company's products include wireless interface cards for laptops, broadband IP gateways and wireless mesh network routers. The NexPaq will be used, in conjunction with the company's other network gear, as a primary communications device for first responders.