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How Mercury IP Intercom is helping to improve the effectiveness of the Brevard County Emergency Operations Centre.



The client is the Brevard County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) which serves as the central clearing house for disaster-related information, and requests for deployment of assistance. Its latest innovation is a move away from tradition with the removal of conventional phones and radios from the EOC floor and the adoption of Trilogy’s ‘Quiet EOC’ concept. Trilogy has equipped the EOC with a Mercury system that means that there is no need to have ringing phones, loud radios or people raising their voices to be heard. Operators are empowered to handle their calls as they wish in a quiet business like way that means they are all able to work more effectively, operators use wireless headsets so can move around freely using a control panel on their computer screen to make and manage their calls. Mercury delivers high quality, professional communications with unprecedented clarity that improves call handling, work flow and overall service levels.

The Challenge

Brevard County EOC aims to provide residents, businesses and industries, non-profit organizations, and local governments with the education and support necessary to reduce the loss of life and human suffering; to minimize property damage; and to protect environmentally sensitive areas from all types of disasters through a comprehensive, risk-based, all-hazard emergency management program. Disasters take many forms – a hurricane, a tornado, a flood, a fire or a hazardous spill, an act of nature or an act of terrorism. It builds over days or weeks, or hits suddenly, without warning. Every year, millions of Americans face disaster, and its terrifying consequences.

In this environment the speed and accuracy of call handling and information distribution can mean the difference between life and death. Multiple operators from a wide range of agencies including Police, Fire, Ambulance, FEMA, Homeland Security and the School Board are located in the EOC and given the urgency of the messages and the deluge of information that can occur EOC’s are often noisy and confusing. This increases the chances that messages could be missed, misunderstood or the gravity of a given situation may not be conveyed.

By removing the sources that are responsible for much of the background noise such as radios and ringing phones, the sound level drops and as a consequence operators can speak at a lower volume. This reduces stress levels making for a calmer environment that portrays a more measured and confident feel to everyone the EOC deals with. This in turn allows the EOC to work more effectively regardless of the emergency.

The Solution

Trilogy’s solution uses four Mercury Interface Units (MIU’s) equipped with a combination of Radio Interface (RIB), Telephone Expansion (FXO) and Audio Expansion (AEB) boards.  

With these installed the system hosts 32 Emergency Support Function (ESF) operators on 18 designated ESFs. Each operator can see all 18 ESFs although they are only required to constantly monitor their own ESF. They can join and leave any of the other ESFs by selecting it on their on-screen control panel and the using a Push-To-Talk switch to actually speak into that conference. In addition to the 18 designated ESF conferences there are 5 unassigned conferences to allow for breakout conversations from any one of the designated 18.

The system also takes in all 32 operators’ phone lines and routes them through the MIU’s to a specific key on the operators control panel. The panel allows them to make, answer and manage the calls that are then routed to their wireless headsets. Additionally each operator can place direct phone calls on hold to allow other private communications and access a public address (PA) facility at the press of a button.

Mercury provides operators with the ability to talk to any one of 8 radio conferences although only one operator can speak to a radio conference at any one time with the system offering a busy tone to any other attempts. The Mercury system also provides an “active side tone” allowing users to hear their own voice at whatever volume level they find comfortable whenever they have an active speak route. 

Mercury is a COTS product which has been designed for simplicity and ease of use by operators of all skills levels. The Mercury solution offers a new way of working for users who have previously being tied to a workstation by a phone. Those same users also benefit from being able to move around and from not having to raise their voice to be heard and understood over the ambient noise.

Key Challenges
  • User resistance to change
  • Must be easily understood and simple to adapt to
  • Interoperability – users must be able to communicate with radios, telephones and other operators without having to change through a single interface
  • Real Time Communications – information flow should be without delay regardless of the number of call participants
  • Reliability – critical applications require robust, proven solutions
  • Improved service quality for the public
Key Features of the Trilogy solution
  • Simple, scalable solution
  • Full interoperability between all types and bands of radio, conventional, cell and SIP phones and almost any other audio device enables the inclusion of any and all required participants
  • Real-time two way one to one, one to many or full conference calls are supported
  • Mercury is a field proven, COTS product with installations around the globe
  • Push-To-Talk (PTT) and active side tone capable
Equipment Used
  • Mercury Interface Unit with Radio Interface (RIB) and Telephone Expansion (FXO) and Audio Expansion (AEB) Boards fitted
  • Trilogy Virtual Control Panel
  • Plantronics CA12CD wireless beltpacks