Seeking to avoid the communication breakdowns that occurred as a result of the September 11th terrorist attacks and the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the Department of Homeland Security is developing an emergency network that would let officials email one another even in the absence of a cellular infrastructure. The DHS' Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is analogous to the Pentagon's DARPA, is looking at a number of options to keep the data flowing following an emergency, including widespread deployment of mobile mesh networking technology or re-purposing some of the government's legacy satellites to handle terrestrial communications. This latter option is particularly attractive because some sats could offer transfer rates in excess of 100Mbps, and in fact a trial program is scheduled for this summer that will employ modified BlackBerries and Treos to send secure, satellite-based email between Homeland Security officials and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

[Via Smart Mobs]

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DHS looking to satellites, mesh networks for emergency communications