With the expected 70,000 daily visitors to the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City this month, reliable communications are essential. Even the best laid plan needs a backup, and that's why the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C., has its mobile communications center ready in Salt Lake City.
The Office of Naval Research supported the development of a Humvee outfitted with the capability of instantly providing two-way satellite commercial links, data networking, land-based mobile radio networking and a private cellular telephone network. The system can even handle streaming video. "We can deliver telephone and data connectivity anywhere," said Chris Herndon, the NRL project manager InfraLynx (Infrastructure Linkage and Restoration), the Humvee communications project.
Originally designed to support several U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, the modular communications components installed on the Humvee are entirely self-contained and can be configured to fit the needs of a particular civilian or military situation.
NRL sent the InfraLynx Humvee to Salt Lake City at the request of the federal Office of Domestic Preparedness, a program office within the Department of Justice. The laboratory also swiftly prepared to send two Humvees to New York City in the days following the World Trade Center collapse last September. Although the Federal Emergency Management Administration called off the trip at the last minute, the exercise proved to the NRL team just how quickly they could customize the Humvee-based communications units and get them on the road.
Humvee is short for HMMWV, a military term for "High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle," while Hummer refers to the similar vehicles produced for civilian markets.