After the recent tragedies in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania, the importance of developing global standards for public safety applications has never been clearer.

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), two of the world's leading standards development organizations, are continuing to work on specifications for emergency service applications—addressing public safety needs of not only the 800 million citizens in North America and Europe, but also those in other parts of the world.

The third meeting of Project MESA (a public safety partnership that represents the first international initiative to involve users and organizations from the public protection, disaster response, and civil defense sectors) was held in late September at ETSI headquarters in France.

One of the driving forces behind Project MESA is the fact that more and more criminals use more advanced communications technologies than those currently available to law enforcement and other public safety services. Critical uses include multimedia applications such as two-way imaging, real-time mobile full-motion video, and wireless telemedicine. Such applications require a large bandwidth—well in excess of what is currently being developed for mobile telephony.

"The growing significance of Project MESA was clearly demonstrated by the active participation of a large number of new delegates,” said Steffen Ring, chairman of the Project MESA Steering Committee. “Participants from both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations made substantial contributions to the success of this third meeting of Project MESA."

Dan Bart, senior vice president of Standards and Special Projects at TIA, added: "Although we were horrified by the recent terrorist acts in the USA, the USA is 'not terrorized.' The work of MESA needs to be accelerated to bring forward the specifications and standards that can serve the needs of the public safety communities around the world. We are pleased ETSI's electronic working methods allowed the level of virtual participation it did during the recent meeting."

Project MESA will produce common specifications that will be transposed, as necessary, into regional standards. One result will be a harmonized standard for broadband terrestrial mobility applications and services driven by common scenarios and spectrum allocations.

"The various public safety services may have very different communication needs, which may vary from country to country. Having a common standardized broadband communication system will ensure interoperability within and between countries and public safety services,” said Kjell Strandberg, head of ETSI's Standards Making Support. “To be able to communicate during emergency situations, it is crucial that both people and various types of terminals understand each other. MESA specifications will exist to ensure this!"

For more information on Project MESA, visit www.projectmesa.org.