OpenCape Looks to Provide Backup Emergency Communications for Cape Towns

BARNSTABLE – In the wake of another destructive hurricane season, the need for backup emergency communication systems is ever apparent.

The OpenCape Corporation, a non-profit technology company headquartered in Barnstable Village inside the Barnstable County Complex.

“In lieu of all the things going on around the world, when you look at Florida and Houston, and the panhandle, we really started thinking about using the microwave in a more judicious manner,” said OpenCape CEO Steve Johnston.

The company is looking to work with police and fire departments across the Cape to utilize its state-of-the-art fiber optic network, built to serve local governments and business across southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands.

In addition to building over 500 miles of fiber, which is among some of the most sophisticated fiber networks in the world, OpenCape also has created a redundant microwave network that runs from Woods Hole to Provincetown.

The microwave network is attached to hardened facilities like water towers and large cellular towers that can withstand severe winds.

Originally, the concept for this additional network was that if one section of the fiber network was damaged, OpenCape could simply jump up onto the microwave network to circumvent the damaged section and restore service quickly while repairs were made.

“The premise was that if any part of our network was damaged during a storm, terrorism, whatever the issue was, we could circumvent that damaged section and jump up on the microwave and restore service to the network quickly,” said Johnston.

In a possible scenario where most telephone pole infrastructures were lost, Johnston says the OpenCape microwave network can be used to reach emergency shelters on Cape Cod, primarily in High Schools and important public safety facilities if wireless capabilities allowing for microwave signals to be sent from the towers were added. Johnston says the technology would provide a redundancy that would help us communicate in times of great need.

OpenCape is currently working with Barnstable County’s Emergency Preparedness team to vet further options.

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center

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