NEC and SAIC use SOA for first-responder app

Jack Vaughan

While some sing the funeral song of SOA, software services continue to spread and evolve – finding new forms, especially in the realm of telecommunications. For example, such services are being used as part of innovative first-emergency-responder applications being created by Science Applications International Corporation.

Last month, NEC Corp. subsidiary NEC Sphere Communications announced it was working with SAIC to deliver interactive unified communications capabilities as part of their service-oriented architecture infrastructure for collaboration.

Todd Landry, senior vice president of NEC Sphere, said SAIC and NEC Sphere have developed mobile collaboration technology – in effect, a SOA-RIA-Web Services-IP Telephony mashup – that will be useful to first responders, law enforcement, and others. The implementation combines SAIC's GeoSpatial browser-based collaboration software with NEC Sphere's unified communications technology.

Landry told that NEC Sphere Communications, acquired by NEC 18 months ago, is dedicated to building communications capabilities as software services, rather than hardware elements as was traditionally the case with telecommunications devices and systems. He said this movement will redefine business processes that involve human interaction.

"If you build a workflow related to your data applications, for example, an ERP system getting information from inventory, at some point people in the business become

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part of the workflow. At that point it is good to have the ability for the business system to reach out to the people that can ensure the next step is taken," said Landry.

On the development side, Landry said NEC Sphere's approach to services allows wider ranks of programmers to work with telecommunications systems – a very arcane area for many people.

"We have abstracted the services in a way that application developers can consume the services without having to understand the underlying telecommunications [systems]," he said. NEC Sphere development tools include a suite of WSDL files that allow application developers more easily bring telecomm services into their development environments, Landry indicated.

The SAIC work is a fairly advanced application. SAIC's GeoSpatial service enables users to share geospatial displays. Together with Instant Messaging and Voice-over-Internet Protocol services, the system is ultimately intended to help emergency responders successfully coordinate activities, especially when dealing with catastrophes.

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