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Optical networks offer advantages to justice sector

By Donna Donnowitz
September 16, 2011
The justice sector could benefit substantially from increased investments in fiber-optic networking technology, according to a recent CorrectionalNews report.

The news source explained the entire criminal justice system could experience considerable gains by deploying more fiber-optic networks, especially to handle video and other media-related tasks.

One area identified as having significant potential is surveillance. Optical networks can extend cabling lines farther than copper cables, making it easier to distribute high-definition video feeds around a large correctional facility. Furthermore, the report said monitoring outdoor fields and other parts of a correctional center can prove challenging because video equipment is prone to lightning strikes. This is especially the case for copper-based networks that have excess metal. However, optical cabling significantly reduces this risk, making it easier to establish high-performance surveillance networks.

Remote arraignments also benefit from optical networking. The report said fiber-optic networks can support a remote arraignment system in which judges in a courtroom can officiate cases in which the accused is in an arraignment room in a prison or other facility. This not only saves on transit and security costs, it also offers a number of technical advantages.

According to the report, the ability to provide voice and video multiplexing over a single fiber makes remote arraignment possible. However, the fact that Ethernet and data capabilities are also available via fiber make it advantageous to judges and other officials that are working on an arraignment.

The news source also identified courtroom audio and video as a key area for optical networking. A growing number of courtrooms are equipped with video equipment at strategic locations throughout the facility, giving judges and other officials the ability to more closely inspect relevant materials. Fiber-optic networks are uniquely suited to support high-quality voice and video transmissions in such a setup, ensuring secure and high-performance technological capabilities, according the the report.

Optical networking has the potential to revolutionize technological uses in a variety of sectors. However, the technology is highly dependent on major infrastructure upgrades as new high-performance optical networks need to be installed to support advanced capabilities. According to a recent Guardian report, UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt recently warned that the country is moving too slowly in deploying optical networks and could soon fall far behind the rest of Europe.


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