Catalyst and The Burning Man

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100 miles north of Reno, in the Great Basin area of northern Nevada, lays the Black Rock Desert. The region is notable for its paleogeologic features, as an area of 19th-century Emigrant Trails to California, as a venue for rocketry, and as an alternative to the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah, for setting land speed records.

It is also the location for the annual Burning Man Festival.

Burning Man is an annual gathering that takes place at Black Rock City—a temporary community erected in the Black Rock Desert. First held in 1986, Burning Man 2016 was held between August 28 and September 5, 2016.

At Burning Man the community explores various forms of artistic self-expression including experimental and interactive sculpture, building, performance, music , art and other mediums, often inspired by the yearly theme, chosen by organizers. Participation is a key precept for the community. Close to 70,000 people attended the 2016 Burning Man Festival.

A crowd of that size needs – temporarily – safety services commensurate with a city the size of Lynchburg (pop.78,000) and the Bureau of Land Management(BLM), who manage and protect the Black Rock Desert lands, looked to Forest VA’s own  Catalyst Communications Technologies for their safety and administration Radio Dispatch needs. On short notice, Catalyst built and installed a Dispatch Operations center with 6 console positions that could communicate with fire, law enforcement, EMS, BLM Staff and Burning Man staff organizers during the 10 day Festival through a radio network of eight tower sites.

Catalyst implemented an unique design concept for the Dispatch system. BLM wanted a system they could easily deploy, pack up, and re-deploy year after year in their temporary command center. To simplify setup, Catalyst installed a Dispatch Console that included a monitor, computer, speakers and microphone assembled as a single unit. The unified console system drops into a storage box as a unit and can be re-deployed simply next year. The computers that control each of the base station radios were similarly designed for easy implementation, using new, compact computers in a simple to deploy rack.

During the Burning Man Festival, radio dispatch was in operation 24 x 7 to process radio communications; everything from vehicle registration and license checks, to ambulance calls, to law enforcement. Next year, Burning Man Festival attendees can expect safe and reliable radio communications thanks in part to technology developed right here in Forest VA from Catalyst Communications Technologies.

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