S&T conducts research and development with an end goal of delivering effective and innovative insight, methods and solutions for the critical needs of the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE). The technology and solutions we’re developing are usually the direct result of a need identified by an end user or in anticipation of a future threat or need. How do we identify these needs? We ask. We talk directly to our end users – whether in the first responder community, within our critical infrastructure community, those in defense of cybersecurity or other members of the HSE.
From our National Conversation on Homeland Security Technology to participation in various roundtables to the one-on-one conversations with stakeholders and end users, we are in constant contact with the people who will use or could produce the projects we focus on.
For instance, in mid-August, members of our First Responders Group (FRG) shone at the 2015 Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) annual conference and exposition in Washington, D.C. The conference hosted more than 5,700 attendees from the international public safety communications community. Through participation in a town hall, a panel, and several technology demonstrations at the S&T booth, the team connected with partners, validated and demonstrated technologies, and developed relationships for future projects – all with a goal of developing solutions to make our nation safer and more resilient.
John Merrill, FRG’s Director of the Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC), led a town hall entitled “Protected, Connected, and Fully Aware: Envisioning the Next Generation First Responder.” The town hall attracted over 50 participants and encouraged ongoing communication and collaboration between industry and first responders regarding the missions and operational needs of the next generation of first responders. This dialogue is critical to ensuring the technologies we develop actually meet responders’ needs and allow for integration into a larger system of interoperable responder technologies.
During the “Update on the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program” panel, OIC announced the recent release of a Federal Register Notice seeking nominations for the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP) Advisory Panel (AP). The P25 CAP AP will provide OIC with active local, state, tribal, territorial and federal government officials’ perspective on portable, handheld and mobile vehicle-mounted radios.
Throughout the conference, technology demonstrations in the S&T booth attracted attention. The Radio Internet-Protocol Communications Module (RIC-M), developed by FRG, was recently licensed and is now available in the commercial marketplace. FRG’s Christine Lee and the licensees partnered with eight vendors to demonstrate how RIC-M makes legacy communications systems interoperable with new P25-compliant equipment at a low cost, potentially extending the life of the technology for decades.
Two other interoperable technologies also garnered attention. Video Datacasting, recently piloted with the cities of Houston and Chicago, uses available public television bandwidth to securely transmit video and information to public safety officials in the field. The Hybrid Public Safety Microphone (Turtle Mike and Turtle Command) technology, developed in partnership with DHS Customs and Border Protection, augments the land-mobile radios used by first responders across the country by merging the mission-critical voice capabilities of the radio with video and data benefits of smartphones.
Realistic solution development cannot happen without input from stakeholders, our commercial partners and the end user. This event is but one way we engage the HSE. I encourage everyone to join the conversation over Facebook, Twitter, and the National Conversation and to visit us as we demonstrate S&T’s technologies and capabilities at various events around the country.