The Department Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) regularly posts a roundup of key updates from projects currently in the development stages in S&T's First Responders Group (FRG). This article outlines FRG's accomplishments in June 2015.
Video Quality in Public Safety Workshop
On June 17-18, FRG’s Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) held its 6th Annual Video Quality in Public Safety (VQiPS) Workshop in Newark, New Jersey. The event provides the public safety community with a venue to share their most pressing capability gaps in the video arena, as well as to learn about the latest VQiPS knowledge products/tools in development, emerging technologies from industry partners and the latest in video standards.
First responders rely heavily on video technology to increase their situational awareness while attending to an incident onsite, monitoring an incident from afar, or conducting day-to-day response. As video technology has evolved, equipment options have become increasingly complex. Many first response agencies simply do not have the tools and subject matter expertise needed to make informed video system purchasing decisions and often turn to manufacturers for direction. Launched in 2008 as a partnership between S&T and the Department of Commerce Public Safety Communications Research program, VQiPS assists the first response community in clearly defining and communicating their video quality needs by creating unbiased guidance and educational resources. VQiPS also empowers practitioners with the tools and information needed to purchase and deploy the appropriate video technology solutions to support their mission.
The workshop brought together more than 65 attendees from public safety, industry, standards development organizations and federal partners. This year’s agenda covered a wide range of topics, including updates from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Institute of Justice, National Public Safety Telecommunications Council and FirstNet; an overview of S&T’s System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders Program, including a review of the latest report on body worn cameras; insight and key lessons learned using video from the recent Baltimore riots; presentations from the Philadelphia Police Department, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Port Authority New York and New Jersey; and industry updates on the latest in license plate readers, video redaction, body worn cameras, video imaging and video compression space.
Looking ahead, the VQiPS program is currently developing an update to the Digital Video Quality Handbook to highlight the latest in video advancements, such as High Efficiency Video Coding, 4K, and updates in video standards. VQiPS is also working on Video System and Applications Policy Considerations guidance which will serve as a tool to identify critical policy-related considerations, such as video retention, content management and security, as agencies procure and implement their video systems. Both of these documents will be published by the end of 2015.
Presentations from the 2015 VQiPS Workshop are available upon request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
S&T Under Secretary Chicago Visit
On June 24, the Chicago Office of Emergency Management & Communications (OEMC) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) co-hosted leadership discussions and operational facilities tours with Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reggie Brothers and FRG Program Manager Cuong Luu. The visit elevated and deepened intra-agency understanding and points of interest as S&T, OEMC and CPD work to solidify a more formal testbed partnership for new and emerging first responder technologies.
During the visit, S&T met with the following CPD and OEMC representatives to learn more about agency perspectives and needs around first responder technology, capabilities and infrastructure:
- CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy
- CPD Chief of Staff James Roussell
- CPD Deputy Chief Jonathan Lewin
- OEMC Executive Director Gary Schenkel
- OEMC Managing Deputy Director Ruben Madrigal
- OEMC Public Safety IT Deputy Director Dan Casey
In addition to discussing the key issues challenging both agencies, the group touched on current public safety broadband video pilot work that OEMC, CPD and S&T are conducting, as well as plans for a new technology pilot. At each location, the group also learned about Chicago’s public safety technology environment and future vision while touring facilities such as CPD’s Crime Prevention and Information Center and OEMC’s Emergency Operations Center. FRG will next work closely with OEMC and CPD to craft a memorandum of understanding that provides a more formal mechanism for collaboration and information sharing opportunities in the future.
To learn more on how S&T and the City of Chicago got together, read more about the current pilot work.
New Information-Sharing Partnership
On June 29, S&T announced a strategic partnership with Emergency Management Victoria (Australia) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to advance information-sharing capabilities for public safety. The goal: ensure that communities, first responders and emergency management agencies have access to timely and relevant information in order to make effective decisions before, during and after emergencies.
Over the next 12 months, this partnership will help facilitate the development of standards-based approaches for enabling public safety organizations to share information and improve decision-making capabilities, regardless of differences between hardware and software applications. In addition, they agreed to continue to explore the use of the Next Generation Incident Command System (NICS) technology to support public safety needs. Release of the open-source NICS software for the global community is anticipated later this year. Other collaborative research between the partners will include mobile applications, improving communications in rural areas with low connectivity and disaster resiliency.
“This effort with our international research partners will help us to provide front-line emergency managers and response personnel with faster access to critical information,” said Dr. Brothers. “This collaborative effort will also help increase effectiveness of international humanitarian assistance and disaster response resulting in saving lives and reducing property damage.”
Virtual Social Media Working Group
Also in late June, S&T’s Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG) found a new home on FirstResponder.gov. The new landing page on the site features an overview of the group, which was established in 2010 to develop guidance on the safe and sustainable use of social media in public safety. The site also features bios of current and former VSMWG members, a library of reports published by the group and other related resources for download, and a list of frequently asked questions (including how to join the group). Take a tour and let us know what you think!
To learn more about the VSMWG and other programs mentioned in the June 2015 Project Roundup, contact email@example.com.