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Responder News: Winter Project Roundup

Responder News: Winter Project Roundup

Release Date: 
February 8, 2016

The Department Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) regularly posts a roundup of key updates from projects currently in the development stages. This article outlines FRG's accomplishments in November, December and January.

S&T Receives Royalties from Sales of Radio Internet-Protocol Communications Module

Photo of RIC-M Royalty Check CeremonyOn November 12, S&T received the first royalties from sales of the Radio Internet-Protocol Communications Module (RIC-M), an interface device that allows first responder communications equipment (i.e., dispatch consoles, base stations and radios) to operate seamlessly regardless of manufacturer. The technology revolutionizes how first responders communicate; it makes new and legacy systems interoperable, reduces costs and allows seamless transition when devices are upgraded or need to be replaced.

S&T recently licensed the RIC-M technology to two vendors: Christine Wireless, Inc. and Avtec Inc.; units are now available for purchase by response agencies. As S&T maintains ownership of the intellectual property, trademark and patent, the Directorate will continue to receive a percentage of all sales for at least the next five years—all royalties will fund new technology development for first responders.

Datacasting Bridges Public/Private Partnership Gap

The 2015 Secured Cities Exclusive Security Innovation Awards honored FRG and partners as the Grand Platinum winner for their Datacasting Technology Pilot Exercise.

On November 12, Security Technology Executive magazine and Secured Cities, the nation’s only public/private partnership initiative for public safety and security, honored top innovators in the security industry at their awards luncheon.

Datacasting is a technology that transmits encrypted live video and data over existing broadcast television signals to a targeted audience, improving data sharing and interoperability at minimal cost and effort.

The pilot exercise was conducted in late July 2015 in Houston, Texas, to demonstrate the ability of datacasting to support public safety communications in an operational environment. It also focused on how public/private partnerships can be leveraged to address growing content delivery needs. Participants touted the installation and operation of the system as user-friendly and even described datacasting as a potentially life-saving tool. The equipment currently remains in place and is now being evaluated in an operational capability.

Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment Main Planning Conference

Partners from FRG and Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science gathered in Sarnia, Ontario, on November 18 and 19 for the Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE) main planning conference. The fourth iteration of the CAUSE experiment series is scheduled for summer 2016 and is expected to build on the successes and lessons learned from CAUSE III, which took place in fall 2014.

The objectives of the CAUSE series is to explore how to build a binational communications interoperability capability, and to connect, test and demonstrate the emerging operational technologies available between the two countries.

The conference outlined the operations and design for CAUSE IV, which will be located at the Blue Water Bridge that borders Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario. The experiment consists of two crucial parts. The first part will test the interoperability of paramedic and health services by fielding cross-border broadband and wireless networks that examine voice data, electrocardiogram tracing, live video, patient records and overall situational awareness (such as vehicle tracking) over the course of the emergency scenario.

The second aspect of the experiment will pilot a binational capability to automate and link siloed models for alerting, situational awareness, citizen engagement and mutual aid planning efforts into an integrated and semi-automated process and capability that enables emergency managers to more precisely and efficiently work together.

NUSTL Hosts the Indian Police Commissioners Delegation

On November 16, the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) hosted a delegation of police commissioners from major Indian cities, such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. The visit was arranged at the request of the Embassy of India and also included India’s Ministry of Home Affairs Joint Secretary and New York City Deputy Consul General Dr. Manoj Mohapatra.

NUSTL serves as a federal resource supporting the successful development, evaluation and transition of homeland security technologies into field use for law enforcement, fire and other emergency response agencies. The purpose of the event was to exchange ideas on megacity policing and acquaint the guests, who are responsible for police modernization in India, with S&T research and development capabilities. The delegation was particularly focused on the use of technologies in policing practices for large urban areas, which closely aligned with NUSTL’s work in the New York metropolitan area.

Deputy Director Alice Hong provided a NUSTL overview, describing the lab’s history, mission and core capabilities. She also presented examples of NUSTL’s field- and-lab based services for first responders, including testing, evaluation and analyses of responder technologies and systems. Staff members then offered a tour of the lab and provided a series of project demonstrations. Additionally, the Indian delegation met with New York City Police Department before travelling to Washington for additional meetings with DHS and S&T leadership.

Chicago Long Term Evolution (LTE) Project Report

The Chicago Police Department tested broadband-enabled technologies through the Chicago LTE pilot project. The Chicago LTE pilot leverages the city’s existing investments and infrastructure to allow first responders to see what happens if they are in an urban area with high-speed, real-time access to a variety of law enforcement video information all at once over public safety broadband. The Chicago LTE Video Pilot Lessons Learned and Test Report has been published.

First Responder Communities of Practice

First Responder Communities of Practice (FRCoP) is a professional networking, collaboration and communication platform created by S&T to support improved information sharing between first responders and other federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local governments and the private sector.

Community members strive to collaborate on emergency preparedness, response, recovery and other homeland security issues by seeking and providing subject matter expertise to other members, accessing critical documents, and forming communities around specific projects or areas of interest. Membership on FRCoP tops 8,000 as of January 2016 and recently added a few new communities of practice.

Resilient Systems Division Joins First Responders Group

This December, FRG Division Director Dr. Richard Legault and Program Manager Dr. Kathleen Deloughery met with international partners from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (UK) to formalize opportunities for cooperative programs regarding evaluations of countering violent extremism (CVE) policies and research. Specifically, Legault and Deloughery participated in the Kanishka Project Symposium titled “Building on International Research Partnerships to Understand and Address Violent Extremism and Terrorism.” In addition, representatives from the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) Center of Excellence gave presentations on “Profiles of Individuals Radicalized in the United States” and “Family and Community Capacity.”

Along with representatives from the DHS Office for Community Partnerships (OCP), Legault and Deloughery were able to conduct follow-up meetings with Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. They solidified a quadrilateral program of work to study the impact of narratives and counter-narratives on individual and group radicalization, which led to a consensus among all five countries on specific verbal project agreements.

Outcomes of discussions led to verbal commitments on potential international cooperative programs in early 2016. This initiative has grown from the outcomes of the Five Research & Development (5RD) Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Workshop that S&T hosted in July 2015. This CVE engagement represents a new model for international partnership within S&T; it is the multilateral program plan for international cooperative activity. This model for multilateral partnership will build on the strength of engaging our foreign partners while reducing the amount of resources needed for implementation.

Internet of Things Pilot Project Demonstration

On January 13, S&T showcased technologies with the Internet of Things (IoT) pilot project. IoT has the potential to serve first responders by providing fast changing situational awareness through fixed, deployable mobile sensors in real time during emergencies. Instant access to information is critical for first responders. This concept will be integral as industries adopt open standards that make mobile sensors easily and immediately identifiable, accessible and interoperable.

FRG’s Information Application and Standards division, led by Project Manager Jeff Booth, has been working with key partners, including the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), along with representatives from global industry and university performers. FRG’s IoT Phase I demonstration showed how the IoT project has been designed to integrate and exchange data from a variety of proprietary sensors.

The IoT sensor integration team demonstrated the use of these technologies in a real world-type scenario where multiple first responder domains (fire, law enforcement and emergency medical) discovered and applied diverse commercially available sensors to provide situational awareness.

Various industry sensors can be integrated today using open standards that remove the stovepipe limitations of one-off technologies. The next phase of the IoT project will focus on integrating the sensor technologies with a communication ‘hub’ as part of the Next Generation First Responder Apex Program.

To learn more about the other programs and updates mentioned in the November/December/January Project Roundup, contact first.responder@hq.dhs.gov.

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