The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) relies on experienced emergency response and preparedness professionals to guide its research and development efforts. The First Responder Resource Group (FRRG) fills that role. An all-volunteer working group, the FRRG helps S&T maintain focus on the top-priority needs of responders in the field. This series highlights several FRRG members, offering a glimpse into their daily responsibilities, as well as their ongoing support of S&T technology development.
At eight-years old, Jack Hanagriff already knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up: he wanted to serve the public. “Public service is in my blood,” he said. “I just knew I wanted to do something that allowed me to help people, and this is one of the best ways to be able to do that."
He began his journey of public service as a teenager working at a hospital. At the age of 18, he joined the military as a police officer, a role that further confirmed his aspirations to serve his community and help others.
In 1982, he made what he considers to be the best decision of his life by joining the Houston Police Department. “The comradery and team spirit is remarkable. Everyone’s always willing to help each other. Not only do we help our fellow officers, but we help perfect strangers.”
Since then, he has dedicated his life to helping others and solving problems working in a variety of public safety positions. There was never a dull moment for Jack. His tenure as a police officer includes a variety of field and undercover work, including street patrol, bike patrol, nuisance abatement, transportation safety, field officer training and more, making him a true “Jack of all trades.”
In 2009, Jack joined the Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, where he continues to work today. In this role, he uses the expertise he gained over the years to assist in preparedness activities to prevent, protect from, respond to, and recover from man-made and natural disasters or major emergencies throughout the Houston-Galveston region. As part of this effort, he got involved with various organizations assisting first responders in finding the tools, technologies and training they need to help them perform their jobs more quickly and efficiently.
This led him to the Video Quality in Public Safety (VQiPS) Workshop where he joined the leadership board and was first introduced to the First Responders Group (FRG). The VQiPS initiative is a partnership between DHS Science and Technology Directorate and the U.S. Department of Commerce Public Safety Communications Research program. VQiPS develops unbiased guidance documents and educational resources to assist the first responder community in clearly defining and communicating their video quality needs.
At his first workshop, he met FRG Program Manager Cuong Luu and his associates, marking the beginning of a fruitful partnership. Over the years, Jack and Luu have worked together on various initiatives, with the datacasting technology as their biggest success to date.
Datacasting is a technology solution that leverages broadcast television spectrum to transmit secure video and other information among specified public safety users, providing a new and cost-effective method to relieve traffic from traditional wireless infrastructure. “Datacasting allows first responders to connect and gives them the situational awareness and information they need to make informed decisions when responding to an incident,” Jack explained.
Through Jack’s assistance, FRG’s datacasting technology was successfully piloted in the summer of 2015, demonstrating the ability to support public safety communications in an operational environment. Due to its unique scope and application, the pilot exercise was unanimously selected as the top overall security project of the year and the City of Houston, FRG, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and subcontractor SpectraRep received the Grand Platinum award at the 2015 Secured Cities Exclusive Security Innovation Awards ceremony.
Since the pilot, Jack has worked with the datacasting team to facilitate testing an additional capability of a datacasting cellphone app in early February in Houston. Jack also led the use of this technology at several large events in Houston, including the Republican Presidential Debate in February 2016, the NCAA Final Four in early April and the flooding caused by the storms that hit the city in mid-April.
Luu is glad to have such a great partnership with Jack and the City of Houston. He noted, “Jack has been instrumental in the piloting of datacasting in Houston. He just has the ability to connect everyone with the right people and has such extensive knowledge and background of the public safety world that has truly helped us in getting the tool to first responders and figuring out ways to improve it to best meet the needs of actual responders.”
On working with the FRG, he noted, “It’s been exceptional. They thoroughly understand both technologies and first responder environments. This group has a great understanding of both of these realms and has taken the time to figure out just how to perfectly mesh them together so the tools and products they come up with can really help responders. Working with FRG has helped broadened my expertise of technologies and helped me identify systems and tools that I can bring back to the first responder community.”
Check back soon for additional FRRG member spotlights. For more information on how to become a member of the FRRG, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.