The COVID-19 pandemic, which to date has sickened tens of thousands of Americans and killed hundreds, is testing the viability of the FirstNet network in ways never seen before. The exponential increase in the number of cases in the country is pulling in more and more emergency medical services personnel, police officers, firefighters and other public safety officials, often in more remote areas, who all need real-time data exchange, network connectivity and communication tools.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported on January 17 that its Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate had completed the final integration of a smart city technology pilot in St. Louis as part of a program designed to enhance overall public safety and streamline operations across the city’s departments.
“This final rollout event, which included a series of tabletop exercises and operational scenarios, demonstrated how these technologies could be leveraged by first responders, emergency managers and other city officials in real-life events, such as floods, fires or earthquakes,” the DHS indicated.
In a dark, wet and rocky research coal mine in western Pennsylvania, teams from around the globe put their robotic systems to the test in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s, or DARPA’s, latest contest. The agency designed the Subterranean Challenge, also known as the SubT Challenge, to spur the advancement of technologies that work well underground, including autonomous and other robotic systems, which could benefit first responders and the military, explained Timothy Chung, program manager, Tactical Technology Office, DARPA, to the media in attendance at the event.
First responders can’t always use the same apps the general public depends on to get to their destination by the fastest route. Commercial apps may not factor in delays such as weather events, traffic accidents or the size and weight of their vehicles.
The requirement to share information and communicate effectively via radio or other equipment during natural disasters, fires, crimes or catastrophes has only increased for police officers, firefighters and other public safety personnel. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST's) Communications Technology Laboratory, known as the CLT, has been working to improve interoperability among the first responders and other public safety organizations, conducting research to update legacy systems and harness new mobile technologies to exchange vital voice and data communications in a crisis
Amid broad federal, state and local efforts to improve public safety communications, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is leading research to establish interoperability among diverse government organizations that aid the public when it is most in peril. The agency’s goal is for legacy systems and new mobile technologies to exchange vital voice and data communications in a crisis.
A quantum physics-based technology developed by National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers may enable first responders, warfighters and mariners to communicate and navigate in areas where radio and satellite-based communications are limited or nonexistent. The capability would allow military and emergency personnel to stay connected in urban canyons, under rubble, inside buildings, underground or even underwater.
Homeland security researchers are defining the specifications for a central hub device that will protect, connect and inform the next generation of first responders and may be one step toward a miniature Internet of Things designed specifically for emergencies. The hub may be a personal cellphone that will provide a customizable feed of voice, video and data from an array of Internet of Things sensors, enhancing response efforts and ultimately saving lives.
BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc., Burlington, Massachusetts, has been awarded an $8,688,675 cost-plus-fixed-fee completion contract for software. Contractor will provide research, develop, demonstrate and deliver a PHOENIX software system that allows first responders to entirely disconnect a non-cooperative organization from its network infrastructure and then selectively reform on a separate secure emergency network. Work will be performed at Burlington, Massachusetts, and is expected to be complete by July 29, 2020. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with 70 offers received.
Broadband satellite connectivity has moved up to become a key element of emergency response support. The failure of other communications networks from damage caused by catastrophic disasters has compelled local and state governments to work with their federal counterparts on establishing satellite connectivity under the worst of conditions.
When sections of the Northeast were devastated in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy, the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the Atlantic season that year, nearly 80 percent of the cellular services went down. This left millions of people without any way to communicate for several days—not just with loved ones, but also with state and federal agencies to seek help.
Fire, police and emergency medical personnel in New Jersey will have access to a dedicated first responder network established to ensure priority access and resiliency during natural disasters or attacks.
PMC Associates, Oceus Networks and Fujitsu Network Communications are collaborating to create the JerseyNet project, said to be the first public safety-grade mobile 4G LTE broadband network. It will give first responders a secure, sustainable deployable network that can deliver remote, mobile capabilities mounted on varying platforms, from towable trailers to sport utility vehicles and vans.
A science-based software tool for the iPad allows first responders to learn from models of building damage and other conditions that occur after a disaster. Developed by Sandia National Laboratories, the Standard Unified Modeling, Mapping and Integration Toolkit (SUMMIT) enables firefighters, medics and police officers to visualize damaged buildings. The tool will allow them to tap into existing models that feature details of buildings, infrastructure and casualties. During exercises, it will visualize an integrated scenario and make it available to all participants in a master control cell.
Harris Corporation recently received a $14 million contract from the State of Vermont to deploy a statewide radio system for public safety first responders and state agencies. The system meets Vermont's specific requirements for regional and cross-border communications - connecting local, state and federal agencies within the state, and providing interoperability with agencies in neighboring states and Canada. The Project 25 standards-based system will be built on Harris Voice, Interoperability, Data, Access network technology, an Internet Protocol-based interoperable radio communications technology that fully complies with emerging standards.
Today was an exciting day at West 2010--and I'm not talking about the dynamic speakers and exhibitors. This morning my hotel had a small fire somewhere near the lobby, so I woke up before my alarm because of the loud, persistent sirens coming in through my window. Fortunately the situation was handled quickly and easily--thanks to San Diego's finest first responders. Unfortunately, I saw those first responders this afternoon after a medical emergency occurred on the exhibit floor.