In an effort to enhance safety and performance of first responders in fast moving, complex emergency environments, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is undertaking a multiyear project to create wearable communication systems for emergency responders.
According to a recent announcement on FedBizOpps, PNNL is looking for a partner with knowledge of the integration of communications systems typically used by the emergency management and first responder community, including 4G LTE cellular technology for public safety communications, Federal Land Mobile Radio Systems (LMR), as well as Wi-Fi and satellite systems.
PNNL wants to identify companies that can integrate these systems into wearable components that would enable first responders to transmit and receive mission critical voice, video, and data communications from fellow responders, incident commanders, dispatchers and central command and control facilities.
Specifically, the lab is looking for approaches that include the following:
- Rugged, secure, voice activated, hands free, two- way voice, video and data communications with multiple parties.
- GPS-enabled Blue Force Tracking of each responder.
- Active noise canceling capability to eliminate any unnecessary background noise.
- Smart technology to find and transition between cellular, LMR, Wi-Fi, and satellite systems and transmit and receive information based on information priorities and infrastructure availability.
- Integrated sensors monitoring video, heart rate, external/internal temperatures
- Recording and storage capability of up to 12 hours.
- A seamless transition to existing federal land-based mobile systems and the ability to demonstrate compliance with existing Federal Communications Security Protocols for Emergency Management.
Posted on Aug 12, 2014 at 9:44 AM0 comments
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules requiring text messaging providers to enable Americans to text 911 in an emergency. The new rules will ensure that all remaining wireless carriers and certain IP-based text application providers are prepared to support text-to-911 by the end of the year. After that time, if a 911 call center requests text-to-911, text messaging providers will have six months to deploy the service in that area.
According to the FCC, these rules will make text-to-911 more uniformly available and keeps pace with how Americans communicate.
The Commission’s text-to-911 requirements apply to wireless carriers and “interconnected” text messaging providers (i.e., those that enable consumers to send text messages to and from U.S. phone numbers). This includes providers of “over the top” applications that support texting to and from phone numbers. It does not include messaging apps that only support communications among users of games or social media, the FCC said.
Although text-to-911 availability is currently limited, it is rapidly expanding. More than one hundred 911 call centers serving portions of 16 states and two entire states (Vermont and Maine) are now accepting emergency texts. Text messaging providers are required to send an automatic “bounce-back” text message to consumers who try to text 911 where the service is not available.
Text-to-911 can provide a lifesaving alternative in a number of different situations, such as when a person who is deaf, hard of hearing, or has a speech disability is unable to make a voice call. The service can also help where voice networks are congested; or where a 911 voice call could endanger the caller, according to the FCC.
The Commission also wants comment on the continued evolution of text-to-911, including delivering texts to appropriate 911 public safety answering points as well as on proposals to improve text-to-911 service, such as through better location information and roaming support.
Posted on Aug 11, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments
The state of Ohio is spending $62 million to consolidate legacy information technology systems across its state government agencies, according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch.
The project, which would centralize about 9,000 servers and 30 smaller data centers across 26 state agencies, is estimated to save $150 million, according to the report.
In December 2013, the state released its Consolidated IT Transformation Approach, which describes the strategy and implementation plans, which fall into three focus areas:
Private cloud expansion, which involves the consolidation, standardization and integration of the state’s highly distributed technical infrastructure into a centrally managed environment.
Enterprise shared solutions, which will provide a platform for common service application development.
Online government services that will deliver citizen-facing tools citizens to improve government-citizen interaction.
The state’s controlling board recently made a down payment on the project, approving a $62 million expenditure to get the project rolling.
The collaborative effort is expected to take five to seven years, a calculation taking into account the length of time state agencies have spent building-up their individual IT stovepipes.
The decision to begin funding the project raised questions by state legislators who asked whether taxpayers might be paying twice for the new systems.
“I don’t see the agencies standing behind you saying, ‘Take $62 million out of my budget,’ ” said one legislator, who asked for reports on how the project would produce savings.
However, Jennifer Leymaster, the Administrative Services’ agency chief financial officer, told legislators that funds for the money was in agency budgets, according to the report.
“This is a better way to run the state’s information technology business,” the Dispatch quoted Leymaster as saying. “We're not doing it 26 ways, but having one agency provide services.”
The consolidation will lead to the creation of 132 information technology positions, to be filled with workers from other agencies. However, the state expects eventually to cut the number of employees in technology jobs by 400 through attrition, the Dispatch reported.
Posted on Aug 08, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments
The University of Maryland has launched an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site in southern Maryland. With support from the University System of Maryland, the site will bring together leaders in academia, industry and government to accelerate UAS research.
Based in St. Mary’s County, a few miles from Naval Air Warfare Center Aviation Division at Patuxent River and the Naval Air Systems Command headquarters, the UMD UAS test site has been set up as a catalyst for research and development, according to its sponsors.
The test site is part of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, in concert with Virginia and New Jersey, under the Federal Aviation Administration UAS Test Site program, and will help the FAA integrate UAS into the national airspace.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, who represents the district in which UMD and the UAS test site are located, said, “With Patuxent River Naval Air Station serving as a premier facility for research, development, testing, and evaluation, our region is already a hub for aviation innovation, and today’s launch of the UAS test site will put southern Maryland at the forefront of integrating unmanned autonomous systems into our national airspace.”
Managed by UMD’s Clark School of Engineering, the test will also create and deliver products and programs in support of workforce development and higher education goals.
“I am pleased that the University of Maryland, College Park will manage the site, and that its educational value extends to all University System of Maryland faculty, staff and students, as well as K-12 students throughout the state,” said Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan of the University System of Maryland.
The test site will serve as a hub for the University System of Maryland, government, and industry to address issues related to UAS technology and policy, and will provide new opportunities for those in the region.
“This new addition to the St. Mary’s County Technology Corridor is the first step toward a larger autonomous research initiative in the region,” said Maryland Delegate John Bohanan, who advocated for the establishment of the UMD UAS Test Site since the idea was conceived. “The test site represents the next big transformation of our Southern Maryland economy, and will offer up new job opportunities for Maryland residents.”
“Our existing relationship with the University of Maryland serves as the foundation of this new test site,” said Vice Admiral David Dunaway, commander of NAVAIR. “The sharing of human capital and expertise from the university, government, and industry will be a conduit for technology transfer, and the overall betterment of national security.”
Matt Scassero, a former Navy captain who helped lead the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, is Director of the new UMD UAS Test Site.
Posted on Aug 07, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments
The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation has openings for two new Mayor’s Innovation Fellows.
The one-year program seeks to leverage entrepreneurial minds from all sectors to help San Francisco tackle challenging civic issues. During the fellowship year, particpants will have an opportunity to manage projects several areas including open data and standards, workforce innovation for low-income San Francisco residents and data-driven financial management.
The program is designed primarily for individuals with 5-8 years of private-sector experience in technology and innovation fields. The deadline has been extended to Aug. 22, 2014.
More information is available from the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation.
Posted on Aug 06, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments