DHS-developed tech could give first responders

DHS-developed tech could give legacy radio systems new life

The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate has licensed its Radio Internet-Protocol Communications Module (RIC-M) for commercial use, in hopes of helping first responders more easily and affordably upgrade legacy communications systems.According to a DHS announcement, the RIC-M allows responder organizations to upgrade and reconfigure their legacy systems at a low cost through an external, stand-alone interface that connects the base stations, consoles and other components of traditional radio frequency systems via IP. This allows organizations to connect components of different brands or to upgrade a system in piecemeal fashion without losing interoperability.

With the RIC-M, DHS said, the lifespan of expensive legacy systems used by local, state and federal responders could be extended by up to 20 years.

RIC-Ms were first released in 2011 and since have been used by Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Protective Service, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service.

A key mission for DHS “is to work hand-in-hand with first responders – determining their needs, identifying solutions, testing progress and incorporating feedback, and then making the technology available for their daily use,” DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers said. “RIC-M is a shining example of a collaborative effort that will further assist our partners in public safety communications.”

Christine Wireless Inc. and Avtec Inc. were awarded the licenses as part of a cooperative research and development agreement to manufacture and sell RIC-Ms in commercial markets.  Interested agencies can order the devices from both vendors and will also soon be able to procure the devices via General Services Administration schedules.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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