NPSTC Files Comments Supporting Update of Part 22 Rules

Some jurisdictions have deployed Part 22 channels to supplement public safety land mobile radio spectrum in areas where there were insufficient Part 90 channels available to deploy necessary communications systems.  NPSTC recommends the Commission open a rulemaking to address several key areas that would help enable such secondary market access and use of Part 22 channels for public safety and business critical operations.

In its Public Notice, the FCC seeks comment on whether it is appropriate to consider updating the Part 22, Subpart E, Paging and Radiotelephone Service rules to provide flexibility in the types of uses and technologies that can operate on these channels. Such an update could result in licensees deploying innovative technologies, deploying narrowband equipment, or using offset frequencies if they hold adjacent channel blocks.

NPSTC urges the Commission to move forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address three key areas. These include widening emission bandwidth to match the currently allowed mask and the rules under Part 90, allowing mobiles, portables, and fixed equipment certified under Part 90 to operate on Part 22 channels and modifying buildout requirements to consider wide-area systems that license adjacent areas to provide interference protection. Updating the Part 22 rules in each of these three areas would support the Commission’s interest in enabling secondary market use of spectrum.


Human Factors Design of Onboard Critical Comm and Nav Technologies in Emergency Response Vehicles

High Velocity Human Factors Sciences LLC Reports

Performing any task under time pressure, leave alone high stakes, is hard enough. It gets harder when one is a driver; say, driving on a crowded freeway to the airport when we are running late to catch a flight. Now let us switch roles and imagine that we are driving a first responder vehicle, a fire truck or an ambulance to the airport, in response to a major fire. Where initial reports suggest that many are seriously injured, which includes a few fatalities whose number might grow if the situation is not brought under control.

Needless to say, the sooner we get to the airport, more the lives that can be saved. As an emergency responder our drive to the airport is filled with the percussive blare of the sirens wailing, lights flashing; including, a variety of in-vehicle radio communications (voice and data), which provide continuous updates to us, on issues ranging from coordination to what to expect on the scene. So that we are mentally, physically and organizationally prepared when we arrive on the scene.

An emergency response driver may have to participate in these communications as s/he must build a mental model of the unfolding emergency situation. He does this when driving at or above the speed limit, and deftly maneuvering the vehicle, through heavy traffic. Stated otherwise, the emergency vehicle driver’s situational awareness of the road, traffic conditions and heading (navigation) should be above the norm to avoid collisions or getting lost — which only delay the emergency response. Distraction takes on an entirely different meaning when you compare the citizen-driver with that of the emergency vehicle driver.

However, you would be surprised to hear that for all the attention “distracted driving” has received with regards to the citizen / consumer car (texting, cell phones, etc.), the emergency vehicle has received little attention, if any, in research, design & engineering and the popular press.


Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Approves Emergency Number Service in Yukon

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved, with conditions, an interim service that will make it easier to access emergency responders in the Yukon. The Yukon government proposed the temporary solution while it works to implement 9-1-1 service throughout the territory.  Citizens and visitors will be able to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency situation anywhere in the territory without having to remember the seven-digit telephone numbers that some emergency responders use. By dialing 9-1-1, callers will be directed by an automated service to select either police, fire or EMS from an interactive menu.

CRTC approved this proposal on the condition that all calls to local police, fire and EMS that are not answered must be automatically transferred to the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment or the 9-1-1 call center in Whitehorse.

Courtesy Mission Critical Magazine.

FirstNet and the IG’s Report: Andy Seybold’s Real World Intelligence

FirstNet is a startup “company” formed by Congress to build and maintain the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). The fifteen-member board of directors was appointed in the summer of 2012 and the first board meeting was held in September of that year. Since then, FirstNet has undergone many changes and a few “resets” along the way. Congress called for FirstNet to be an “Independent Authority” under the auspices of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is part of the U. S. Department of Commerce (DOC). Unfortunately, Congress failed to describe what it meant by “Independent Authority” so the meaning was up for interpretation and the NTIA decided that FirstNet would be neither Independent nor an Authority. Instead, it is treated as a government body and is encumbered with all the rules and regulations of a federal agency.

Even under the NTIA there are a number of models for an Independent Authority that would have worked much better than the existing approach. ICANN is the best example because it is truly an independent company, paying industry-compatible wages as opposed to much lower government salaries. I am told that NTIA does not care for the ICANN model since it has no control over its management. The AMTRAK model is also a viable model but that and a few other types of Independent Authorities were passed over as well. This is important to understand before we delve into the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) report and its implications moving forward.

Circulated on December 5, 2014, the OIG report starts out with a letter to Uzoma Onyieje, the FirstNet Board of Directors Secretary, an NTIA employee, and Lawrence E. Strickling, the Assistant Secretary of the NTIA who directly oversees FirstNet. This report is designated as OIG-15-013-1 and can be found here:

The next to last paragraph of the letter of transmittal sums up the OIG’s findings: Continue reading

CDC Reports 44 Percent of U.S. Homes Wireless Only

Forty-four percent of U.S. homes now have only mobile phones, according to preliminary results released today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey. The results from the January-June survey period represent an increase of 3% from the second half of 2013, CDC said. It also said that more than half of adults between the ages of 18 and 44 and children younger than 18 live in wireless-only households. The survey of 22,438 households also found that 33.1% of households that had both wireline and wireless phones got all or nearly all of their calls on wireless phones. The CDC continued to find that people with lower incomes are more likely to rely only on mobile phones. “Adults living in poverty (59.1%) were more likely than those living near poverty (50.8%) and higher income adults (40.8%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones,” it said.

Source:  TRDaily

NIST Tests Reveal Failures of Firefighter Radios

The National Institute of Standards and Technology said that testing it conducted confirmed that portable firefighter radios can fail within 15 minutes when exposed to temperatures of 320 degrees Fahrenheit. “All seven of the firefighter portable radios tested by NIST failed to perform properly within 15 minutes when exposed to temperature levels encountered in ‘fully involved’ fires, as when all the contents in a room or structure are burning,” NIST reported. “Four of the handheld radios stopped transmitting, and three experienced significant ‘signal drift,’ rendering the radios unreliable for communication.” Three of the radios did not recover normal function once they cooled down. NIST said that its “researchers are furnishing their test data and performance measurements to the National Fire Protection Association, which is developing a performance standard for portable radios used by emergency personnel.”

Source:  TRDaily

911 Location Accuracy Plan Criticized by Public Safety, Consumer Groups

December 17, 2014.  A 911 location accuracy plan hammed out by the four national wireless carriers, the National Emergency Number Association, and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International has drawn criticism from a wide range of entities, including public safety, public interest, deaf and hard of hearing, senior citizen, and state regulator groups, as well as technology vendors and other current and retired public safety officials.

However, the plan, unveiled last month (TRDaily, Nov. 14), has attracted support – or at least generally positive comments – from groups representing smaller wireless carriers; wireless equipment, technology, and integrator entities; groups representing state legislators and local telecommunications officials; some public safety professionals; and advocates for the disabled.

The comments were filed by yesterday’s deadline in PS docket 07-114 in response to a public notice seeking comment on the location accuracy plan (TRDaily, Nov. 20).

Under the plan, the focus would be on providing a dispatchable location, although that would take years at best to accomplish – and would not have to be accomplished at all. The plan also lacks specific metrics for vertical deployment and overall vague indoor milestones

In February, the FCC proposed to require wireless carriers to locate 911 callers horizontally indoors within 50 meters for 67% of calls within two years of the rules being adopted and for 80% of calls within five years (TRDaily, Feb. 20). For vertical location, carriers would have to locate callers within three meters, or approximately floor-level location, for 67% of calls within three years and for 80% of calls within five years. The wireless industry has argued that those proposed deployment milestones were too aggressive and not feasible given the state of technology. Continue reading

Enabling the “Smart” Firefighter of Tomorrow

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports, “The fire service and other emergency first responders are currently benefiting from enhanced-existing and newly-developed electronic technologies. Fire fighters are now operating in an ever increasing sensor rich environment that is creating vast amounts of potentially useful data. The “smart” fire fighter of tomorrow is envisioned as being able to fully exploit select data to perform work tasks in a highly effective and efficient manner.

Behind the advances of the new sensor and tool enhanced fire fighter of tomorrow are profound questions of what to do with this deluge of valuable information that comes with much of this equipment. The enormous amount of available data in our ever increasing sensor rich environment is changing our way of life. A popular descriptive phrase used in today’s common lexicon is “big data”, and it is indicative of the systematic use of the information being leveraged in ways that were unimaginable a short time ago. This is an area that is informed by the field of “cyber-physical systems.”

Available data, the comprehensive ability to analyze and process this data, and an increasingly sensor rich environment are all opening new possibilities for the fire service to address unwanted fires. This involves all manner of their job performance duties, and includes during pre-fire, trans-fire (i.e. during the event) and post-fire stages. This project is focused on developing the research roadmap to clarify the research needed to most effectively use the immense quantity of available data, the computational power to compute and communicate that data, the knowledge base and algorithms to most effectively process the data, convert it into significant knowledge/beneficial decision tools, and effectively communicate the information to those who need it – on the fire ground and elsewhere.

This project is funded by NIST, and the research program will be conducted under the auspices of the Fire Protection Research Foundation in a collaborative agreement with NIST. The scheduled completion date for this project is the Fall of 2014.”

 Read entire article here:

House Passes Consolidated and Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015

On Thursday, December 11, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Consolidated and Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, which:

  • Provides a total of $1.1 trillion for the operation of the federal government
  • Contains full funding for FY 2015 for 11 of the 12 regular annual Appropriations bills
  • Does not include new appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); DHS is funded under a CR, which means that DHS funding is maintained at FY 2014 levels, and expires on February 27, 2015, the date when Congress will need to decide how it will fund the agency through the end of the 2015 Fiscal Year (i.e., through an extended CR or through new appropriations)

On Saturday, December 13, the Senate approved the Act, including the 11 appropriations bills that fund most of the government through September 30, 2015, and the CR which funds DHS through February 27, 2015. The President signed the bill into law on Tuesday, December 16, 2014.


Closing the 911 Location Accuracy Gap, by Admiral David Simpson, Chief, PSHSB

Earlier this year, the Commission proposed rules to help first responders better locate indoor wireless 911 callers. The reason was clear: the vast majority of 911 calls are from mobile phones, and we are not where we need to be on location accuracy for wireless 911 calls. This puts American lives at risk and requires swift action from the FCC, from wireless carriers, and from public safety officials. Next Wednesday marks a deadline for public comments on the latest proposal we have received in this proceeding. To get this right, it is important that the Commission hear from stakeholders on many key questions.

Make no mistake, locating wireless 911 callers indoors is not easy. The technologies used to locate outdoor callers simply don’t work as well indoors. Additionally, today’s 911 location technologies can’t tell a 911 call center what floor a call is coming from. Imagine the challenge this creates for an EMS technician when responding to a medical emergency in a 50-story skyscraper!

First responders must be able to locate 911 callers – indoors or outdoors – quickly and accurately. Even a few minutes of delay can cost lives. We must do better to close the gaps in our 911 safety net. And there’s good reason to think we will. Continue reading