DHS S&T Announces Winners of Innovation Prize Competition

Washington, D.C. – The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate announced the winners of S&T’s first innovation prize competition: The Vreeland Institute, Inc., of Copake, N.Y., and Certa Cito, LLC, of Rochester, N.Y. The competition, “Indoor Tracking of the Next Generation First Responders” focused on the challenge of keeping track of first responders when they are inside buildings, tunnels and other structures.

Interested in learning more? Read the full S&T Press Release.

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, May 22, 2015

FirstNet held its first Industry Day to discuss the Request for Proposal (RFP) draft which is on the street for comments. I missed it but was able to find out from the web-site a lot of what transpired. It appears as if the business model is looming as the big unknown at this point. Will there be serious bidders who will stand up to spend the Billions of dollars needed to build out this network? Will they believe that the money spent will be an investment in secondary spectrum usage that will assist them with broadband demand?

The other big issue is how many States will opt out and what will the final rules be for these opt-outs. I believe that several states might opt out not because they are not interested in FirstNet for their State but simply because, like anything else that includes both Federal and State governments, there are political situations at play here also. Questions are due next week on May 28th and final comments are due at the end of July. I hope that we all get another chance to see a revised draft before the final RFP is published, the more everyone get to see the changes the more likely FirstNet is to have some qualified bidders. My question still is, does FirstNet have a plan is there is no qualified bidder after the RFP is opened? Other news is below, have a great and safe holiday week-end! Andy Continue reading

Hartsville Messenger Reports: Darlington Native Lloyd Mitchell Recognized for Outstanding Service

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council has recognized Darlington native Lloyd Mitchell, the South Carolina Forestry Commission’s statewide communications coordinator, for his exemplary service to the arena of public safety telecommunications by presenting him with the NPSTC Participants Award.

The NPSTC Participants Award was created to recognize individuals and/or organizations that have supported NPSTC and the public safety community on critical objectives such as achieving interoperability. Mitchell’s contributions play a role in the important work NPSTC does to make public safety telecommunications better

Read complete article here: http://www.scnow.com/messenger/news/article_788e34fc-ff23-11e4-8433-7797c4ac0c12.html

Texas Governor Signs Bill to Require Direct Access to 9-1-1 from MLTS

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R.) on Friday signed into law a measure that will require direct access to 911 service from certain Internet-protocol based telephone systems, including multi-line telephone systems (MLTS).  The new law takes effect Sept. 1, 2015.

SB 788 requires that a business service user that provides telecommunications service, owns or controls a telephone system or an equivalent system that uses IP-enabled service, and provides outbound dialing capacity or access to “configure the telephone system or equivalent system to allow a person initiating a 911 call on the system to directly access 911 service by dialing the digits 911 without an additional code, digit, prefix, postfix, or trunk-access code.”

The bill requires a business service user to comply with the bill’s provisions no later than Sept. 1, 2016.  The new law authorizes the Commission on State Emergency Communications to grant a one-year waiver of the bill’s requirements to a business service user if the requirements would be “unduly and unreasonably cost prohibitive” for a business service user to comply.  The business service user, however, must agree to place an instructional sticker adjacent to each telephone that is accessed using the noncompliant system indicating that during the waiver period the telephone is unable to directly dial 911 and providing instructions for accessing 911 in case of an emergency. Continue reading

Click 2 Houston Reports on ETHAN, Help for EMS

Houston paramedics and EMTs receive between 700-800 calls for help every day, but among the shootings, stabbings, heart attacks and strokes are those who abuse the 911 system.  We get called for people with blisters on their feet,” said Houston Fire Department Senior Capt. Andrew Moore. “Honest to God, you know, I’ve been called for paper cuts.”

Moore said these type of repetitive calls for non-emergencies is a leading reason for burnout among paramedics and EMTs. “That’s the most frustrating thing my medics have to deal with,” said Moore. “They’re just worn out getting called by folks that don’t understand or the folks that do understand and don’t care.”

“Do you think there are people who use you guys as a free taxi service and don’t really understand what the point of 911 is?” asked Local 2 investigator Robert Arnold.

“Absolutely, that happens every day,” said Moore. “I was called for a guy that walked through tall grass and then called me out to see if he had been bitten by a snake because had heard snakes were in tall grass.”

City EMS officials, citing a recent study by the School of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, estimate that 30-40 percent of 911 calls for medical help do not involve true emergencies that require a trip to the emergency room, yet city officials said about half of all calls for help result in a person being transported to an emergency room by ambulance. Paramedics and EMTs cannot refuse to transport someone to the hospital.

The starting cost of a city of Houston ambulance ride is $1,000. Currently, the city of Houston is owed approximately $300 million in unpaid ambulance bills. The price tag is comprised of people who truly needed help and cannot afford to pay the bill, plus those who dial 911 when it’s really not an emergency.

City of Houston Medical Director Dr. David Persse said many of the people who dial 911 for non-emergencies do so because they do need some type of medical care, but they don’t know how to access the system without dialing 911.

They just don’t know how to get the health care or the help they need so they resort to calling 911 because they don’t know what else to do,” said Persse. “That’s the most expensive form of transportation to the most expensive form of unscheduled healthcare and there’s got to be a better way.”

Persse said the city believes it has found that better way through a new program called the ETHAN project, or Emergency TeleHealth And Navigation.

The city’s associate medical director, Dr. Michael Gonzalez, explained the goal will be to have every fire truck and ambulance in the city carry tablets that have cameras which can be used to help evaluate patients in the field to help them access healthcare in a more efficient way.

Read complete article here: http://www.click2houston.com/news/new-hitech-program-helps-to-curb-unnecessary-ambulance-rides/25964116


S&T National Conversation Asks for Thoughts on Cyber Research

In an ideal world, underlying digital infrastructure will be self-detecting, self-protecting, and self-healing. Users will trust that information is protected, illegal use is deterred, and privacy is not compromised. Security will operate seamlessly in the background. The S&T National Conversation is intended to foster an exchange between users and innovators to generate sustainable homeland security solutions toward making the ideal a reality.

What are you thoughts on…
  • Our most pertinent cyber concerns?
  • The most crucial areas for cyber research?
  • How the impact of cyber research can be maximized?
  • How to improve the rate by which cyber solutions transition to operational use?
  • The single biggest key to improved cybersecurity over the next five years?

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate May 18, 2015

I apologize that this did not go out last Friday, I was in Dayton for the annual Amateur Radio Convention and spent the day in the Flea market and kicking the tires on some new products, some of which will make their way into the public safety community within the next year. The 28th of May (next week) is the deadline for providing any questions on the FirstNet RFP draft. I will be submitting a number of questions asking for clarification as I assume many others will be. I do not expect that we will learn from this round who many of the potential bidders are because I assume that those sending in the questions may be a cover for the actual company asking the questions. I am not even sure that those who respond with comments on the RFP at the end of July will really reflect those interested in bidder either. I think that the first indication we will have about who really submitted a bid is when FirstNet opens the RFP’s and perhaps discloses the names of the companies and/or partnerships. From the FirstNet perspective this week’s news is pretty light, so is the news on Net Neutrality as the FCC, those who have filed with the Courts to try and block the FCC’s ruling and Congress are all in kind of a waiting mode to see what the next shoe to drop will be. I believe that it will take a lot of time to sort all of this out and come up with the final answer to how the Internet is going to be managed going forward. This news summary should back on schedule this Friday, have a great week! Andy

Continue reading

Sherman: FCC Helping Railroads Secure Spectrum To Deploy PTC

In the wake of this week’s deadly Amtrak accident in Philadelphia, which the National Transportation Safety Board said could have been averted with the deployment of positive train control (PTC), the FCC today stressed that it has worked with railroads to help them secure spectrum for PTC.

“In 2008, Congress passed a law requiring Amtrak and other commuter and freight railroads to deploy interoperable PTC systems by December 31, 2015, but did not designate spectrum, a finite resource, for PTC use or make funds available for railroads to acquire access to spectrum,” Roger Sherman, chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, noted in a blog posting. “The railroads are seeking commercial spectrum to deploy PTC, which – by law – must be acquired at auction or from third parties,” Mr. Sherman added.

“Since Congress passed the law in 2008 requiring PTC, the FCC has been working closely with railroads and Amtrak to identify available spectrum on the secondary market and to approve transactions quickly. “We continue to be actively involved in helping freight and commuter trains such as Amtrak acquire spectrum,” Mr. Sherman stressed. “In fact, the FCC approved Amtrak’s application for spectrum for the Washington D.C. to New York corridor after an expedited review and just two days after Amtrak submitted a final amendment to the agency in March 2015.”

Railroads have complained for years of difficulties in securing spectrum, but the FCC has said that frequencies are available on the secondary market. The seven Class I freight railroads formed a consortium, PTC-220 LLC, to acquire 220 megahertz spectrum for PTC. Mr. Sherman also noted in his blog posting that the FCC manages “the mandatory historic preservation and environmental reviews of PTC system infrastructure.” The deployment of tens of thousands of antennas has been another sticking point for railroads, with companies saying the FCC’s process has slowed roll out. Continue reading

House Panel Approves SWIC Bill

The House Homeland Security Committee’s emergency preparedness, response, and communications subcommittee today approved by voice vote the State Wide Interoperable Communications (SWIC) Enhancement Act (HR 2206), which was introduced by Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.), the subcommittee’s ranking member. It would require recipients of State Homeland Security Grant Program funding to show they have a statewide interoperability coordinator or someone who performs the same functions.

FirstNet Officially Announces Meetings

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has officially announced its board and committee meetings for next month in San Diego. The board’s four committees will meet sequentially June 2 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT at the Omni San Diego Hotel. The full board is scheduled to meet June 3 from 8 to 10 a.m. at the hotel.