FirstNet Holds First Industry Day to Detail Draft RFP

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) held its first industry day to discuss in detail the special notice and draft request for proposals (RFP) that it released last month (TRDaily, April 27), although FirstNet officials and the authority’s contracting officer declined to answer a number of questions posed by attendees while in other cases their answers were vague.

“More than 425 representatives from federal, state, local jurisdictions, associations, and the vendor community participated in person or via webcast,” FirstNet said in a news release of the meeting at its Reston, Va., headquarters.

“We are pleased with the attendance – both in-person and on the webcast – and the quality of our discussions,” FirstNet acting Executive Director TJ Kennedy said in the release.  “It shows there is a great deal of interest from market participants and the public safety community in establishing the best possible network for public safety.”

During the event, Mr. Kennedy stressed that the authority wants to encourage a myriad of proposals for constructing the nationwide public safety broadband network, as long as the network is financially sustainable and FirstNet’s other objectives are met. “We don’t want to be overly restrictive,” he said. “This leaves it very open for you.” Continue reading

PSCR Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Meeting, June 3-5

unnamed1NQ0XDPZHello all, There are only 8 days left to register online for the 2015 PSCR Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Meeting!!  The Meeting will take place June 3rd through June 5th at the Omni Hotel in San Diego, CA.  Space is limited and we are projecting that we’ll hit our limit; don’t wait, register now!

For more information and to register, visit

Session Topics Include:

  • PSCR R&D Roadmapping Updates
  • Priority, Preemption, and Quality of Service
  • LMR to LTE
  • Analytics for Public Safety
  • Local Control
  • Location Based Services
  • International Standards Updates

In addition, attendees will hear updates from FirstNet, DHS S&T, DHS Office of Emergency Communications, and NIST’s Communications Technology Laboratory. Find the entire Agenda here:  Questions?  Email Darcy Ziegler at

The Implementation of 4G LTE and How It Will Benefit State and Local Responders

The wireless revolution is fully underway in the U.S. (as well as in many other parts of the world). Just a few short years ago, “high-speed” Internet was considered a 5 to 20Mbps (megabits per second) connection delivered through an expensive wired cable infrastructure. That was the first time that a high-definition video could be reliably streamed on a non-commercial Internet connection, and it completely and permanently changed the nature of the Internet. Today, cable providers are offering residential connections many times those speeds, and the 5 to 20Mbps connections that once required an expensive cable connection are now flying through the air in a significant portion of the country.

According to Verizon Wireless — which currently stands as the largest cellular provider of 4G LTE in the U.S. — their 4G LTE coverage encompasses about 98 percent of the U.S. population, while covering a substantial geographic portion of the country as well. This means that essentially every population center in the U.S. has access to a wireless high-speed Internet connection available anytime.

4G LTE connects us like never before, and provides a wealth of opportunities for individuals, companies and, more importantly, emergency service personnel.

Is there really a difference between 4G LTE and 3G?

In a word: yes. 4G LTE represents a substantial technological improvement over the last generation cellular data technology that is collectively known as “3G.” Continue reading

Highlands Ranch Herald Reports: Drone Use on the Way Up in Douglas County

Posted Tuesday, May 5, 2015 1:02 pm

“It allows us to get a 360-degree view of the site,” said Lt. Patrick Richardson of the Castle Rock Fire Department. “It takes pictures and HD video and really allows us to see the whole structure.” This drone is new — only its second time in use. It belongs to South Metro Fire Rescue, but is available to partnering agencies for investigative purposes.

Use of drones for public services is an expanding trend throughout the country, state and Front Range. Law enforcement and first responders are excited about its potential to help investigations — from photographing accident scenes to search-and-rescue operations.

“It’s the smart way to do law enforcement,” said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, whose department recently received its first drone.

However, some citizens and legislators worry about how the new technology will intersect with privacy concerns.

The evolution
Law enforcement has a history of adopting cutting-edge technology, including many items common today, such as automobiles, motorcycles, telephones, radios and cameras.  Until recently, drones were primarily used by the military. They were originally developed during the Cold War but did not see widespread military use until the start of the conflict in Afghanistan in 2001.

But according to Kory Nelson, chair of Douglas County’s subcommittee on unmanned aerial vehicles, today’s technological revolution with drones is a direct result of the combination of the miniaturization and cost-reduction of digital cameras.

Today, wireless video streaming and the increased reliability of aerial platforms for such cameras with gyroscope stability and GPS navigation tools make high-quality videography possible.

“Law enforcement has been using helicopters and planes in the past,” Nelson said. “This is another extension of that technology.”

Interest in the civilian world has grown to a point where there are now retail locations, including one in Castle Rock.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office’s new drone was donated by the National Technical Investigators’ Association, a nonprofit organization that provides additional training to law enforcement and intelligence professionals. The DJI Phantom2 is a hobbyist version of a drone and retails for $3,000.

The sheriff’s office is looking at using the device primarily to assist in search-and-rescue operations and photograph crime and accident scenes.

Other potential uses for drones include disaster and emergency response, HAZMAT accidents and wildfire investigations, law enforcement officials said.

It could also be used for tracking down seniors, children and mental health patients who become lost in large open spaces or parks.

Douglas County Director of Emergency Management Tim Johnson said the county could utilize drones as part of its wildfire management because of their potential to locate smoke and the importance of early detection.

According to Johnson, launching a helicopter for the same purpose costs $1,800 per hour.

Kerry Garrison of Multicopter Warehouse in Castle Rock, is seeing drone use become more common with private citizens and in the business world, not only with public officials.

According to Garrison, officials use them to monitor controlled burns on Pikes Peak, farmers to monitor livestock and builders to inspect roofs for leaks.

Privacy concerns

The biggest question mark about drone use is the privacy issue, which has arisen in the past with other emerging technology.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed whether the government’s use of airplanes and helicopters to observe activities on the ground constituted a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against illegal search and seizure.

In California v. Ciraolo (1986), the Supreme Court ruled that warrantless aerial observation of a person’s backyard did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The defendant, Dante Carlo Ciraolo, grew marijuana plants in his backyard, shielded from view by two fences. After receiving an anonymous tip, the Santa Clara police sent officers in a private airplane to fly over and photograph his house at an altitude of 1,000 feet. Based on an officer’s naked-eye observation, a search warrant was granted.

Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote for the 5-4 majority, saying, “The Fourth Amendment simply does not require the police traveling in the public airways at this altitude to obtain a warrant in order to observe what is visible to the naked eye.”

At an April 30 public meeting in Highlands Ranch about drone use, the sheriff’s office addressed similar concerns.

Diane Schrack, of Highlands Ranch, said she worries about the potential misuse of the technology.

The sheriff’s office “needs to be able to guarantee the community’s trust,” she said.

Spurlock reinforced law enforcement is governed by the Fourth Amendment when using drones.

“I don’t get to fly that thing without a search warrant,” Spurlock said.

It is illegal to fly a drone in a state or national park in Colorado, but few rules exist regarding their use elsewhere in the state. Colorado lawmakers have debated putting limits on drone surveillance this session.

At the April 30 meeting, some residents expressed concerns about not being able to differentiate the sheriff’s office drone from one owned by a private individual. The sheriff’s office said it is not opposed to putting identifying stickers and phone numbers on the unit.

“If we don’t need to deploy it and it sits in its box for a long time, so be it,” Spurlock said. “No harm, no foul.”,187643

Continue reading

Letter from President of the Society of Broadcast Engineers to Chairman Wheeler Re FCC Field Office Closures

It is my honor to serve as President of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Incorporated, (SBE), a Washington, D.C. nonprofit association of broadcast and telecommunications professionals. I am writing you today because SBE’s Board of Directors and its membership of more than 5,000 technical professionals are very much concerned about the current proposal of the Commission’s Managing Director and its Enforcement Bureau Chief to reduce by two-thirds the number and distribution of FCC field offices and to reduce by approximately half the number of Commission staff in those offices. I would like to bring to you the perspective of the broadcast engineers (who have not heretofore been consulted about this proposal) and request, before any final decisions are made, that there be an opportunity for those regulated by the Commission to offer their input.

Historically, broadcast engineers have had a close, positive and constructive working relationship with those field offices and with the very knowledgeable staff that is consistently responsive to the interference issues brought to them in real time. The field offices are already operating at well below efficient levels due to the longer term effects of hiring freezes and attrition in the offices due to retirement of experienced staff. It is SBE’s view that the draconian cuts proposed now will have a substantially adverse effect on compliance in virtually all radio services. It will make the job of SBE’s volunteer frequency coordinators who facilitate sharing of broadcast and cable auxiliary spectrum between and among broadcasters and government agencies exceptionally difficult if not impossible going forward. The plan put forth by the Commission, which was purportedly developed by your contractor without the slightest bit of transparency should be revisited following an opportunity for input by the stakeholders, including SBE. Continue reading

Petition for Rulemaking: Spectrum Interference Dispute Resolution

A University of Colorado Law School clinic petitioned the FCC to launch a rulemaking aimed at developing a “fact-based, transparent, and timely adjudication process for spectrum interference disputes.” Under the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic proposal, a private party would be permitted to file a spectrum interference complaint against another private party directly with the FCC Office of Administrative Law Judges.

The clinic proposed that the FCC set deadlines for resolving complaints and “make resources available as and where needed such as providing support staff, hiring or loaning additional ALJs and a spectrum advisor, or engaging experts and policy advisors to ensure the adjudication process is fact-based and timely.” University of Washington Research Fellow Pierre de Vries also signed the petition. “Under the Commission’s existing rules, an operator that brings a claim asserting that another operator is causing harmful interference cannot be certain whether, when, or how its claim will be resolved,” the petition said.

“Operators caught up in unresolved spectrum disputes are thereby unable to make full economic use of their spectrum and may ultimately suffer economic losses.” Spectrum licenses are “limited and valuable resource,” the petition said. Commission practices “do not guarantee a fact-based, transparent, and timely process to resolve these disputes,” it said. “The Commission is struggling to fulfill its responsibilities and may not have enough resources to devote to these disputes, which means that spectrum rights are not always used in the best interests of the public.” The FCC posted the petition Monday.

DOT Appoints New National EMS Advisory Council Members

I would like to take a moment to share some exciting news: this week, the Secretary of Transportation appointed 25 members of the EMS community to serve a two-year term on the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC).

You can read more about who was appointed and which of the 25 segments of EMS they represent within the Council. Please know that these colleagues, who are committing to volunteer many hours over the next two years, look forward to your input into what issues the Council may consider for recommendations to both the DOT and the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS). Continue reading

NASCIO Met With FirstNet Regarding State Plans and Business Model in Late April

NASCIO’s members met with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) on April 29, 3015, to discuss how states and FirstNet will proceed in planning and deploying a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network.

NASCIO members expressed particular interest in looking at how state plans will be developed and presented to the states, as well as what the business model FirstNet chooses will mean for the sustainability of the network and potential impact to states as partners and customers. Continue reading

190 Scientists Urge UN’s WHO to Adopt More Protective RF Exposure Guidelines

One hundred and ninety scientists from 39 nations today called on the United Nations, its member states, and the World Health Organization to adopt stricter protective guidelines for RF emissions from wireless technologies and for other types of electromagnetic fields (EMF), citing what they say is  increasing evidence of adverse health risks.

“Based upon peer-reviewed, published research, we have serious concerns regarding the ubiquitous and increasing exposure to EMF generated by electric and wireless devices,” said the appeal to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, and UN member states.

“These include-but are not limited to-radiofrequency radiation (RFR) emitting devices, such as cellular and cordless phones and their base stations, Wi-Fi, broadcast antennas, smart meters, and baby monitors as well as electric devices and infra-structures used in the delivery of electricity that generate extremely-low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF EMF).” Continue reading

LA Times Reports: LA Becomes First U.S. City to Enact Quake Safety standards for New Cellphone Towers

In 2008, a 7.9 earthquake left a path of destruction in the Chinese province of Sichuan, leveling whole communities and leaving as many as 88,000 dead. The chaos and confusion was made worse because the temblor disabled more than 2,000 cellphone towers, leaving huge communication gaps that lasted weeks.

On Friday, Los Angeles became the first city in the nation to approve seismic standards for new cellphone towers, part of an effort to strengthen communications infrastructure in preparation for the next big quake.The proposal, passed by the City Council on an 11-0 vote, takes aim at one of the great unknowns in earthquake country: How will mobile technology fare?

There has not been a major quake in California since cellphones, smartphones and WiFi became ubiquitous. When the destructive Northridge quake hit in 1994, landlines still ruled and the Internet wasn’t yet a central part of people’s lives.

L.A. Mayor Garcetti’s earthquake safety plOfficials acknowledged that the move is just the first step in addressing the vulnerabilities of the region’s communication system. But they hope it will begin greater discussion about how to improve it when it is needed most — in the minutes and hours after a devastating quake.

The earthquake in Sichuan was a big concern, said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones, because the region used similar building standards for cellphone towers as the United States.

The Los Angeles plan requires new freestanding cellphone towers to be built to the same seismic standards as public safety facilities. Cellphone towers are currently built only strong enough to not collapse and kill people during a major earthquake. They’re not required to be strong enough to continue working.

“This is about earthquake functionality. It’s about getting us back on our feet,” said Jones, who has served as earthquake science advisor to Mayor Eric Garcetti. The mayor proposed the new cellphone tower standards in a report released in December.

Read more here: