Seattle Times Reports: Drone Company Demos How Blood Air-Drops Will Work in Rwanda

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Drone delivery might be years away in the U.S., but it’s becoming a reality in Rwanda this summer. A San Francisco-based drone delivery company says it’ll start making its first deliveries of blood and medicine in Rwanda in July. Zipline International Inc., backed by tech heavyweights like Sequoia Capital and Google Ventures, demonstrated its technology for journalists last week in an open field in the San Francisco Bay area. In a demo broadcast on Periscope on Friday, a staffer launched a fixed-wing plane weighing just 22 pounds off a launcher that used compressed air.

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Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, April 29, 2016

FirstNet tries to be clear but still there is confusion. This week it comes from the Blog posted on the FirstNet site by the FirstNet Director of Outreach. She said states could now modify their state submissions to FirstNet until the end of September. This immediately lit up my email and phone from people who may or may not be responding to the RFP (none of them will admit to it). This time the issue of concern was something not said as opposed to what was said. In the RFP specifications there is a section where each vendor must place a monetary value on the build-out of each state. These build-outs are based on the FirstNet and state’s current coverage requirements. In some cases there are significant differences between what is covered today by existing LTE broadband networks and what some states want. Some states have even asked for coverage beyond their existing LMR coverage. All of this adds up to additional funds that might be needed to build out a state.

If the state opts out, the value of the state’s build-out as provided by the winning RFP bidder can be withheld from the $6.5 billion FirstNet is to pay the winning vendor. This money is then given to the state that opts out once it has met the opt-out criteria. . So the emails and calls I received went like this: If we do bid, and we set the price for a state, say Kansas, and now Kansas is permitted to change its coverage requirements up to the end of September, how do we make sure the deployment cost we set for the State of Kansas is still accurate when we turn in our proposal four months prior to the new state deadline? Based on a number of these types of inquires, I set out to try to determine whether the extension for the states filing their requirements included the ability to change their coverage requirements. What I learned was that no, while the states can, in fact, update the number of first responders in their state and other FirstNet requirements, they are not permitted to change the coverage requirements for their state that have been included in the RFP. This makes sense and protects potential bidders.

However, there are still some states suffering from delusions of grandeur when it comes to coverage they require from FirstNet. So at least the coverage portion of the RFP will not change. However, a requirement I assumed was included is missing from the RFP. This requirement is that states, counties, and cities can negotiate with the winning bidder to add their own increased coverage to the FirstNet network in their jurisdiction. We know that even with all the work the states and FirstNet have done, many cities and counties have not been consulted regarding coverage they would require from FirstNet in order to want to make use of the network. We have discussed this with many counties and cities and find there is a willingness on their part to fund additional cell sites and inbuilding network coverage. Obviously, this would benefit not only the Public Safety community but also the RFP winner that would be able to make use of the excess spectrum provided by cell sites and inbuilding coverage that was paid for by the jurisdiction and that met the FirstNet and vendor’s criteria for network compatibility.

FirstNet by law is intended to provide a network based on a public/private partnership. In reality it should be at least a three-way partnership between FirstNet (the feds), the winning bidder, and the Public Safety community as represented by the cities, counties, and states that will have to decide whether or not to sign up to use the network. Giving these local entities the ability to pay for and expand their local coverage can only add to the FirstNet coverage and enable the winning vendor to capitalize on and monetize the secondary spectrum usage on the FirstNet network.

While I was working with a team that decided not to bid on the RFP, I spent a lot of time on rural coverage requirements. This included coverage provided by rural carriers and other rural organizations, vehicle-mounted satellite systems as mentioned last week, and with several federal agencies to solve the issue of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV or drone) use during wildland fires. Manned fixed-wing equipment and helicopters do not mix well with UAVs and pilots who are trying to drop water or retardant where it is needed do not have time to try to avoid a UAV providing communications at a major fire or other incident. However, there is a way both piloted vehicles and UAVs can work together in harmony to provide the assistance needed by those on the ground whose task is to contain the fire. I am sure other potential vendors have identified this problem as well. These and other issues all need to be addressed by companies and partnerships planning to submit their proposals by the end of May. Continue reading

Wireless Industry, Pallone Announce Voluntary Network Resiliency Framework

The wireless industry and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today announced that the industry has agreed to a voluntary framework to improve wireless network resiliency before, during, and after disasters and other emergencies.

The Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework is the latest example of the wireless industry agreeing to voluntary actions or standards when faced with regulations or legislative mandates.

A news release on the framework said it was the result of five months of discussions among Mr. Pallone, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, and CTIA. The discussions began after Mr. Pallone introduced legislation (HR 3998) to bolster communications networks during emergencies (TRDaily, Nov. 16, 2015).

“This agreement will save lives during major emergencies like Superstorm Sandy,” said Mr. Pallone.  “I commend CTIA and the FCC for working with me to craft a comprehensive agreement that ensures consumers have access to wireless service during an emergency even if their wireless network goes down.”

“I am pleased that CTIA and the wireless providers created a set of common-sense solutions to improve coordination and network recovery during disasters and emergencies. This Framework will benefit consumers and help limit the impact of future disasters, while avoiding unworkable and unnecessary mandates,” said CTIA President and Chief Executive Officer Meredith Attwell Baker. Continue reading

PSCE Conference To Be Held in Brussels May 18-19,2016

PSCE (Public Safety Communication Europe) is pleased to invite you to the upcoming PSCE Conference, held in Brussels on 18th and 19th May 2016. This is the 14th edition of the PSCE Conferences, which commonly gather around one hundred experts from the public safety community, including end users, researchers, and industry. This PSCE Conference is expected to draw an even broader audience due to the co-located Workshop on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) for PPDR, which will precede the conference, taking place on May 17th.

Be There:

  • 18th – 19th May 2016
  • Hotel Bloom!, Rue Royale 250, Brussels, Belgium

Talk about Key themes:

  • Future communication networks
  • Dynamic information sharing
  • Handling emergencies
  • How Copernicus and Galileo services support crisis management

Meet High-level Speakers from the European Commission (DG Home and DG CNECT)

Participate in the Poster session:

  • A Poster Session will be organised alongside the Conference. If you wish to exhibit, please contact for more information

Learn about New EU Projects:

  • ISITEP dissemination event – during the Conference, PSCE will host a dissemination event for the ISITEP project. The ISITEP (Inter System Interoperability for TETRA-TETRAPOL Networks) project achieved to develop procedures, technology and legal agreements for a cost effective global solution for PPDR interoperability
  • Broadmap project – launched at the beginning of May, the Broadmap project is a one-year project gathering national administrations and focusing on the collection and validation of PPDR organisation’s existing requirements and the establishment of a core set of specifications for mapping the future evolution of EU PPDR radio communications

Register Now:  To register, please fill in this registration form and send it back to

S&T Press Release: DHS, Canadian Partners to Run Cross-Border Emergency Response Exercise

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) today began an experiment to test emergency response capabilities at the second busiest crossing between the U.S. and Canada, the Blue Water Bridge. The fourth in a series of cross-border Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiments (CAUSE) will run from April 26 to 28 along the border of Michigan and Ontario

CAUSE IV will test both the current capabilities and limitations of emergency response technology and protocols across the U.S.-Canada border. The public in the areas of Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario can expect to see the presence of emergency response personnel, equipment and vehicles as they test cross-border broadband and wireless networks, electrocardiogram tracing, live video, information sharing and overall situational awareness over the course of the emergency test scenario. CAUSE IV is a collaborative effort in emergency response between DHS S&T, Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS) and Public Safety Canada, in partnership with various provincial, municipal and non-governmental organizations. The CAUSE series supports the U.S.-Canadian Beyond the Border Action Plan to connect, test and demonstrate emerging operational technologies available between the two countries.

FCC Daily Digest, April 25, 2016

The FCC Daily Digest included the following items of interest:

1) A Public Notice inviting comment on Ligado’s (previously Light Squared’s) request for some modifications to its license application.  Although this PN covers multiple issues, at least one is important to NPSTC-Ligado formally requested to abandon proposed terrestrial use of the 1545-1555 MHz spectrum.  They had informally proposed this before in the test plan, partially in response to NPSTC recommendations.

Click to access DA-16-442A1.pdf

2) FCC issued a separate PN seeking to update the record on Ligado’s/LightSquared’s request that the FCC initiate a rulemaking proceeding to allocate the 1675-1680 MHz band for non-federal terrestrial mobile use on a shared basis with federal users.  This spectrum is currently used by National Weather Service, but the FCC PN points out that those operations are slated to transition to another band.   I Comments are due June 21.

FirstNet Weekly Update to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), April 25, 2016

FirstNet News

Three new staff joined the FirstNet team as Regional Leads.  Lesia Dickson ( is the Acting Region 9 Continental US Lead for FirstNet Consultation.  Prior to assuming this role, Lesia served as Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Texas Public Safety Broadband Program during its first three years.   In Region 4, we have two new leads – Ehrin Ehlert (, who was formerly with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and was also the state’s single point of contact (SPOC), and Chuck Murph (, formerly the Alabama statewide interoperability coordinator (SWIC) and SPOC contact for the state.  With their past experience and heavy involvement in FirstNet’s efforts within their respective states and the region, Lesia, Ehrin and Chuck will be tremendous additions to the work FirstNet does to engage with key stakeholders across the region.

On April 21, FirstNet presented at a standing Washington Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee meeting as part of its 2016 consultation.  The meeting was attended by over 40 participants from the State of Washington, including senior level influencers from the Governor’s Office and influential chiefs from the fire, EMS, and law enforcement agencies.  At the meeting, FirstNet staff presented on the timeline for FirstNet’s implementation in Washington, state plan development, FirstNet’s role once the network has been deployed, and strategic roadmap updates.  The meeting provided a terrific opportunity for FirstNet and representatives from Washington State to engage in a valuable information exchange, which included discussions related to Local Control and opt-in and opt-out scenarios. Continue reading

NTIA Sets Roundtable on Cross-Border Data Flows

As part of the Commerce Department’s Digital Economy agenda, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Commerce’s Economic and Statistics Administration have scheduled a May 9 roundtable discussion on identifying data gaps in measuring the importance of cross-border data flows. It is scheduled to run from 8:30 to noon at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Conference Center, 2 Massachusetts Avenue N.E., in Washington.




FCC Confirms Emission Mask for 800 MHz NPSPAC Channels

The FCC released a report and order this afternoon that confirms that Emission Mask H must be used for digital transmissions in 800 megahertz NPSPAC channels, which the agency said will protect public safety systems from interference.

“The options include (1) requiring all equipment using digital emissions operating in the NPSPAC band to conform to Emission Mask H, as proposed in the NPRM; (2) relying on Emission Mask B, as proposed by PowerTrunk; (3) developing a new emission mask standard that takes into account data throughput and occupied bandwidth, as suggested by PowerTrunk; (4) relying on RPC [regional planning committees] discretion to manage adjacent channel interference, as proposed by PowerTrunk; or (5) using some other approach, such as relying on ACP [adjacent channel power] limits, as noted in the NPRM,” the FCC said in the order, which was adopted in PS docket 13-209. “For the reasons discussed below, we retain the Emission Mask H requirement as proposed in the NPRM. Accordingly, we modify Section 90.210 to more explicitly provide that (1) Emission Mask B applies to analog-modulated transmitters equipped with an audio low pass filter and (2) Emission Mask H applies to digitally modulated transmitters and to analog-modulated transmitters lacking an audio low pass filter.”

“We also take steps to enhance public safety system interoperability in the VHF, UHF and 800 MHz bands by specifying analog FM as the standard emission for use on all interoperability channels in these bands,” the FCC said in the order. “In so doing we lessen the possibility that first responders will encounter harmful interference in the NPSPAC band and provide certainty to manufacturers concerning the capabilities required of radios used for interoperable communications.”

In a 2013 notice of proposed rulemaking, the FCC proposed to require that digital technologies, including but not limited to terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA) technologies, comply with Emission Mask H when operating in 800 MHz band NPSPAC channels (TRDaily, Aug. 27, 2013). The NPRM was adopted in response to a petition for rulemaking filed by Harris Corp.

The FCC received mixed views on the NPRM, although some key public safety and industry players endorsed the Emission Mask H proposal (TRDaily, Nov. 13, 2013). Continue reading

NPSTC Fires Back at Consulting Firm

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council has submitted an ex parte filing firing back at recent submission in the FCC’s 4.9 gigahertz band docket. In the earlier filing (TRDaily, March 14), Presidential Partners Consulting said that a 4.9 GHz band proposal submitted by NPSTC “is flawed in that the process to create regional plans is slow and at many times ineffective in maximizing use and it drives [sic] to carve up the spectrum among the NPSTC participants. The simple fact remains that if public safety had a high demand and need for this spectrum they would have found ways to deploy it.”

Instead, the firm said, the FCC should pursue a course where chip sets would include the 4.9 GHz band, Band Class 14 overseen by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), and commercial cellular frequencies.

“In summary, NPSTC opposes a number of the claims and recommendations made by Presidential Partners Consulting, as addressed above,” NPSTC said in its filing yesterday in WP docket 07-100, PS docket 06-229, and WT docket 06-150.  “PPC misrepresents public safety’s use of the 4.9 GHz spectrum. There is ample evidence in the record of public safety use in the 4.9 GHz band. Furthermore, PPC’s criticism of NPSTC recommendations ignores the open and inclusive process NPSTC used.”

NPSTC added that it “opposes any recommendation to open the 4.9 GHz band to consumer use through commercial networks or unlicensed operations, as PPC apparently supports. Such use would further erode public safety confidence in the band, counteracting the recommended addition of more rigorous frequency coordination as recommended by NPSTC.” —Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily