The public safety community is in a period of great transition. Over the next 20 years, technology advancements will enable data, video, and eventually voice communications to migrate from disparate Land Mobile Radio (LMR) networks to a nationwide Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadband network, the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). Emerging technologies within this new infrastructure present opportunities and challenges for public safety, and the process of modernizing responder communications requires significant coordination and planning. To facilitate the transition from LMR to LTE, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program initiated a research and development (R&D) planning process to determine what technology investments are of highest priority to the public safety community.
The 2017 Public Safety Enhanced User Interface R&D Roadmap summarizes the results of PSCR’s Public Safety Enhanced User Interface R&D Roadmap. This report is the third of several technology roadmaps that PSCR has developed over the past several years to better inform the investment decisions of R&D organizations supporting the public safety community. This report intends to outline the current state of user interface technologies, forecast the evolution of user interface capabilities and gaps, and identify potential R&D opportunities that would improve public safety’s use of enhanced user interface technologies within operational settings. Upon completion of this roadmap, PSCR intends to identify R&D project ideas that pose the greatest operational benefit to public safety. These opportunities may be considered for inclusion in PSCR’s Innovation Accelerator program, drives R&D through prize challenges, grants, and/or cooperative agreements. Given the scope of technology under consideration and level of effort required to deliver enhanced user interface technologies to public safety, PSCR hopes that these findings and recommendations will educate stakeholders across all levels of government, industry, and academia.
The roadmap was drafted by soliciting input from technology experts, end-users, and researchers across government, public safety, industry, and academia. This cross-disciplinary approach enabled PSCR to evaluate existing R&D efforts, potential partnerships, and future projects against public safety’s unique set of priorities, requirements, and long-term goals.
Roadmap Design Principles: The following principles have guided the process as PSCR created the User Interface Roadmap and past roadmap reports:
- Build a vision of where the public safety community wants to go, determine what technologies are needed to get there, and provide a route for achieving the vision.
- Make R&D decisions based on capability requirements and priorities set by the public safety community.
- Assume that public safety may have to adjust operations to fully realize the benefits of new technologies.
- Leverage ongoing efforts by other partners to develop and implement the roadmap. This approach will allow PSCR to focus resources to complement and not duplicate ongoing efforts.
- Get far enough ahead of the technology development curve to influence commercial R&D and leverage economies of scale.
- Enable public safety to meet generational and public expectations.
- Employ a cross-disciplinary approach to gather input and develop R&D plans for PSCR initiatives.
- Identify R&D project opportunities in light of the evolution of technology capabilities and gaps forecasted by working group participants.
- Last week, FirstNet participated in an after action review of the Harris County, Texas Early Builder Project’s network and application deployment at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas. The 10-day operational period was roundly considered to be a great success and illustrated the benefits of a dedicated public safety broadband network. Public safety officials outlined the benefits of the network and identified other areas for refinement, including more collaboration with the end user community and development of processes and procedures in alignment with an event concept of operations. Representatives from the LA-RICS Program also participated in the discussion and provided a briefing on operations at the Rose Parade.
- FirstNet also met with the Wisconsin Tribal Emergency Management Alliance last week in Wausau, including representatives of the Oneida Tribe, Menominee Tribe, St. Croix Chippewas, and HoChunk Nation, as well as a FEMA liaison and a local county official who works with the Potawatomi Community. The conversation focused on data collection, the FirstNet timeline, tribal consultation, tower location, and environmental considerations.
February 17, 2017–Ligado Networks LLC said that a 428-page report released this week by the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network (NASCTN) on the impacts of LTE signals on GPS receivers validates that the LTE network Ligado wants to deploy can operate without harming the performance of GPS devices. Company representatives said the report completes the record in the FCC’s Ligado proceeding, and they said the agency should move ahead to act on its authorization request.
“Ligado’s very pleased that NASCTN has issued its report on the compatibility of GPS devices with LTE deployed in adjacent bands. We’re looking forward to reviewing fully this comprehensive and extensive collection of data, but our initial review indicates that this data supports the conclusion reached by the major GPS companies over the last 14 months: And that conclusion is that a Ligado network built to the specifications proposed in the pending FCC application can operate alongside GPS devices without harming the performance of GPS,” Valerie Green, Ligado’s executive vice president and chief legal officer, told reporters during a conference call. Continue reading
February 17, 2017–The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International and the Enterprise Wireless Alliance submitted applications for review today of an order and authorization granted to Higher Ground LLC last month. The order by the International and Wireless Telecommunications bureaus and Office of Engineering and Technology authorizes Higher Ground to deploy up to 50,000 mobile satellite earth stations in the 5925-6425 megahertz band.
Last week, the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition asked the FCC to stay the order and authorization granted to Higher Ground pending agency action on its application for review (TRDaily Feb. 10). In its application for review in IBFS file No. SES-LIC-20150616-00357, APCO said it “was unaware of this proceeding until the Order, which did not include the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, was released on delegated authority. Significant harm to public safety communications could result from this grant. Continue reading
February 16, 2017–Comments are due March 20 in Rulemaking 11785 on an American Radio Relay League petition for rulemaking asking the FCC to adopt rules “to implement domestically that portion of the Final Acts of the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (‘WRC-15’) that provided for the international allocation of the band 5351.5 – 5366.5 kHz to the Amateur Radio Service on a secondary basis” (TRDaily, Jan. 12).
February 16, 2017–The public safety community should organize to protect the T-band from reallocation, public safety advocate and wireless industry consultant Andy Seybold said today in his weekly e-mailed commentary.
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 requires the FCC to reallocate and auction public safety spectrum in the T-band by 2021 and relocate incumbents by 2023. Proceeds from the auction can be used to cover the relocation costs of public safety licensees. But the law didn’t say anything about relocating non-public safety licensees.
“As the new administration comes up to speed, committees in Congress are reconfigured, and the deadline for losing the T-band draws closer, circumstances have changed since February of 2012 when the give-back was included in the FirstNet bill,” he said. “Therefore, I think it is time to revisit this issue. I know many Public Safety agencies have already been active in this quest but just like when the spectrum was needed for FirstNet, it took the efforts of Public Safety agencies from all over the country to get the attention needed to make the changes. This is not simply a task for the agencies in the eleven metro areas affected, it is important to all of the Public Safety community to educate or re-educate those who make the laws so they understand that all spectrum is not there simply to be auctioned for broadband video streaming and to offset the national debt.
“I am willing to bet that many in Congress view FirstNet as the only spectrum that will be needed for Public Safety going forward,” Mr. Seybold added. “This is not a fair assumption, at least not for a very long time, if ever. If we lose the T-band, what portion of the Public safety spectrum will be next to go on the auction block?” – Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 16, 2017–NTIA is targeting summer for release of the results of its ongoing multistakeholder process regarding Internet of things security upgradability and patching, Evelyn Remaley, deputy associate NTIA administrator-Office of Policy Analysis and Development, said today at an event organized by the Federal Communications Bar Association. The multistakeholder group considering those issues last met on Jan. 31, and it will continue to meet through the spring, she said, adding, “we hope to hear something significant from them this summer.” Continue reading
February 15, 2017–The Enterprise Wireless Alliance has asked the FCC to provide guidance concerning the T-band. An ex parte filing yesterday in ET docket 08-59 and five other dockets reporting on a meeting with Wireless Telecommunications Bureau staff asked when the agency “might provide guidance regarding the likely future of industrial, business, and commercial licensees operating on 470-512 MHz T-Band spectrum. This spectrum is subject to a highly restrictive freeze in response to the 2012 Spectrum Act, although that legislation addresses only the auctioning of T-Band spectrum ‘currently used by public safety eligibles’ and does not allow auction funds to be used for the relocation of non-public safety systems.”
Now that the FCC has “more than a decade of experience in the rules governing the availability of Sprint-vacated spectrum” in the 800 megahertz band, EWA also “recommended that the FCC review the utilization of that spectrum and determine whether the eligibility reservations specified in FCC Rule Sections 90.615 and 90.617(g) remain valid and in the public interest.”
EWA also asked about the status of a circulating notice of inquiry addressing 900 MHz petitions for rulemaking filed by EWA and pdvWireless, Inc., and M2M Spectrum Networks LLC (TRDaily, Sept. 16, 2016). – Paul Kirby, email@example.com
February 15, 2017–The Government Accountability Office said today that cybersecurity of federal government networks and systems that support critical infrastructure, along with protection of the privacy of personally identifiable information (PII) that is collected and shared by federal government and other entities, remain on the agency’s “high risk” list for 2017. In its latest biennial update to the high-risk list issued today, GAO listed federal cybersecurity and PII protection among a total of 32 areas that are characterized as “government programs with greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or the need for transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges.”
For all of those areas, GAO recommends “perseverance” by the executive branch implementing solutions recommended by GAO, and continued oversight and action by Congress. Neither the federal cybersecurity nor the PII protection issues are new to the GAO list; the security of federal cyber assets first appeared on the GAO list in 1997, the protection of critical cyber infrastructure was included in in 2003, and PII protection debuted on the list in 2015.
GAO said in the latest report that it has made about 2,500 recommendations over the last several years aimed at improving the security of federal systems and information, and that as of October 2016 about 1,000 of those recommendations had not been implemented. It said that improving security of federal systems and information, and protection of critical cyber infrastructure, continue to need “substantive attention.” Continue reading
Congress Has a Problem Called The T-Band!
The T-band is in the 470–512-MHz portion of the radio spectrum and was part of the allocation for UHF TV channels 14-20. However, there was a shortage of land mobile radio (LMR) channels for Public Safety use in many major metropolitan areas. After much political wrangling, the T-band was made available for use by Public Safety and commercial LMR systems in FCC docket 18-261 in 1971. Each of the eleven metro areas was permitted to use some but not all of the TV channels, depending on what was already in service in each area. Since then, Public Safety agencies have made extensive use of this spectrum in these eleven major metro areas (Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Washington DC, and parts of Virginia and Maryland, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/Northwest New Jersey, Philadelphia, and San Francisco/Oakland). Each metro area was assigned one or more TV channels (6 MHz each) for use. However, in the same act that created FirstNet, signed into law in 2012, Congress required Public Safety (but not the commercial systems) to vacate this spectrum by 2022/2023.
At the time the bill that created FirstNet was being drafted, and then in order to get it passed, the bill was folded into the Middle-Class Tax Relief Act of 2012. Many in Congress made it clear they expected Public Safety to “give back” spectrum in exchange for the “D” block. In several of the bills introduced by Congress, various portions of the spectrum were mentioned. The most onerous was one bill that would have required Public Safety to give back all spectrum it occupied from 150 MHz to 470 MHz. This was quashed when the Public Safety Alliance met with some of the staffers and explained that this spectrum was not only allocated to Public Safety but to thousands of other types of radio systems as well.
The final bill that designated the give-back of the T-band was introduced on a Tuesday and passed that same Friday, precluding much discussion or many objections from the Public Safety community. Unfortunately, those who wrote this portion of the bill did not fully understand several things:
1) In addition to Public Safety in some of the cities, commercial LMR systems are also in use. These were not addressed by Congress nor were they required to vacate the spectrum.
2) The T-band allocation is for 1, 2, or 3 channels in each city but not for all of the spectrum, so there are TV channels on either side of the LMR allocations. This makes auctioning this spectrum for broadband use next to impossible and certainly deflates the value of the spectrum.
3) The auction would not be scheduled until 2021 and Public Safety would have to vacate the spectrum within two years. This is not a realistic amount of time to relocate large communications systems from one portion of spectrum to another (assuming there was somewhere else to build these systems). Any Public Safety-grade system takes a while to build and test to ensure that it is, in fact, Public Safety-grade.
4) The NTIA was the agency designated to administer grants for the cost of relocation but there are no guidelines for what costs would be covered and how soon the funds would be available.
5) There appears to have been a misconception in Congress by some that the FirstNet system would be able to accommodate all voice traffic in the T-band, even though at that point in time there were no voice standards for either push-to-talk or off-network communications for LTE. Continue reading