S&T Facebook Live: Innovate S&T–Navigating ways to work and partner with S&T

To keep pace with rapid changes in technology and respond to emerging threats that face our nation, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate wants to connect directly with private sector innovators. We want to work with you to find innovative technology that we can use now or work with you to design technology with our needs in mind. We also need partners in commercializing products for our end users. TO that end, we are excited to announce our new Innovate S&T Facebook Live Conversation series.

This conversation will be a way for you to connect with us on a regular basis. We will talk about how industry can work with us or partner to find or develop scientific and technological solutions that will address homeland security’s most pressing needs. In this series, you will learn about ways to work with us, our programs, and new and upcoming opportunities. We plan to host the series quarterly, so stay turned to S&T’s website and Facebook page for more details.

In December, we will take you through the newly released Industry Guide, which captures S&T’s call to industry to help us solve homeland security challenges and outlines S&T’s partnership goals, research and development priorities, tools and programs, and online resources to help keep you up to date on new opportunities.

Join S&T for a Facebook Live conversation for the second video in our series on Tuesday, December 12 at 1 p.m. EST. For this event, the Public-Private Partnership leadership team will field your questions about the partnership opportunities and areas of focus as laid out in the Industry Guide. Talk directly with the people who can answer your questions. Can’t make it? Send your questions in ahead of time and then watch it later. Follow the conversation using #InnovateS&T on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Andy Seybold Public Safety Advocate, November 30, 2017

FirstNet Coverage and PTT. I hope everyone who was able to take time off for Thanksgiving enjoyed the holiday and I want to thank all the public safety personnel who worked last Thursday so the rest of us could spend time with our families and friends. During our trip east, I was keeping tabs on coverage provided by AT&T where we were traveling and while in several states, I talked with the public safety community about today’s AT&T coverage and what might still be needed. Even though a state such as Arizona or Maine has already opted in to FirstNet, it does not mean the public safety agencies are required to make use of the FirstNet/AT&T broadband network. However, since AT&T has already invested a lot of money in the public safety community, and has allocated more money and resources to bring FirstNet up and operational as soon as possible, AT&T would like to have as many public safety customers onboard as possible.

In Arizona where the overwhelming perception within the public safety community was that AT&T’s coverage is not as good as at least one other network operator’s coverage, those who have acquired AT&T devices and done some testing have found that AT&T coverage has increased since they last looked at it. Granted, there are still some spots that need to be covered but several public safety agencies have stated that the FirstNet/AT&T coverage in their jurisdiction is sufficient to join FirstNet and then work with AT&T, federal grants, or in some cases even self-funding additional coverage that AT&T will then include in its overall footprint. There are still some major differences in coverage in some areas, but while it is not possible to see the official FirstNet/AT&T coverage maps over the build-out period, reviewing coverage maps on FirstNet.com shows that most of the areas of concern will be covered.

One thing I have found confusing not only for FirstNet/AT&T coverage but for the other nationwide networks as well, is that it is difficult to identify where a network operator owns and runs its own network and where it has contracted with rural carriers to provide coverage to their subscribers. This is important to know because some rural carriers have not yet rolled out LTE and are offering only 2G and 3G, and we are not privy to their build-out plans. I believe that because of the increased push for rural coverage for first responders, as well as the need to provide coverage for rural businesses and citizens, we will see a renewed effort by all of the carriers. As I have mentioned before, we are having success with county and tribal governments that know they want and need coverage beyond what FirstNet/AT&T will bring to their rural areas. Read the Entire Blog Here Continue reading

Vermont Announces It Will Opt into FirstNet

Vermont today became the 34th state or territory to announce that it will opt into the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), despite concerns about whether such a decision represents the best option for the state. “It is important that Vermont’s first responders have the best service and access to an interoperable network that is expected to advance and adapt with new technology through the next 25 years,” said Gov. Phil Scott (R.). “Vermont faced the choice of building its own network or using the federal solution. After thoroughly considering the technological, financial and operational aspects of both options, I believe the federal plan will more quickly and sustainably provide our public safety community with the network it needs to continue its valuable service to Vermont.”

A news release noted that the decision announced today “follows the recommendation [the governor] received earlier this month from Vermont’s Public Safety Broadband Network Commission (PSBC), which recommended Vermont opt-in to the federal plan [TR Daily, Nov. 20]. The commission considered the federal plan and a proposal from an alternative vendor submitted through an RFP process. In its recommendation, the PSBC focused on service, coverage and risks of both options.”

“Today’s opt-in decision means that FirstNet/AT&T can begin work immediately in Vermont,” said PSBC Chair Terry LaValley, who is the state’s FirstNet single point of contact (SPOC). “Due to the all-bands approach by AT&T, first responders will have immediate access to all bandwidth owned and operated by AT&T in Vermont, including priority calling. AT&T will also use funds allocated to FirstNet to increase the number of cell sites in Vermont within the next five years — many in areas where first responders currently lack good coverage.”

Vermont is the 32nd state, in addition to two territories, to decide to have AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, build its radio access network (RAN). It is the eighth state to opt in after issuing a request for proposals (RFP). Governors have until Dec. 28 to make opt-out decisions.

A draft spectrum manager lease agreement (SMLA) delivered to Vermont by FirstNet said that the state could have to pay up to $173 million if it opted out and then terminated the lease with the federal government to use the FirstNet spectrum.

But at a Nov. 1 House hearing, FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth stressed that FirstNet will work to “minimize” the impact on states and first responders of opt-out states that fail to fulfill the terms of SMLAs. He also said that the agreements provided to states are only “working draft” documents.

The news release issued by Gov. Scott’s office today noted that “Televate, a technical consultant hired by the PSBC to evaluate the plan, recommended that Vermont opt-in. An independent review by the Coeur Business Group, which was contracted by the Agency of Digital Services to analyze the opt-in/opt-out options, also recommended opt-in. An evaluation of the financial risks conducted by the State Treasurer’s Office expressed significant concerns regarding the financial consequences to the state and its future borrowing capacity in the event of an election to opt-out.”

“Governor Scott’s decision is a win-win-win for the state, its public safety community, and everyone who lives, works or visits in Vermont,” said FirstNet board member and former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas. “The FirstNet Network will modernize our emergency communications infrastructure, help create jobs in the Green Mountain State and ensure that our first responders have the best tools and technologies to keep our communities safe and secure.”

“I’d like to thank Governor Scott for his leadership and commitment to public safety, which is clear and unwavering. Opting in to FirstNet puts Vermont’s first responders on the cutting edge of innovative communications, helping them operate faster, safer and more effectively when lives are on the line,” said Patricia Jacobs, president of AT&T New England. “Vermont’s first responders, residents and visitors, alike, will all benefit from the FirstNet solution, which won’t cost the state a dime to build, operate or maintain.”

But Stephen Whitaker, a Vermont resident and open government advocate who is a party in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking FirstNet records (TR Daily, Oct. 6), criticized Gov. Scott’s decision today.

“I just think it was a preemptive strike to try to defuse the legislative authority,” he told TR Daily. “I think it was a dirty trick.”

He noted that a Vermont legislative counsel said in a recent memo to a state legislator that state lawmakers have a right to review the governor’s decision on whether to opt in or out of FirstNet (TR Daily, Nov. 27). He also said that a decision should be delayed until FirstNet, AT&T, and others respond to questions posed by Rep. Peter Welch (D., Vt.) in the wake of the recent House hearing, which they are expected to do next week.

In prepared remarks for a meeting on FirstNet today of the Vermont House Energy and Technology Committee, Mr. Whitaker complained that the FirstNet review process by the state, like FirstNet’s and AT&T’s processes nationally, had been secretive.

“The absurdity of this game of whack-a-mole with secrets when we are evaluating life and death communications seems to have no end absent legislative action,” he said. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Maine State Police Praise Drone Technology

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) reports, “The value of Maine State Police drones came into sharp focus in the aftermath of a silo explosion that injured three people last month.” Law enforcement used one of their new drones to “check for victims after an explosion and sulfur leak made it unsafe for emergency personnel to go inside the 86-foot structure, State Police Sgt. Darren Foster told reporters Tuesday.” Foster said, “This is something we never would’ve anticipated when we started the program. But because of the technology, it was a no brainer for us.” The state police purchased three drones this fall, and their “greatest use so far has been at crash and crime scenes as opposed to search and rescue operations like the one in October in Detroit, Maine.”

Read more here: http://www.chron.com/news/article/Maine-State-Police-to-demonstrate-new-drones-12387762.php

Supreme Court Grapples With Treatment of Cell-Site Location Data

The Supreme Court today grappled with whether it should require law enforcement agents to get a warrant based on probable cause before obtaining historical cell-site location information (CSLI) or whether the government should continue to simply be able to get such data by meeting a lower standard.

The justices heard oral arguments this morning in the latest case that centers on whether technological advances necessitate a change to Fourth Amendment legal principles to protect the privacy of Americans.

In their questioning and comments, some justices appeared willing to require a warrant based on probable cause for CSLI, while others seemed more skeptical of the arguments of the petitioner.

The current case, “Carpenter v. United States” (case 16-402), centers on whether the government violated the Fourth Amendment when law enforcement authorities obtained more than four months of CSLI for serial robbery suspects in the Detroit area. Authorities obtained records for 127 days for suspect Timothy Carpenter that revealed 12,898 location data points.

After being convicted, Mr. Carpenter appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Cincinnati). That court ruled 2-1 that a warrant is not needed under the Fourth Amendment for the government to obtain access to historical CSLI. Continue reading

APCO International Issues Call to Action

APCO states, “The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has decided not to update the way 9-1-1 professionals are classified in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC).  We’ve consulted with a top law firm in DC and decided that pursuing a remedy in court is not a viable option.  However, this decision is within OMB’s discretion, which means OMB, or even President Trump, has the power to correct it.  APCO will continue fighting this.  Today, I’m asking each of you to use social media to retweet the following that “@APCOintl” has tweeted.”

Fed agency @OMBpress staff has failed the nation’s 9-1-1 professionals, deciding 9-1-1 call takers & dispatchers aren’t “protective” occupations. @realDonaldTrump @POTUS Please fix this! 9-1-1 professionals save lives. #911ProtectsMe apcointl.org/socinfo

“This will be an uphill battle.  Like you, I’m very disappointed, but we should not allow an incorrect classification in a federal data catalogue to distract us from the bigger picture for increasing respect and recognition for 9-1-1 professionals.”

What OMB’s Decision Means. “The SOC classifies occupations according to the work performed.  For those of us who understand 9-1-1, it’s obvious that 9-1-1 professionals belong in the “Protective Service” group.  In fact, the staff involved with revising the SOC went so far as to tell us that they had no doubt that the work performed by 9-1-1 professionals is protective.  Based on conversations with OMB, we believe OMB staff gave weight to where the work is primarily being performed and decided not to make 9-1-1 professionals part of the “Protective Service” category because they mostly work inside comm centers.  This is not a strict application of the SOC’s organization principles or its current makeup, but nonetheless, this is what OMB decided.

APCO will continue to fight on your behalf at every opportunity.  Thank you for the work you do to protect the public and field responders every day.  Please ask your colleagues, friends, and family to retweet the APCO tweet about this injustice.  We need everyone to help us make the President aware.”

Derek K. Poarch
Executive Director & CEO
APCO International

S&T Facebook Live: Deconstructing SBIR – Shining Light on the Proposal Submission Process

The DHS Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Pre-Solicitation will be posted to FedBizOpps.com soon, and we want to take the opportunity to answer your questions about the SBIR proposal submission process.

DHS uses the SBIR program to fund technology solutions for identified technology needs. We are committed to finding promising small businesses and innovative approaches to help address homeland security needs. SBIR is an excellent opportunity for agile, innovative small businesses to support and advance homeland security, without the need for previous federal contracting experience or knowledge.

If you have 500 employees or less, and are a small business, women-owned small business, or disadvantage small business with we want to work with you.  Not sure what the next step is to participate in SBIR? Join us December 5 at 1 p.m. EST, on our Facebook account for a Facebook Live Tech Talk. Got Innovation? We’ve got answers and potential funding! We hope to see you there.

FCC Rejects Amateur Radio Petition

The Mobility Division of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau today dismissed a petition for rulemaking filed by Thomas Alessi of Stamford, Conn., asking the agency to amend its part 97 rules “to make available to Amateur Extra Class licensees call signs consisting of one letter, followed by two digits, followed by one letter (1xx1 format).” The division added in a letter to Mr. Alessi, “Approximately 15 million call signs are presently available in the sequential call sign system, but it does not include every amateur call sign that has been allocated to the United States.

In 2010, the Commission rejected a suggestion that it make certain additional call signs, including 1xx1 call signs, available to Amateur Extra Class licensees. It concluded that enough call signs already are available for an amateur service licensee to obtain a call sign that he or she finds acceptable. You have not demonstrated any changed circumstances or other reason that would warrant revisiting this decision. Consequently, we dismiss your petition.”

Courtesy TRDaily

Rivada, Macquarie Capital to Pursue Additional Opt-Out States

Rivada Networks LLC and Macquarie Capital said today they would jointly pursue contracts with additional states that might opt out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system and contract to build their own radio access networks (RANs). Colorado recently issued a conditional award to Rivada and Macquarie for an alternative state plan (TR Daily, Nov. 17). The award is conditioned upon Gov. John Hickenlooper (D.) deciding to opt out of FirstNet.

“We are excited about the opportunity to leverage Macquarie Capital’s extensive global expertise as the premier developer of infrastructure assets, for the benefit of opt-out states,” said Rivada Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Declan Ganley. “Macquarie Capital is excited to be at the forefront of developing communications infrastructure projects in the U.S. We see a large opportunity in bringing the benefits of infrastructure financing solutions to telecommunications,” said Michael Turner, senior vice president of Macquarie Capital, which is part of the Macquarie Group Ltd., a global investment banking firm.

Courtesy TRDaily

NENA Expresses Disappointment at OMB Job Classification Decision

The National Emergency Number Association expressed disappointment today that the Office of Management and Budget has decided not to reclassify public safety telecommunicators into the “protective service” job category. OMB announced its decision in a “Federal Register” notice today.

“Like so many in the 9-1-1 community, NENA is disappointed by today’s decision from the Office of Management and Budget not to reclassify ‘Public Safety Telecommunicators’ into the ‘Protective Service’ category,” NENA President Rob McMullen said in a statement. “Although we recognize this has become an emotionally-charged issue for many, NENA has provided substantive, evidence-based comments and advocacy, consistent with OMB’s data-driven approach to this statistical classification. OMB has made it clear that this is the only way to achieve our long-term goal of full reclassification. We hold out hope that future reclassification efforts across the public safety community will adopt an approach that is likewise aligned with the SOCPC [standard occupational classification policy committee]/OMB data requirements. Despite today’s setback, NENA will continue to advocate for an accurate statistical classification for 9-1-1 professionals to support critical research into the mental and physical impacts of 9-1-1 jobs, which differ substantially from those encountered by other non-public-safety ‘dispatcher’ professions.” Continue reading