Hurricane-Related Cell Outages Decrease

The FCC reported today that as of 11 a.m. this morning, 2.7% of cell sites were out of service as a result of Hurricane Michael in the 110-county impacted area of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, down from 3.2% yesterday. The totals for each state were 8.0% in Florida, 0.1% in Georgia, and 0.1% in Alabama.

But in Bay County, Fla., which includes Mexico Beach, near where the hurricane made landfall on Oct. 10, 47.0% of cell sites remained down today. Gulf County was second at 34.8%.

Today’s FCC Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) report also said that no public safety answering points (PSAPs) were reported down this morning and two had calls being rerouted with ALI (automatic location identification).

As for cable and wireline system outages, 103,811 subscribers had no service in Florida, 38,693 had no service in Georgia, and 18 had no service in Alabama, according to the report. Continue reading

NG911 Institute Board of Directors

Members of the Next Generation 911 Institute have reelected Joe Marx of AT&T, Inc., as chair and elected April Heinze of INdigital as vice chair. Also reelected were Angel Arocho of Comcast Corp., Mary Boyd of West Safety Services, and Chris Freeman of the Barren-Metcalfe Emergency Communications Center.  Eric Hagerson of T-Mobile US, Inc., was newly elected to the board.

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Grants EAS/WEA Test Waiver

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released an order today in PS dockets 15-94 and 15-91 granting Routt County, Colo., a limited waiver of the agency’s wireless emergency alert/Emergency Alert System rules to allow a joint WEA/EAS test on Oct. 24 at 8:30 a.m. Mountain Time.

Courtesy TRDaily

Groups Press FCC to Modify 800 MHz Band Item

Part 90 frequency coordinators are urging the FCC to adopt a Land Mobile Communications Council proposal in the draft 800 megahertz band item that the agency plans to consider at its Oct. 23 meeting (TR Daily, Oct. 16). In an ex parte filing in WP docket 16-261, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, the Enterprise Wireless Alliance, Forest Industries Telecommunications, and the Utilities Technology Council noted that in the draft order, “the Commission was declining to adopt the Land Mobile Communications Council (‘LMCC’) recommendation to use F(50,50) curves to assess both coverage and interference contours for 800 MHz interstitial channel assignments.” They urged the FCC to adopt that proposal.

Courtesy TRDaily

Snapshot: Public Safety Agencies Pilot AI to Aid in First Response

Snapshot: Public Safety Agencies Pilot Artificial Intelligence to Aid in First Response

10/16/2018 09:05 AM EDT

Imagine a first responder answering the call to a natural disaster, a house fire, or an active shooter incident where there may be multiple injuries and unknown casualties. The information the responder needs to fulfill the mission is immeasurable. When you also consider the volume of data they receive from other responders, dispatch, command centers, victims, and onlookers while receiving and relaying information to medical personnel, it becomes clear that responders have to synthesize a large amount of life-saving information in a short amount of time. This can lead to information overload.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T)’s Next Generation First Responder Apex program (NGFR) partnered with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to address this capability gap and develop the Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and Synthesis (AUDREY). AUDREY is a state-of-the-art human-like reasoning system designed to assist first responders in synthesizing high-level data while at the scene of an emergency. DHS S&T began the AUDREY software pilot at the Multi Agency Communications Center (MACC) in Grant County, Washington, in the fall of 2017 and will pilot AUDREY at the Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services in Ontario, Canada in early 2019.

Similar to the voice-activated device on a smartphone or the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant available to the public, AUDREY is personalized to the individual responder and has the capability to recognize first responder specialized language. However, unlike the artificial general intelligence (AGI) systems available to the general public, AUDREY uses bio-inspired neural symbolic processing for cognitive reasoning. In other words, AUDREY leverages human intelligence and collects data to achieve better machine intelligence and provides insight that first responders may not have in the crucial moments of an emergency.

“AUDREY learns, analyzes, reasons, predicts, collaborates, and provides data fusion to provide direction for first responders on the scene,” said Dr. Edward Chow, manager of the Civil Programs Office at NASA JPL. “In other words, AUDREY has the potential to serve as a sort of guardian angel for first responders while responding to an emergency.”

As demonstrated in Next Generation First Responder video released last spring, AUDREY provides situational awareness during an incident, connecting first responders across different agencies with vital information right at their fingertips.

“AUDREY provides the kind of information at an incident that may not be readily apparent to even the most seasoned first responder,” said S&T’s NGFR Director John Merrill, DHS S&T AUDREY program manager.

“AUDREY’s purpose is to aid responders in taking all of the pertinent data related to an incident and making quicker decisions. In turn, this not only helps first responders save lives, but also keeps them better protected,” Merrill concluded.

At the MACC in Grant County, Washington, Technical Services Manager Dean Hane anticipates AUDREY will aid in caller and data information gathering as well as serve as a tool in synthesizing caller information from text-to-911.

“The major priority for dispatchers across the nation is to get a call out faster and more accurately to our first responders out in the field,” said Hane. “We believe AUDREY will be a tool we’ll use to gather information and data collection processes and to speed up our response.”

With the onset of text-to-911 services available in many dispatch centers across the country, many in the industry believe the future of 911 dispatch will be phone applications developed for the public to report more detailed information from an incident. Currently, the MACC offers the text-to-911 service and anticipates that evolution.

“Certainly, there will be a variety of unanticipated standards and data that will be collected from that kind of technology that we would need a tool like AUDREY to synthesize,” said Hane. “AUDREY will be that peek into the future – and we’re excited that we’ll be at the onset to crack open that door.”

Hane explained that while many are excited about the prospect of AUDREY’s ability to streamline dispatch, some are apprehensive that AGI may eventually take their jobs. However, Hanes assures, “Dispatchers don’t need to worry about AGI taking their jobs.

“Nothing can ever take the place of human intuition. There are instances where a caller may disguise their distress, in the example of domestic abuse. Trained dispatchers are able to distinguish cues that AI cannot,” Merrill stressed.

“AUDREY was created to learn with first responders and supplement their decisions while out in the field. There is no replacement for human intuition,” said Merrill.

Currently, the MACC is in the midst of gathering data to input into the AUDREY platform for their demonstration in the fall.

For Doug Socha, chief paramedic with the Hastings-Quinte Paramedic services, piloting a system like AUDREY seems like the natural next step in next generation first responder technology.

“Our services have been very progressive in advancing technology and trying to support paramedics in providing the best patient outcome possible. We’re always looking to try to advance tools and give paramedics the ability to do their job in those highly critical situations,” said Socha.

Socha was introduced to AUDREY through the established partnership between DHS S&T and Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) during the CAUSE IV interoperability experiment.

“When I first heard about AUDREY’s capabilities to support responders with instant decision-making, I saw an opportunity where this type of AI can benefit paramedics from a health care system point of view,” said Socha. “The ability to have paramedics check on medication or relay information to hospitals that could save them time, can help paramedics focus more on patient care.”

Socha explained that often, paramedics’ ability to treat patients on the spot is limited because they must call and consult physicians before taking the next steps in treatment.

“We lose crucial seconds when we could be saving lives,” said Socha.

Grant County’s Multi Agency Communication Center (MACC) will provide feedback and demo AUDREY’s integration with first responder communications by late fall 2018. The AUDREY pilot with Hastings-Quinte paramedic services will begin in early 2019.

Topics: First Responders, Science and Technology
Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, data, First Responder, News, R&D, Science and Technology

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Next Generation First Responder

 

Sprint Seeks Waiver of Rules for IP CTS 911 Calls

Sprint Corp. has asked the FCC for a waiver of its rules governing IP (Internet protocol) captioned telephone service (IP CTS), similar to the relief requested by fellow IP CTS providers CaptionCall LLC and Hamilton Relay.

In its petition for waiver filed yesterday in CG dockets 13-24 and 13-123, Sprint said that it is in compliance with the requirements in section 64.605(a)(2)(iv) of the FCC rules to deliver “at the outset of the outbound leg of an emergency call: the name of the relay user and location of the emergency as well the name of the relay provider, the CA’s callback number and the CA’s identification number.” However, it said, “Sprint’s experience has shown that adherence to the rules actually slows down the delivery of emergency calls and results in the delivery of unnecessary information.” Continue reading

UTC Seeks Reconsideration, Clarification of 900 MHz Band Freeze

The Utilities Technology Council has filed a petition for reconsideration or clarification of a September public notice in which the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announced an immediate, temporary freeze on the filing of applications for new or expanded use of part 90 900 megahertz band channels (TR Daily, Sept. 13).

In its petition in WT docket 17-200, UTC said it “requests that the Commission reconsider or clarify the Bureau’s decision so that the 900 MHz freeze would only apply to applications by entities that are not affiliated with current licensees in the 900 MHz band (i.e., non-incumbents). This would effectively serve the purpose of the freeze by preserving the 900 MHz band and limiting the potential for speculative applications while the Commission considers possible rule changes affecting the band. At the same time, it would enable utilities and other incumbent licensees with legitimate needs for the spectrum to continue to upgrade their networks, thereby ensuring reliable communications and avoiding stranded investment that is currently being made in the band.

“In this regard, it is important to note that proponents of realigning the 900 MHz band likewise suggested in their petition to limit the freeze to apply only to non-incumbents and that none of the comments that were filed in response to the petition supported expanding the freeze more broadly to incumbents,” UTC added. “Finally, it would be consistent with Commission precedent and would serve the public interest, as well as avoid causing undue burden and overbroad application to incumbents in the band.” —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Ericsson Urges Room for Possible Licensed 6 GHz Band Use

Ericsson said in an ex parte filing in ET docket 18-295 that the FCC should “keep the door open for the possibility of licensed mobile use of spectrum in the upper portion of the 6 GHz band.”

In the filing, which discusses a notice of proposed rulemaking that the agency plans to consider at its Oct. 23 meeting (see separate story), Ericsson said that the draft NPRM suggests that only the unlicensed use will be introduced across the entire band. Ericsson is a firm supporter of unlicensed use of spectrum and produces many products like carrier-grade Wi-Fi and License Assisted Access (LAA). In our comments to the Notice of Inquiry in this docket, we expressed support for the introduction of unlicensed services, on a technology neutral basis, into the 5.925-6.425 GHz band, so long as such services do not cause harmful interference to fixed-service incumbents. That being said, the mobile industry also requires large blocks of licensed spectrum to support 5G — particularly in mid-bands.” Continue reading

NCTA Asks FCC to ‘Take a Fresh Look’ at 5.9 GHz Band

NCTA asked the FCC today “to take a fresh look” at use of the 5.9 gigahertz band, arguing that the FCC’s allocation of the spectrum for dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) operations “has failed.”

“The 5.9 GHz band is the best opportunity to fill the accelerating need for mid-band unlicensed spectrum. Its position immediately adjacent to the world’s most important existing unlicensed band means that the country can bring it into use quickly and produce the wide channels needed for the next generation of Wi-Fi. And because there are very few incumbent deployments in the band, which today is saddled with over-regulatory, technology-specific rules, the Commission would not have to impose extensive co-existence regulations that could limit deployments and utility,” NCTA said in its filing in ET docket 13-49. “Furthermore, because of these benefits, deregulating the 5.9 GHz band by opening it for unlicensed use would also be an essential step in advancing 5G and the next generation of broadband. The time has come to recognize that Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) technologies’ use of this band has failed, and that the country can no longer afford to hold 75 megahertz of optimal spectrum in reserve with the hope that the next twenty years will somehow be different than the last two decades of stagnation. Continue reading

Pai Criticizes Wireless Carriers’ Hurricane Restoration Efforts

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today criticized efforts by wireless carriers to restore service in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael and said he has asked the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to investigate the situation.

“Even though efforts to restore communications services have been going well in most of the areas affected by Hurricane Michael, the slow progress in restoring wireless service in areas close to where the hurricane made landfall is completely unacceptable,” Mr. Pai said in a statement. “While the FCC has been in regular contact with companies serving the affected areas, I’m concerned that their actions on the ground aren’t matching the urgency that we have conveyed during those conversations. I am therefore joining [Florida] Governor [Rick] Scott [R.] in calling on wireless carriers to waive the bills of Floridians in these affected areas for the month of October and to allow them to change carriers without penalty. These carriers also need to immediately disclose publicly to Floridians how they will quickly restore service. In addition, I have directed our Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau to promptly initiate an investigation into this matter.” Continue reading