Drone Prize Challenge Offered by PSCR; Apply by Jan 29

PSCR’s Open Innovation team launched a new Prize Challenge for the Unmanned Aerial Systems or drones solver community.  The Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Program of the National Institute for Standards & Technology (NIST) is conducting The Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight and Payload Challenge.  This design and engineering challenge is open to academia, solvers and developers across the country and will award cash prizes up to $320,000 to the Top challenge participants who build a cost-effective, hardware prototype of a UAS (unmanned aerial systems) that increases flight time and payload for public safety operations.

One of the barriers for UAS used in a public safety realm is payload versus flight time. Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAS provide many different mission capabilities, but their flight time is limited. The payload capacity, energy source and flight time are linked through design trade-offs that can be optimized for efficiency and flexibility. This challenge is designed to keep the UAS and its payload airborne for the longest time possible to support first responders’ communication technology on the ground while they conduct their search. The advancement of UAS research will help search and rescue operations support payloads for wireless communications or other life-saving goods to save lives.

Join this exciting UAS competition using your ingenuity and hardware design expertise to help America’s first responders! You’ll showcase your UAS and flight skills with paid travel to the NIST Robotics Lab and the 2018 PSCR Stakeholder conference, where you will demonstrate your prototype and network with 500+ attendees! NO entry fee! Go to  challenge.gov for details about “The Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight and Payload Challenge” and ENTER TODAY or by January 29, 2018.

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, January 18, 2018

Interoperability:  After publishing last week’s Advocate, I received some emails and questions about the whole interoperability issue and why it is a problem for public safety and not for commercial cellular customers. The public safety community has been providing answers about interoperability for years to all who would listen and some in Congress seemed to “get it” when the bill that contained authorization for FirstNet was approved, but a number of them still do not understand the need.

It has always been difficult for those whose only exposure to voice, text, and data communications has been through their use of a cell phone and/or tablet. Commercial networks function like their wired predecessors for voice. If you want to talk to someone, you dial a 10-digit number, the phone on the other end rings, and either the person you want to talk to answers the call or it goes to voice mail. If you want to talk to multiple people at once, you need to establish a conference call, which takes even longer to set up. The advent of 2G, 3G, and 4G wireless broadband systems saw the addition of text, data, and video services but here again, you text someone by typing in their phone number and the text you want to send. If you want to watch a video, you go to a website, select a file, and it starts streaming to your phone. If you want to send a picture or video, you can send it to one person at a time if you know their phone numbers.

If this is your starting point for understanding wireless communications systems, it is no wonder you are confused about public safety’s claim that they have been unable to communicate with neighboring agencies or even between fire and police in the same city. If you can simply dial anyone, anywhere, on any network, why should public safety have this problem? The answer is a combination of the effect of spectrum allocations by government and the fact that public safety systems are designed to cover specific geographic areas. Read the Entire Post Here

Discovery Patterns Weekly News Summary Follows:

LMR licensing activity in the US reaches record-low levels in 2017, according to FCC databaseUrgent Communications
Jan 18 02:40 Overall, the FCC has approved 13,430 applications that were submitted in 2017 for new and modified licenses in the public-safety and business-industrial arenas, based on ULS data available on Wednesday. Even if all 263 of the pending 2017 license applications were granted, the number of 2017 …

ANALYSIS: Expect much smaller money in the 600 MHz auctionCartt.ca
Jan 17 18:55 AT&T spent $1 billion on 600 MHz spectrum, but just announced they are selling it. In fairness, this may not mean that AT&T doesn’t want low band spectrum. They won the bid to supply First Net with a public safety broadband network and that lets them use 20 MHz of First Net’s 700 MHz spectrum when …

Cellphone jamming system tested at Maryland prisonWATE 6 On Your Side
Jan 17 16:40 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has signaled willingness to work on the issue, telling members of Congress he would put together a working group to address “the proliferation of contraband wireless devices in prisons and the potentially devastating implications for public safety.” Williams said Justice, which …

FCC chairman: Hawaii didn’t have ‘reasonable’ safeguardsGkMen
Jan 17 07:40 The system has come under growing scrutiny in recent months, with public safety officials complaining that it requires upgrades on several fronts. Congresswoman Gabbard is with us now. Catt said. “So, there wasn’t much we could do”. Outside of the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, Gabbard said …

FCC chairman plans to boost broadband in rural AmericaAgri-Pulse
Jan 17 00:51 However, in a briefing last week, Grace Kho, the White House’s special assistant for technology, telecommunications and cybersecurity, cautioned that expanding rural broadband will take time. This is not going to be a sprint. This will be a long time of — a long process of figuring out how to exactly move …

DHS S&T and Israeli Partners Call for Proposals on Advanced First Responder TechnologiesNewswise
Jan 16 16:40 Small businesses who were awarded contracts through this partnership are working on promising cutting-edge technologies such as unmanned search and rescue systems, public safety off-network broadband communications, and a separate autonomous drone-based search & rescue solution to help …

FirstNet’s Schrier on New Public-Safety Meetings, App Interoperability and PrivacyRadioResource Media Group
Jan 16 13:53 AT&T executives will also participate in the meetings. They are not presenting or selling but determining what public safety’s needs are, he said. We’re going to listen to what their apps are today and what they need. AT&T will be at the table to ask questions. Schrier said most applications will be …

Public Safety Network: A Boon for Tower Operators in 2018Zacks.com
Jan 11 08:40 Notably, in March 2017, AT&T was selected by FirstNet to build and manage the first nationwide broadband network dedicated to America’s police, firefighters and emergency medical services. As part of the 25-year contract, FirstNet will provide AT&T with a swath of 20 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz …

FCC Proposes $500M for Rural BroadbandLight Reading
Jan 18 06:30 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to reform the universal service fund.

FCC pushes for rural broadbandBrownfield
Jan 18 05:00 The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is calling for more high-speed broadband in rural areas. Ajit Pai says there needs to be more internet access in sparsely populated areas to close the digital divide. His order would provide more than $500 million to cooperatives and small rural carriers to build more online infrastructure, create new rules to prevent abuse and reform’s the FCC’s high-cost program. Continue reading FCC pushes for rural broadband at Brownfield Ag News.

Lawmakers Blast FCC’s Mobile Broadband ProposalMediaPost Communications
Jan 17 17:00 “Without adequate service deployment and accurate data collection for both fixed and mobile, our rural and national economy will suffer,” the lawmakers add. “Every American who has ever had to ask ‘Can you hear me now?’ while on their cell phone or has had to wait for buffering when streaming a …

Wireless Narrowband Communication in the Environment of the Internet of Things and Machine toSmart Grid Demand Response
Jan 17 03:52 Salzburg Research invites to a workshop on 08.02.2018 on Wireless Narrowband Communication in the Environment of the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine Communication. Digital transformation is finding its way into almost all areas of life and industry. The development of the Internet of

Telstra adds narrowband capability to Australia’s leading IoT networkTicker In
Jan 17 00:35 Telstra announced a major step forward in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) in Australia with the successful deployment of Narrowband technology in its IoT Network. Telstra now offers Narrowband coverage in major Australian cities and many regional towns. This is in addition to the

Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro joins lawsuit against the FCC over net neutrality rollbackPittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jan 16 23:55 In the wake of a controversial move by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the broadband industry, a group of 22 attorneys general including Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania has sued the commission for its repeal of net neutrality rules. The group filed a petition for review in the …

FirstNet’s availability should ‘raise all boats,’ drive public-safety innovation, competitionUrgent Communications
Jan 16 18:40 At best, by virtue of offering a new competitive choice for public-safety communications, it will be an engine for the continued development and implementation of reliable, state-of-the-art communications technologies for first responders. The availability of FirstNet in the marketplace will raise all boats and …

FCC Attempts to Weaken Broadband StandardNo Jitter via Business Communications Review
Jan 11 06:30 By Martha Buyer Rather than hold providers accountable, the Commission wants to lower speed requirements and loosen definition of competition.

The Coming Fiber Construction BoomLight Reading
Jan 11 02:35 “Americans are frustrated with the slow pace of broadband deployment” is a sad clich. According to FCC data for 2016 (the most recent available), 21% of census blocks — home to 10% of the US population — have no provider offering fixed broadband service at the Commission’s 25/3 Mbits/s standard, …

Have Your Voice Heard: Why You Should Participate in the SAFECOM Nationwide Survey

Message to Public Safety from OEC:  With great thanks to Chief Gerald Reardon, Eddie Reyes, Rosario Acevedo, Captain Chris Lombard, and Sherriff Paul Fitzgerald, a great team here at OEC, and the support of our friends at DHS Science and Technology, we are sharing a video to help you promote the SAFECOM Nationwide Survey. The theme is “Have Your Voice Heard.”.The video provides a great introduction to the survey and addresses the issue of “no one likes surveys” and explains why completing this survey is so very important for public safety. Please take a moment to view the video here and please share the link far and wide with fellow colleagues and stakeholders.  Full Web Address to Video: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/sns


9 News Reports: Sending an emergency alert to your phone?

Why many local officials and law enforcement personnel wish you’d sign up for more emergency alerts on your cell phone.

 After a search of a Westminster neighborhood, police arrested a man who rammed one of their squad cars. This started around 10 Thursday morning. Police tried to contact 35-year-old Eric Winden. But he took off – drove through a fence narrowly missed an officer hit the police car and kept going.  Read article here: http://www.9news.com/article/news/local/sending-an-emergency-alert-to-your-phone/73-507352014

Facebook Live Tech Talk: Lost Person Locator: Tools for Search and Rescue

On any given day across the United States, as many as 2,000 missing person cases are reported. Steps taken at the very start, in those precious first minutes, are critical. Search efforts, usually coordinated among multiple agencies and volunteers, can easily go awry as responders first on the scene may not have access to authoritative, comprehensive, guidelines to conduct lost person searches.

That’s where we come in: the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate is working with dbs Productions — S&T’s partner in search and rescue (SAR) research, publications, and training — to develop tools that put decades of historical, geographical and statistical search data at searchers’ fingertips.

DHS Science and Technology Directorate Facebook Tech Talk: Lost Person Locator: Tools for Search and Rescue Thursday January 25, 2-3pm ET.

Join S&T’s Dr. Angela Ervin and  dbs Productions’ Bob Koester on Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. EST for a Facebook Live Tech Talk on the Lost Person Locator suite of SAR resources, including:

  • Lost Person Behavior mobile app:
    Now available for download on Apple iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon, this app provides step-by-step search guidance, investigative questions and behavioral profiles for more than 41 missing person subject types — including lost hikers, children, and dementia patients. It also identifies high probability areas where an individual may be found and has filters for ecoregion and terrain.
  • FIND software:
    Integrates mapping, GIS, search theory, and incident management to predict the likely locations of missing subjects. FIND suggests the best deployment of teams, tracks personnel, and manages search clues. Once a team debriefs, the software updates all relevant information using GPS tracks and search theory.
  • Search and Rescue Collection Analysis Tool (SACRAT):
    Web-hosted data collection tool for use at the end of a missing person search, as well as an analysis tool after many searches. Data is automatically collected from FIND and placed into SARCAT to allow search managers or incident commanders to print out detailed incident reports.

The interview will be streamed live via S&T’s Facebook account, and we welcome your questions and comments. Join us and ask your questions about this resource on Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. EST.

Verizon Offers No More Information on Preemption Offering

A Verizon Communications, Inc., spokesman said he did not have more information today on the carrier’s provisioning of preemption as part of its public safety broadband offering. On Tuesday (TR Daily, Jan. 9), Verizon spokesman Kevin King said in response to a question from TR Daily about whether Verizon had rolled out preemption by the end of last year, as it said it would do, that “Verizon does offer preemption for public safety. We’re actually about to announce a specific example where we enabled preemption for a public safety customer on New Year’s Day. I can’t share more information on that right now but I hope to be able to in 24 hours.”

Mr. King told TR Daily today that he didn’t have more information at this point. In a blog posting last week heralding the opt-in decisions of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth said that FirstNet is “the first and only network offering priority and preemption, giving first responders their own ‘fast lane’ connection to communicate and share information at all times.” When Verizon announced its public safety broadband offering last August, it said it would offer priority access immediately and preemption by the end of 2017 (TR Daily, Aug. 15, 2017).

Courtesy TRDaily


NTIA Declines Comment on FirstNet Board Appointments

A spokesman for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration declined to comment today on when an announcement will be made on First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board appointments. FirstNet is an independent authority housed within NTIA, and the Commerce secretary officially makes nonpermanent board appointments, with advice from NTIA. However, a Commerce Department source said today that an announcement may come as early as next week.

One of the 12 nonpermanent board member seats is currently vacant, and appointments of four other nonpermanent board members were due to expire last month, after being extended from last August. Continue reading