New S&T News Release: DHS S&T Awards $4.8 Million to Center for Innovative Technology to Enhance Smart Cities

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced today a $4.8 million contract award to the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) of Herndon, Virginia, to apply cutting-edge Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to first responders and the commercial marketplace. The award was jointly announced by DHS Acting Under Secretary for Science and Technology William N. Bryan with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at the inaugural meeting of the Governor’s Smart Communities Working Group in Arlington, Virginia.

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Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, September 14, 2017

Public Safety Grade AT&T recently stated at a congressional hearing that there was no “real” definition for the term, “Public Safety Grade.” The public safety community responded with disbelief, led by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) which had published a paper addressing all of the issues needed to qualify as a Public Safety Grade Network. The document, “Defining Public Safety Grade Systems and Facilities,” was published in May of 2014 after much work by many people. Starting on page 108 of the document is a list of individuals and organizations that contributed to this report and the list is three pages long.

In all fairness to AT&T, at last week’s NPTSC meeting in Washington, DC, the AT&T senior vice president in charge of FirstNet stood up and apologized to NPSTC for his comments and then spoke about how AT&T is moving toward public safety grade status. His apology and comments were well received by NPSTC and the clarification was timely and well-articulated.

What he did not say and what I hope to show in this week’s Advocate is that there are differences between public safety grade for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) sites and an LTE network. It is important for LMR communications professionals to understand these differences and not hold AT&T to public safety grade for every cell site in the network. The methodology for hardening an LTE network is different but effective and it is these differences that need to be understood. Continue reading

Free Digital Trade Seen Requiring Focus on Data Localization, Beneficial Regulations

Ensuring digital trade is essential to promoting U.S. economic growth and trade talks, including renegotiations of existing trade agreements, should aim to raise the bar for those goods that are subject to customs and taxes, and push for beneficial approaches on data localization and cybersecurity, panelists said in a congressional hearing this morning. During a Joint Economic Committee hearing on the dynamic gains from free digital trade for the U.S. economy, Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), vice chairman of the committee, said, “We are swiftly approaching the point where the word ‘digital’ will be an unnecessary adjective for trade. Although, I’m sure trade lawyers will want to maintain the extra level of specificity for billing purposes.

“But we need to work both domestically and internationally to facilitate trade and innovation,” Sen. Lee continued.  “We should seek to ensure that sensible regulations and standards are put in place for the protection of intellectual property and private information. Continue reading

NTIA Group on IoT Security Upgrades Nearing Finish Line

Participants in the multistakeholder group convened by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to consider security upgradability and patching for IoT (Internet of things) devices are in the finishing stages of the three remaining work group products, and are looking ahead to where those outputs might be housed and updated going forward, as well as what IoT security issues the NTIA multistakeholder process might tackle next.

Evelyn Remaley, deputy associate administrator of NTIA’s Office of Policy Analysis and Development, said, “At NTIA right now it’s very difficult for us to host more than one multistakeholder meeting at a time.”  However, the agency is hearing “about challenges in this area” and “would like to be able to continue,” she said, adding, “We get questions about it daily from our government colleagues.” Among the possible issues for such an endeavor mentioned by participants were user authentication by devices and the length of time security support should reasonably be provided.

The remaining groups are working on technical capabilities and patching expectations; existing standards, tools, and initiatives; and incentives, barriers, and adoption. Guidance on how manufacturers of Internet of things (IoT) devices should communicate with consumers about security upgrades for those devices was adopted at the group’s last meeting (TR Daily, July 18). Continue reading

NBC News Reports: Hurricanes Show Why Drones Are the Future of Disaster Relief

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Dozens of unmanned aerial vehicles were deployed in Houston in response to Hurricane Harvey, and UAVs are expected to be out in full force across Florida in coming days. Experts say UAVs will likely play an even bigger role in relief efforts when future storms or earthquakes hit. Drones can perform critical tasks as disasters unfold, including spotting people in need of urgent help. Evidence suggests drones may have certain advantages over traditional search-and-rescue efforts — including speed.

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, September 8, 2017

Public Safety Devices As FirstNet moves forward with more than twenty opt-ins, and the network begins to take shape, questions remain about the types of devices that will be needed and wanted by the public safety community. The original vison put forth by many of us working on the project prior to Congress allocating the spectrum or creating FirstNet is that at some point a single device would be carried by all first responders to access both broadband and Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems. Why burden those who already carry a belt full of gear with yet another device? However, during recent conversations with some of those advocating for public safety broadband and with many of today’s first responders, it appears as though the vision of one person, one device may not always be the best choice. It is clear that we will start with existing land mobile radio portables, smartphones, and tablets. AT&T has made it simple for opt-in states.

An agency simply signs up and its users receive new Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards for their existing smartphones (if they are compatible with AT&T’s spectrum). Over time, as AT&T builds out FirstNet Band 14, new devices can be purchased. There are already several offerings on the market, specifically from Sonim, that meet the need for hardened, long battery life devices and more are coming from Motorola, Harris, Tait, JVCKenwood, and others. LMR vendors are working on cross-over devices or devices that communicate back-and forth between LMR and LTE networks.

Discussions I have had indicate more than ever that there will need to be multiple types of devices, offering multiple types of services or combinations of services. One of the issues with this, of course, is that vendors do not like to build a few each of many different types of devices and would rather build many of one type. One of the reasons LMR radios are so expensive is that there are so many different radios needed for different portions of the LMR spectrum that production costs remain high. Read the Entire Blog Here

Senators Blast The FCC For Weakening The Definition Of Broadband To Try And Hide The Industry’s Lack Of Real CompetitionTechdirt Corporate Intelligence Sep  8 15:05 Back in 2015, the FCC raised the standard definition of broadband from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up, to an arguably-more-modern 25 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up. Of course the uncompetitive broadband industry (and the lawmakers who adore them) subsequently threw a collective hissy fit about the change, because they realized a higher bar would only highlight their failure to deliver next-generation broadband to vast swaths of America. And highlight it did: by this…

Vermont Releases RFP for Statewide LTE RANMissionCritical Sep  8 10:03 The Vermont Office of Purchasing & Contracting, on behalf of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), is soliciting proposals for an alternative solution to the nationwide offering of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Proposals are sought from qualified firms to build, operate and maintain a statewide radio access network (RAN) to connect to and be fully interoperable with the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN). read more

AT and T Exec Backtracks on Public Safety Grade CommentsMissionCritical Sep  8 10:03 Chris Sambar, AT&T senior vice president, apologized for comments he made “that may have been misleading” regarding a definition of public safety grade for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) nationwide public-safety broadband network. read more Continue reading

Nearly 39 Percent of Cells Sites out in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Nearly 39% of cell sites were out of service as of this morning in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Irma, the FCC reported this afternoon, using information submitted to its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). The report advised readers not to compare the outages reported today with those in yesterday’s report because today’s report includes a larger area.

The FCC said yesterday that more than half of the cell sites were down in 25 counties in Puerto Rico and in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, while across all 41 counties in the northern and eastern parts of Puerto Rico and all three districts of the U.S. Virgin Islands, 55.2% of cell sites were suffering outages (TR Daily, Sept. 7).

“DIRS is currently activated for all areas of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” today’s report noted. “Yesterday’s report covered only the northern and eastern counties of Puerto Rico and all three counties of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Based on the information in yesterday’s report, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission decided to extend the data collection to all counties/municipalities in Puerto Rico.” Continue reading