MEMPHIS – The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is making a $2 million grant to Tennessee’s Public Television Stations to fund a pilot project that will deliver private, secure communication between first responders and their management teams in case of an emergency or natural disaster, according to Commissioner David W. Purkey.
Arnold Hooper, Tennessee’s Wireless Communications Director for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, says the grant will be used to install datacasting equipment and software that will leverage a portion of the broadcast transmission of each Tennessee public television station to deliver encrypted public safety video, files, alerts and other data along with regular programming. This new capability will allow public safety agencies to benefit from the existing infrastructure, licensed spectrum and ability to securely deliver content anywhere in the state to an unlimited number of specifically targeted receivers. All public safety content is secure and can only be accessed by personnel who have the credentials and receive equipment. The project will be completed in a 30 month timeline with initial stations being tested and placed into operation within six months of the grant. This first statewide datacasting system will be a model for regional and even national deployments in the future.
Using the datacasting capability and fiber connections already in place among the six Tennessee Public Television Stations, communication between police, fire, medical and government personnel can be targeted within the areas affected by a severe, life-threatening emergency or natural disaster. The six TN stations are Memphis (WKNO), Martin/Lexington/Jackson (WLJT), Nashville (WNPT), Cookeville (WCTE), Knoxville/Sneedville (East TN PBS) and Chattanooga (WTCI). Continue reading
T-Band Revisited, New FirstNet Authority CEO. Just to refresh your memories, the T-Band is the 470–512-MHz spectrum that was allocated to UHF-TV channels 14-20 that has since been made available to both public safety and, in some areas, business Land Mobile Radio (LMR) users. This was implemented in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action in 1971 and today there are eleven major metro areas that make use of the T-Band.
When Congress passed the bill authorizing FirstNet it included other provisions as well. One of these was that the T-Band would be available for spectrum auction nine years after the bill was signed. Once the auctions were over, the public safety community would have to vacate the spectrum within another two years. Those in Congress who added this provision to the bill indicated they had to have a “give-back” of some type to help them justify the release of ten additional megahertz of 700-MHz spectrum for public safety. It was not clear in the law who would pay for T-Band users to move off the T-Band nor where the FCC would find spectrum to accommodate them.
Some in Congress at the time FirstNet was passed into law believed FirstNet would be able to absorb all of the existing LMR users in these eleven metro areas. However, as of today, FirstNet is not ready to take over complete public safety-grade services including off-network voice communications and other functions needed by first responders. Therefore, as the deadline approaches, efforts to have Congress review and rescind this portion of the law have been stepped up.
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Legislation that would turn the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) into an “operational” unit focused on cybersecurity and infrastructure protection was approved yesterday by the Senate.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act (HR 3359) cleared the Senate by unanimous consent. The House approved the bill last December (TR Daily, Dec. 11, 2017). But the amended Senate version will have to return to the House for another vote.
The new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency that would be created by the bill would be led by a director rather than an undersecretary and would include three divisions devoted to cybersecurity, infrastructure security, and emergency communications. Christopher Krebs, DHS’s undersecretary–national protection and programs, would lead the new agency. Continue reading
The Transportation Department today released new guidance for automated vehicles that, among other things, reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that transportation safety applications can use the 5.9 gigahertz band.
The new guidance, “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0” “builds upon — but does not replace — voluntary guidance” known as “Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety” that was released last year (TR Daily, Sept. 12, 2017), DoT said. Last year’s AV guidance was the first for the Trump administration and followed guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2016 (TR Daily, Sept. 20, 2016).
In AV 3.0, the Transportation Department reaffirmed that “the Department is continuing its work to preserve the ability for transportation safety applications to function in the 5.9 GHz spectrum.”
“Throughout the Nation there are over 70 active deployments of V2X communications utilizing the 5.9 GHz band,” DoT said. “U.S. DOT currently estimates that by the end of 2018, over 18,000 vehicles will be deployed with aftermarket V2X communications devices and over 1,000 infrastructure V2X devices will be installed at the roadside. Furthermore, all seven channels in the 5.9 GHz band are actively utilized in these deployments. In addition to the Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC)-based deployments, private sector companies are already researching and testing Cellular-V2X technology that would also utilize the 5.9 GHz spectrum.”
DoT said that it “is continuing its work to preserve the ability for transportation safety applications to function in the 5.9 GHz spectrum while exploring methods for sharing the spectrum with other users in a manner that maintains priority use for vehicle safety communications. A three-phase test plan was collaboratively developed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the FCC has completed the first phase. Phases 2 and 3 of the spectrum sharing test plan will explore potential sharing solutions under these more real-world conditions.”
The FCC has not yet released the results of the Phase 1 testing, which was done in the FCC’s lab, on sharing of the 5.9 GHz band between DSRC and Wi-Fi operations. The next two phases of testing are expected to be done in the field. Continue reading
The FCC plans to assess the results of today’s nationwide wireless emergency alert/Emergency Alert System test, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Lisa Fowlkes said in a blog posting. “Now that the nationwide test is complete, the next step is to assess the results and identify areas for improvement. The FCC is committed to working with FEMA and other stakeholders to support this effort,” she said.
“We plan to engage with FEMA and wireless providers to learn how today’s Wireless Emergency Alert test performed. In addition, the radio and television providers that participated in the accompanying Emergency Alert System test will file reports with us about their experience receiving and retransmitting FEMA’s test message. As we’ve done in the past, we will analyze that data to identify any necessary EAS improvements. We also welcome feedback from the public about their experience with the test on both systems. We look forward to assessing all the information available and doing our part to continue strengthening these life-saving alerting systems.”
In its last meeting under its current charter, the FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee today approved recommendations to the FCC regarding the compatibility of real-time text (RTT) with refreshable Braille displays, the integration of RTT in telecommunications relay service (TRS) operations, metrics for Internet protocol captioned telephone service (IP CTS), and access to TRS at emergency shelters.
The emergency shelter recommendation urges the FCC to extend its June ruling to allow all TRS providers to be compensated for calls by unregistered TRS users from temporary TRS devices in emergency shelters, and for the FCC to issue an annual public notice to inform emergency shelter providers as well as TRS providers and individuals that TRS calls from emergency shelters will be reimbursable if the shelters provide telecommunications services to the general public. Continue reading
The move to 5G and the increasing availability of Internet of things (IoT) devices will bring numerous benefits — along with some challenges — to public safety operations as the country moves toward next-generation 911 (NG-911) services, speakers said today at a Telecommunications Industry Association event.
“Creating a strong, nationwide 5G infrastructure will allow public safety answering points and first responders to rely on the Internet of Things to carry out their crucial mission effectively and efficiently,” TIA Chief Executive Officer Wes Johnston said. The deployment of IoT devices will also present “new challenges” for public safety officials, he said, ranging from implementation costs to concerns about interoperability between new and existing technologies.
“In order to fully harness the potential of these emerging technologies, industry experts are going to have to work hand in hand with first responders and government officials to ensure a smooth and seamless integration of next generation technologies into the evolving existing public safety networks,” Mr. Johnston said.
There is “quite a bit of focus” in Congress on IoT issues, Rep. Susan Brooks (R., Ind.) said at the event, adding communications systems need to optimized to ensure the “incredible skills” of the nation’s first responders can be deployed effectively.
“[I]f they can’t communicate and they arrive [at a scene] and can’t find out what the game plan is, then, quite frankly, it’s an incredible waste of resources and it impedes their ability to save lives,” Rep. Brooks said. “In this incredibly … fast-paced world, it’s just so easy for us to take for granted the fact that we have these technologies, but yet we’ve got to make sure that they work.”
It is important that Congress explore how 5G “can help us save lives and enhance public safety communications,” Ms. Brooks said. She pointed to her state’s implementation of text-to-911 as a sign of how important new technologies can be to enhancing emergency services. Continue reading