FirstNet, Indoor Location Innovation Highlighted at 2018 NIST Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Meeting
Recently, TRX Systems attended the 2018 NIST Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Meeting. TRX was awarded a grant from the Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program (PSIAP) in June of last year. During this meeting, TRX presented last year’s new capability developments and made TRX’s latest NEON Personnel Tracker application for attendee use and evaluation throughout the 2.6 million square foot venue. The Stakeholders Meeting was an excellent forum to engage with a wide variety of public safety stakeholders – including early adopters within state, local, and federal departments responsible for safeguarding and securing the population. TRX also had a chance to catch up on the latest FirstNet news and research by other PSIAP grantees including research into next generation ranging, inertial silicon, and location constraint sources.
The PSIAP program funding is overall aimed at advancing broadband technologies for first responders; the TRX grant supports enhancement of the NEON indoor location and mapping services. NEON already supports tracking of personnel at major public events, within critical infrastructure, in support of active violence training events and for signal and sensor mapping – typically tracking a mix of law enforcement, EMTs, and other personnel working in large venues not necessarily under their complete control. With support of this grant funding, TRX is expanding the use cases served by NEON to include tracking of law enforcement and fire personnel in critical incidents. TRX PSIAP supported innovations include use of vehicle-mounted ultrawideband technology to improve initialization, enhancements to the TRX Command software to improve building modeling and navigation, and field testing/benchmarking with Arlington County (Virginia) and Plain Township (Ohio) (Public safety organizations supporting TRX include Harris County, Arlington County, Plain Township and Mifflin Township). Overall, the objective is to understand where resources are deployed during critical incidents in order to improve command and operating effectiveness as well as safety of personnel and the public.
Some of the key updates relating to both Firstnet and location services included:
FirstNet opened both the first and last days of the conference. Sue Swenson (Chairman of the FirstNet board) kicked off the conference, along with Chief Brian Fennessey (Fire Chief, Orange County), setting context for the state of broadband for first responders in this first year after the FirstNet award to AT&T. Mike Poth (FirstNet CEO) kicked off the closing day along with a collaborative panel addressing FirstNet questions (David Buchanan – Director of State Consultation, Tracy McElvaney – Lead System Architect, Jeffrey Carl – Director of Engineering/Operations, Jared Vandenheuvel – Texas Public Safety Broadband Program). Key to the strategy of getting practical solutions to market quickly was to include “objective-based goals” in the FirstNet contract for critical network capabilities – including mission critical push-to-talk and indoor location-based services. This means that the initial operating capability must be demonstrated and shown to meet the needs of the public safety use case, but the contract leaves significant room to determine the most scalable and reliable way to implement each objective. The dedicated FirstNet core is up and running with mission critical production users on it today. While it is possible to move existing AT&T lines under the FirstNet contract, moving existing devices to Band 14 has been slowed somewhat by the need for departments to wait until it is time to do a device refresh.
NIST PSIAP funded location research and development grants to TRX Systems and a number of research universities (MIT, University of California-Irvine, University of Oxford, University of Cincinnati, Carnegie Mellon, and University of Michigan) to advance technology and break down barriers that exist for tracking personnel in “GPS-denied” conditions within the most extreme scenarios (e.g., live fires, extreme tactical incidents, etc.). The University of California is developing a custom navigation chip with better drift characteristics than existing commercial technology. The University of Michigan is researching longer range RF technologies that may be able to achieve almost 100-meter range distance indoors with decimeter level accuracy using only 1 MW of transmit power. The University of Cincinnati is exploring indoor localization using LTE Direct Mode operations. The University of Oxford research included use of magnetic and visual sensor inputs and algorithms with promising results. The investment by PSIAP in researching new ranging and localization sources designed for public safety use cases will benefit the market for years to come.
A new Public Safety Technology Alliance was also announced at the conference. The objective of the PSTA is to ensure open standards for all broadband wireless communications and related technology, and the alliance is made up of a broad representation of telecom and technology industry leaders as well as federal, state, and local public safety officials. TRX is a founding industry member along with AT&T, JVCKenwood, Microsoft, Secured Communications, Sonim Technologies, and Verizon complemented by a participation from broad spectrum of public safety executives from leading law enforcement, EMT, and fire agencies.
IWCE’s Urgent Communications Editor Donny Johnson came by TRX’s booth during the Stakeholder Meeting and spoke with CEO Carol Politi about TRX’s progress to support a fully mobile first responder environment. Watch it here.
The Stakeholder Meeting is a terrific event allowing leading edge researchers and developers to directly connect with early adopters and thought leaders in the public safety user community.
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