Communication interoperabillity

  • Public safety networkPublic safety network failed to involve important constituencies in development phase

    A few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress established the First Responder Network Authority(FirstNet), an agency tasked with creating a nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety and emergency response officials. Currently, the nation’s 5.4 million first responders rely on commercial carriers to communicate and share critical information during emergencies. Analysts say that a failure to incorporate the public safety sector into the development phase of FirstNet set the new agency on a wrong path since its early days. The failure by FirstNet to involve its most important constituency — emergency responders, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), firefighters, and police officers – raises questions about the likely effectiveness of the network.

  • Emergency communicationHarris protests FBI’s Motorola radio upgrade contract

    The Harris Corp. has become the second contractor, afterRELM Wireless Corp., formally to protest the FBI’s decision to award a $500 million non-bid contract to Motorola Solutions Inc., claiming the contract to upgrade the FBI’s 30-year-old two-way radio network was “factually unsound, legally unwarranted and wholly unnecessary.”

  • ContractsDHS urged to investigate use of DHS grants for Motorola emergency comm. devices

    Three senior House Democrats have requested DHS’s Office of Inspector Generalto investigate allegations claiming Motorola’s contracting tactics have led state and local governments unnecessarily to spend millions of dollars on the company’s proprietary devices, including its two-way emergency radio systems.

  • In the trenchesUAV-mounted high-speed wireless networks for remotely deployed troops

    Missions in remote, forward operating locations often suffer from a lack of connectivity to tactical operation centers and access to valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data. The assets needed for long-range, high-bandwidth communications capabilities are often unavailable to lower echelons due to theater-wide mission priorities. DARPA’s Mobile Hotspots program makes progress toward the goal of providing 1 Gb/s communications backbone to deployed units.

  • Spectrum challengeSpectrum Challenge: more robust, resilient, reliable radio communications

    Reliable wireless communications today requires careful allocation of specific portions of the electromagnetic spectrum to individual radio networks. While pre-allocating spectrum is effective in benign environments, radios remain vulnerable to inadvertent interference from other emitters and intentional jamming by adversaries. On 19-20 March 2014, fifteen teams from around the country demonstrated new ways to help overcome these challenges by participating in the final event of the DARPA Spectrum Challenge — a national competition to develop advanced radio techniques capable of communicating in congested and contested electromagnetic environments without direct coordination or spectrum preplanning.

  • EncryptionQuantum encryption for wiretap-proof communication a step closer

    Polarized light, in which all the light waves oscillate on the same plane, forms the foundation for technology such as LCD displays in computers and TV sets, and advanced quantum encryption. There are two ways to create polarized light, but each has its problems: filtering normal unpolarized to block unwanted light waves (but here, half of the light emitted, and thereby an equal amount of energy, are lost), or using light which is polarized at the source (but here, polarization is either too weak or hard to control). Now there is a better way: By emitting photons from a quantum dot at the top of a micropyramid, researchers are creating a polarized light source with a high degree of linear polarization, on average 84 percent. As the quantum dots can also emit one photon at a time, this is promising technology for quantum encryption, a growing technology for wiretap-proof communication.

  • First respondersElbit Systems’ subsidiary to provide secure broadband mobile solution for first responders

    DHS Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) has selected Elbit Systems of America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, to provide a technology demonstrator for a secure broadband services solution for first responders. DHS will use this solution to test the new LTE broadband network with various mission critical secure multimedia services for public safety users. Following the integration and proof of concept phase, DHS will proceed with field tests within selected homeland security components.

  • African securityEU to fund improved C3IS capabilities for African-led security operations

    The EU on Friday confirm it will provide 12.5 million euros through its African Peace Facility to improve the command, control, communication, and information system (C3IS) used in African-led peace support operations. Since 2004 the EU has provided 1.1 billion euros to support peace and security operations in Africa.

  • In the trenchesMarines test latest battlefield IT at Agile Bloodhound ‘13

    Marines in Hawaii last week demonstrated that using handheld devices and special software automatically to sift through loads of data can help ease information overload and deliver made-to-order intelligence to the front lines. “We’re trying to create a user-oriented world view for Marines,” said Col. William Zamagni. “Whether they’re in command centers with PCs, in vehicles with laptops or on foot with smartphones, Marines need access to the most pertinent information possible.”

  • CommunicationTeams show robust radio techniques at Spectrum Challenge event

    Radios are used for a wide range of tasks, from the most mundane to the most critical of communications, from garage door openers to first responders to military operations. Wireless devices often inadvertently interfere with and disrupt radio communications, and in battlefield environments adversaries may intentionally jam friendly communications. To stimulate the development of radio techniques that can overcome these impediments, the agency launched its Spectrum Challenge — a competitive demonstration of robust radio technologies that seek to communicate reliably in congested and contested electromagnetic environments without direct coordination or spectrum preplanning.

  • In the trenchesUnified military intelligence picture dispels the fog of war

    Military operations depend upon the unimpeded flow of accurate and relevant information to support timely decisions related to battle planning and execution. To address these needs, numerous intelligence systems and technologies have been developed over the past twenty years, but each of these typically provides only a partial picture of the battlefield, and integrating the information has proven to be burdensome and inefficient. DARPA’s Insight program aims to bring real-time, integrated, multi-source intelligence to the battlefield.

  • Emergency communicationJustice Department sues to block release of FirstNet-related information

    A federal court in Des Moines, Iowa, accepted arguments by Justice Department lawyers to issue a temporary injunction to block the release by an Iowa Sherriff of e-mails pertaining to a public safety communication network. The Justice Department argued the release of e-mails could seriously impede plans for this single, interoperable network designed to resolve the communications problems that hampered responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and other disasters. FirstNet, to whose board Fitzgerald was appointed last year, was authorized by Congress in 2012 to develop and deploy the communications network and is housed in the Department of Commerce.

  • In the trenchesSecure, private Internet and cloud to soldiers, marines at the tactical edge

    Squads of soldiers or marines on patrol in remote forward locations often do not have the luxury of quickly sharing current intelligence information and imagery on their mobile devices, because they cannot access a central server. Troops frequently have to wait until they are back at camp to download the latest updates. In the meantime, mission opportunities may erode because the information needed at the tactical edge isn’t immediately available. DARPA’s Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN) program aims to provide an alternative approach to the top down focus of most military networks by starting the content sharing at the individual soldier or marine level.

  • Disaster to communicationGuaranteeing communication coverage in the event of disaster

    An EU-funded project that aims to develop a rapidly deployable wireless communication network for use in the aftermath of an emergency, disaster, or unexpected event, was commended recently at an international event.

  • Emergency communicationCompetitors selected for DARPA Spectrum Challenge

    As wireless devices proliferate and the radio spectrum becomes ever more congested, all users have a common interest in radio technologies that can accommodate the largest number of users but still enable priority traffic to get through. Three wild card selections remain to be selected for the DARPA Spectrum Challenge, a competition aiming to demonstrate solutions for more robust wireless radio technologies.