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DHS, NYPD Partner to Test Public Safety Communications Technologies

DHS and NYPD tested two new technologies that might one day be utilized to overcome wireless dead spots and service congestion.

NEW YORK CITY — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate is partnering with the New York Police Department (NYPD) to test and evaluate new communications technologies for first responders.

Established by Congress in 2003, S&T conducts basic and applied research, development, demonstration, testing and evaluation activities relevant to homeland security. The directorate’s First Responder Group (FRG) recently collaborated in several tests with the NYPD, including evaluations of the Mobile Ad-hoc Networking (MANET) system and an Android Tactical Awareness Kit (ATAK), Homeland Preparedness News reported.

The technologies are being examined to potentially improve communications and situational awareness for public safety officers.

“Ensuring our public safety agencies have the necessary technologies to share interoperable voice, data and video during an emergency remains a top priority for the Department of Homeland Security,” Cuong Luu, S&T program manager for the MANET project, told Homeland Preparedness News. “By testing systems in operational environments, we can observe how equipment supports the mission-specific needs of local law enforcement agencies, and help determine its communication range capabilities for supporting voice, video, and geographic location capabilities in a complex urban environment.”

MANET employs smart radio to transmit data, video and voice communications between multiple radio nodes and also can augment both cell phone networks and land mobile radio communications. It is designed to work through extreme temperatures. ATAK is an app developed by the Air Force Research Lab which shows the geographic location of all MPU5 smart radio nodes on the network and provides text, chat, video, and pictures sharing on a real time map.

DHS officials are hopeful the technologies can be utilized to overcome wireless dead spots and service congestion, which can be real concerns for heavily populated areas like New York City. The NYPD tested these items at Times Square and the Times Square subway station. Testers gave positive results to the technology, lauding its video streaming and live location updates.

S&T intends to eventually publish a report of these field tests, according to Homeland Preparedness News.

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