Public Safety Technology

Public Safety Technology

Public Safety Technology and Solutions cover many different areas, some of which are described below.  In addition, NIST and PSCR have funded R&D efforts in a variety of Next Generation Public Safety areas focused on the following:

  • Mission-Critical Voice
    • Device-to-Device (Off-Network) LTE Voice Communication
    • Mission-Critical Push-To-Talk
  • Location-Based Services (Indoor Positioning, Navigation, and Mapping)
  • Public Safety Analytics
  • Public Safety Communications Demand Model
  • Research and Prototyping Platforms
    • Application and Network Simulation and Modeling
    • Programmable / Software Defined Radios
  • Resilient Systems

For more information, see the Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program

Public Safety Answer Point

A Public Safety Answer Point (PSAP) represents a call center responsible for answering calls to an emergency telephone number for police, firefighting, and ambulance services.

The core component of a PSAP 911 deployment is the ANI/ALI controller, essentially the computer system that serves as the hub to other devices, communications links, and databases needed to provide 911 services.

There are multiple interfaces on the ANI/ALI Controller. When a caller dials 911, once the call is routed through the Location Positioning Technologies configuration that happens to exist for that caller, carrier, LEC and PSAP, the call arrives at the Pap’s ANI/ALI controller.

Geographic Information System

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analysis. A GIS is designed for the collection, storage, processing and analysis of objects in which geographic location is an important characteristic.

GIS technology integrates database operations such as query and statistical analysis with visualization and analysis at the user interface through the display and use of map data. GIS components consist of hardware, software, data, methods used to obtain and manage the data, and the users of the data. Maps are graphic representations of the real world, which depict natural objects such as mountains, rivers, and lakes as well as man-made objects such as buildings and roads.

Enhanced 9-1-1 Calling

With Wireless Phase II 911, the PSAP receives both the wireless caller's telephone number and their specific location by latitude and longitude.

One of the key technologies supporting enhanced 9-1-1 is improved GPS systems. Most notably, Assisted-GPS (A-GPS) dramatically improves the performance of GPS receivers by providing them with data that they would ordinarily have to download from the GPS satellites. With A-GPS data, GPS receivers can operate faster and more reliably.

When a caller dials 911, the GPS chipset in the handset takes measurements both from GPS satellites and the cellular network. Server software in the wireless network synthesizes the two measurements and produces a precise location of the caller.

Indoor Location Determination

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) timelines for wireless providers to meet new indoor location accuracy benchmarks, both for horizontal and vertical location information.

While very helpful in an outdoor environment, GPS is often problematic indoors. Location tracking inside a building is often not feasible using GPS. GPS is too-often not able to capture frequencies inside the building.

There is a need for additional supporting wireless positioning technologies. However, no single technology approach will solve the challenge of improved indoor location accuracy, but rather a mixture of solutions such as WiFi, RFID, Bluetooth, and others.

LMR for Public Safety Communications

Public safety organizations are principally using LMR systems for mobile communications. While LMR is a proven mission-critical instant voice solution, it has the shortcomings of limited coverage, very low data capacity: inadequate interoperability and very high cost.

In today’s LMR networks, mobility and roaming between networks is very limited for a variety of reasons, including the lack of a common technology among the organizations assisting in the response, even when they are neighboring entities.

Public Safety LTE Communications

It is because of the aforementioned reasons and several others that LMR will eventually be replaced by next generation systems such as those enabled via the Fourth Generation (4G) of cellular known as Long Term Evolution (LTE) standards.

It is important to note that LMR will not simply go away as next generation public safety communications via LTE is deployed. In fact, LTE will initially need to interoperation with existing LMR deployments, in order to support both voice and mission critical data services, as narrowband LMR continue to play a critical role in for providing features such as extensive coverage, talk groups for voice, sub second PTT response times and direct mode communication between user terminals.

The United States plans to leverage a dedicated Public Safety LTE network known as FirstNet to provide next generation LTE-based communications for first responders.

Advanced Public Safety LTE Features and Functionality

Deployment of a LTE network for Public Safety will offer much more than voice and basic data communication applications. There is a growing demand for non-voice centric services, which will be facilitated via LTE and beyond.

LTE opens opportunities for a wide array of Public Safety applications such as Bi-directional vehicular and mobile video, location services, multimedia command and control, dynamic mapping, and content-rich queries to complex databases.

These types of capabilities will present a substantial improvement over the current LMR networks, designed primarily for voice communications, which can't meet today's need for high-speed mobile data services.

For instance, a police database query will no longer deliver a plain text paragraph. Instead, these queries can be enhanced to deliver rich, user friendly information containing video clips and high-resolution imagery. Furthermore, LTE’s high data rates and low latency will ensure that this data arrives in time for such mission critical environments.

Public Safety personnel will be able to access video associated with an incident scene in progress and improve response through dynamic localization, mapping, weather, and traffic flow applications.

LTE Discovery, Proximity Services, and Direct Communications

One of the important differentiators for LTE over LMR is Discovery, Proximity Services (ProSe), and Direct Communications.
LTE will operate in a peer-to-peer mode known as LTE Direct (LTE-D) that involves discovery and a mode of operation involving the so-called “ambient awareness”. This is expected to be a novelty (for non-emergency consumer applications) at first but quickly evolve into a new ecosystem that is at once complementary and competitive to the current cellular ecosystem.

Instead of transmitting messages to a macro network and then having messages sent back to devices through the mobile network, LTE-D provides for the ability of device-to-device (D2D) communications. LTE Direct can also mean an LTE broadcast where a one-to-many message can be sent directly to LTE capable devices without the use of the larger macro network.

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