Public safety has been in the news again as President Obama renewed calls for a national public safety broadband network in his State of the Union address. What’s going on in other areas of public safety may not be getting as much attention, but are equally important.
I recently attended the first counterterrorism workshop hosted by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Public Safety Network Systems Laboratory. This new lab is part of the UCLA School of Engineering, the same place that contributed to some of the biggest technological advancements in the last century, from blueprints for establishing a space station in the 1950s to the world’s first reverse osmosis plant and hybrid gas-electric vehicles.
With such a prestigious résumé, it’s of great benefit to the public safety community to have these researchers now turn their attention to the critical limitations and evolving challenges of public safety technologies.
The laboratory, of which Raytheon was its first partner, is dedicated to advancing public safety through six goals that focus on the development of networks and operations technologies, analysis of LTE technologies, adoption of devices such as smartphones, and establishment of standards for interoperable network systems.
On a day-to-day basis, the research team is tackling practical issues first responders face in the field. They’ll be looking at:
· Analyzing and designing adaptive power and adaptive rate scheduling for wireless and cellular networks
· Analyzing and designing wireless systems under severe fading scenarios in urban and indoor areas
· Developing apps for smartphones
But that’s not all. Over the long term, public safety will not only benefit from the third-party, unbiased testing and analysis of these UCLA researchers, but also the creation of a Public Safety Research Trust. This trust is envisioned as a 501(c)(3) charter organization dedicated solely to public safety. It would provide a neutral middle-ground for public safety organizations, research centers and industry to gather and collaboratively invest in real solutions – not just products. Industry membership dues, research grants and fundraising would ensure the trust remains an independent, self-sustaining entity.
This is a game-changing vision, one that firmly places the needs of first responders ahead of industry market obligations, profit gain and competitive advantage concerns. It’s a plan that’s already generating buzz in the public safety field, as shown by the diversity of participants at the counterterrorism workshop. Among the attendees were representatives from the FBI, LAPD, Los Angeles World Airports, City of Los Angeles Emergency Management, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the University of Southern California’s (USC) CREATE Homeland Security Center.
Public safety as we know it will never be the same. If your agency or department is interested in becoming a member of the Public Safety Research Trust, contact me on Twitter @mikebostic.
PART 2: An active shooter terrorizes a military facility. An armed suspect with a bomb-like device strapped to his body enters LAX Terminal 4. A suspect with a deadly gas device is about to walk into a state building. What equipment and information would you want in a crisis? Find out what police officers attending the UCLA Public Safety Network Systems Laboratory workshop envisioned as the technologies of the future.