Interoperability!. Chances are, it is a term we don’t think about too much. It is defined as the ability of a system to work smoothly and reciprocally with the equipment in another system. In times of crisis, interoperability between first responders is critical. Unfortunately, in many areas of the country, emergency personnel do not have access to the broadband and cutting edge technology that consumers do. Congressman Donald Payne Jr., who serves as Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, has asserted that enabling police, fire and medical services to use the same bandwidth in emergencies is among our biggest challenges. Fortunately, there is a branch of The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR) whose purpose is to conduct research into overcoming obstacles to interoperability among emergency systems. They are currently offering the NIST Public Safety Innovation Acceleration Program to enhance the ability of public safety operations to protect the public through more sophisticated communication setups.
The NIST Public Safety Innovation Acceleration Program
This program's chief goal is to provide first responders with the same broadband capability and up-to-date technology as the public they serve. It funds projects involved in research, development, production, and testing within the following areas:
- Mission-critical voice
- Location based services (LBS)
- Public safety analytics
- Public safety communications demand model
- Research and prototyping platforms
- Resilient systems
Applying for the Public Safety Innovation Acceleration Program
Eligible applicants are state and local government, Native American Tribes, academic institutions, nonprofits, and the private sector. Since the PSCR recognizes that many researcher organizations may apply for this grant, applicants are encouraged to partner with nonfederal first responders. The funding agency has a list of public safety organizations interested in participating in the program. If you would like to access it or be added on, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. A pre-application webinar is planned with the date to be announced on the PSCR website. Projects should be disseminated throughout the public safety community. Apply by February 28, 2017.