New Grants Aim to Enhance Responders' Communications

NIST reported that it reviewed 162 proposals from industry, academia, and public safety organizations and chose 33 that span five key technology areas.

The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded $38.5 million to 33 research and development projects aimed at advancing broadband communications technologies for first responders. The individual grants announced June 13 range from about $200,000 to $2.2 million.

"Through programs like FirstNet, President Trump and this administration are working hard to keep Americans safe," said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. "These grant awards will help fulfill our mission, ensuring that first responders have access to advanced tools that can save lives."

They are multiyear grants intended to help modernize public safety communications and operations by supporting the migration of data, video, and voice communications from mobile radio to a nationwide public safety broadband network and speeding critical technologies related to indoor location tracking and public safety analytics.

The grants are part of the Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program funded by NIST's $300 million allocation from the 2015 auction of advanced wireless service licenses. NIST reported that it reviewed 162 proposals from industry, academia, and public safety organizations and chose 33 that span five key technology areas:

  • Mission critical voice (moving from traditional radios to cellular systems)
  • Location-based services (conducting indoor positioning, navigation, and mapping)
  • Public safety analytics (handling and exploiting more data)
  • Research and prototyping platforms (enabling low-cost R&D tools)
  • Resilient systems (ensuring systems work in poor conditions)

The largest grant is going to New York University -- $2,265,051 -- for an End-to-End Research Platform for Public Safety Millimeter Wave Communications project.

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