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Summer Student Project Spawns Promising Radio Technology for Public Safety

Date: 2014-08-18
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A new summer student project at the New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation (NYSTEC) in Rome, NY, culminated in the successful demonstration of technology that could solve radio communications problems for emergency responders across New York State.

AFRL/NYSTEC summer interns Kyle Waldeck (standing left) and Alan Street (standing right) demonstrate their prototype radio software bridge to public safety officials from six counties.

Kyle Waldeck and Alan Street are engineering students from SUNYIT in Utica who spent the summer working as interns in collaboration with communications engineers from consulting firm NYSTEC.  The interns were given hands-on responsibilities to help develop a software bridge that enables clear voice communications between dissimilar radio systems.  During a demonstration in Oswego (NY) on August 8, the interns successfully employed the software bridge to communicate via VHF/FM radio with Oswego County's public safety radio system, which consists of Project 25 radio technology.  The demonstration was attended by public safety officials from six member counties of the Central New York Interoperable Communications Consortium.

"I'm very pleased with the success of the demonstration," said NYSTEC President and CEO Mike Walsh.  "I'm even more pleased that the first year of our internship program has been such a success."

"The program has enabled a couple of outstanding college students to work with advanced technology and with experienced engineers.  Kyle and Alan now have a better grasp of how their schooling can translate to a career in engineering.  Plus, they've played key roles in developing a prototype technology that could prove tremendously beneficial to public safety agencies across New York State.  I'd especially like to thank Mike Allen (Oswego County E9-1-1 Director) and Oswego County for allowing us to test this technology with the county's public safety radio system."

Public safety communications problems have been in the news since the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks when, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, emergency responders from various departments in New York City were unable to communicate using different radio systems.  During the 13 years since the attacks, federal and state governments have explored various solutions to public safety interoperability problems, which exist nationwide.  In New York State, local emergency responders and state agencies currently use various types of radio systems, many of which cannot communicate with other systems.  NYSTEC has more than 10 years of experience helping government entities solve their interoperability problems.

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"Because the technology the students demonstrated is based on open-source software, it could provide a low-cost and very adaptable solution to interoperability problems across New York State," said Walsh.  "The software is free, it runs over standard hardware, and the solution is very adaptable.  Down the road we would like to boost the bridge so it could eventually accommodate the transmission of video and data as well as voice communications."

The project has involved the adaptation of open-source GnuRadio software.  While current commercial technologies for bridging disparate communications systems require that the hardware be moved to an incident area, NYSTEC's prototype solution could be installed in current infrastructure for emergency communications and activated remotely when needed.

Pictured left to right are NYSTEC interns Alan Street and Kyle Waldeck, Bruce Youmans (the interns' primary mentor) of PAR Government/Rome Research Corporation and Oswego County E-911 Director Mike Allen.

The interns are very pleased with how their summer has gone.  SUNYIT senior Waldeck commented, "The program has been a great opportunity to utilize knowledge I’ve gained through my coursework and develop new skills that will help me in future classes.”

Street, a junior at SUNYIT, echoed those sentiments, adding that he is eager to see how the project will benefit emergency responders and communities statewide.

For more information on NYSTEC see www.nystec.com

- People, Places & Things/9-1-1magazine.com (via NYSTEC , 8/15/14)

 

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