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DISTRIBUTED TESTBED FOR FIRST RESPONDERS

Overview

DTFR is essentially a demonstration of how an integration of various technologies can help first responders and public safety officers to be more effective and efficient in their operations.

fire system communications between building and firetruck
Diagram of communications within building and between the building and other parts of the first responders' communications network


During fiscal year 2003 (October 2002 - September 2003) NIST Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL), Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), and Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (MEL) worked together to integrate a wide range of technologies, such as communication and networking technologies, sensors, indoor localization, fire evolution prediction tools, building integrity analysis tools, decision support systems, biometric identification, etc. The result was a demonstration of a number of advanced capabilities through a seamless integration of these technologies. DTFR was successfully demonstrated to and well received by a group of about two dozen fire/police chiefs from across the country in July 2003.

ITL's contribution to DTFR was in the areas of communications, networking, and indoor localization. Specifically, we designed and prototyped a wireless ad hoc network (also known as a mesh network) based on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware that provides users with multimedia communication capability. Each handheld communication device is an HP/Compaq iPAQ PDA, a PC tablet, or a PC laptop running on Linux, equipped with an IEEE 802.11b WLAN card, and uploaded with NIST-developed research prototype implementations of a number of protocols and algorithms. These communication devices automatically form a network as the first responders from various jurisdictions converge on the scene of an emergency and are within radio range of each other.

DTFR offers an array of advanced capabilities for first responders and public safety officers. These capabilities include private (one-to-one) / group (teleconferencing) / broadcast voice / data communications, streaming video, sensor information communication, and indoor 3D localization and tracking of responders / officers / civilians / assets. Furthermore, DTFR has interoperability with the Internet, PSTN, and cellular telephone networks.

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