Dr. Robert Johnk, Jaydee Griffith and Mitchell Powell received a U.S. Department of Commerce Silver Medal for developing and using an innovative approach to measure building-penetration characteristics of radio signals, for implementing a compact, radio signal measurement system, and for developing an efficient and effective methodology for determining optimal configurations and designs for in-building communication systems for use by first responders.
Building walls reduce radio signal power in complex ways, creating difficult and sometimes life-threatening communication challenges for first responders. The team investigated different building types and different ways to enhance coverage by LTE systems. Dr. Johnk developed an innovative test plan and, with the help of the team, performed a comprehensive series of measurements using a technologically advanced system to measure signal strengths and equipment performance. Because the system was mounted in a backpack, measurements could be conducted in places and circumstances that closely mimicked those of first responders moving through various building types during incident responses.
Measurement results led to concrete recommendations (NTIA Technical Report TR-15-518 In-Building LTE Testing at the University of Colorado) for improving in-building performance of LTE communications equipment which are providing guidance to the public safety community, with the goal of enhancing the safety and effectiveness of America's first responders.