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Collaborate with PSCR

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. 

To fulfill this mission, NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division aims to collaborate with industry, academia, and other government agencies to advance communications technology in support of first responders. PSCR has a long history of utilizing collaborative methods, including cooperative agreements, accelerator programs, prize challenges, and Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), to bring diverse partners to work on projects that benefit the public safety ecosystem. By working together, PSCR and its partners can achieve outcomes that are greater than the sum of their individual efforts. Parties interested in partnering with PSCR can learn more below.

What is a CRADA?

A CRADA is a legal agreement between NIST and a private company, university, or organization that allows the government agency and the private entity to collaborate on research and development (R&D) projects for mutual benefit. Under a CRADA, NIST provides access to its facilities, equipment, and expertise, while the private entity contributes its own resources, such as equipment loans, personnel, and technology. The goal is to accelerate the development and commercialization of new products and technologies that benefit both the private entity and the public. 

Benefits of CRADAs

CRADAs provide a unique opportunity for NIST to collaborate with its partners on R&D projects that align with its mission and priorities, while also benefiting the participants. Some of the key benefits for business, industry, and academic partners are:

  • Access to government resources: CRADAs provide private organizations with access to government facilities, test systems, data, equipment, and expertise that may not be available in the private sector.
  • Enhanced R&D capabilities: By collaborating with government agencies, private organizations can benefit from their expertise and resources, which can help to enhance their own research and development capabilities.
  • Commercialization opportunities: A successful CRADA project can lead to commercialization opportunities for the private organization, allowing them to bring new products and technologies to market more quickly.
  • Partnership opportunities: CRADAs provide opportunities for businesses, industry, and academic partners to form partnerships with government agencies and other organizations, which can lead to further collaboration in the future.
  • Public recognition: Successful CRADA projects can lead to recognition for the private organization, which can enhance their reputation and credibility in the industry.

Interested in partnering with PSCR? 

If you have collaboration ideas related to public safety Mission Critical Voice (MCV), User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX), Location-Based Services (LBS), Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Security, we invite you to contact us to learn about our programs and opportunities. 

To begin the process, fill out the form below and send it to pscr [at] (pscr[at]nist[dot]gov) or the relevant NIST point of contact with “CRADA” in the subject line.

Are you interested in participating in a CRADA to support public safety technology? 


Important considerations

  • Participants will not receive funding for CRADAs or collaboration opportunities 
  • Products must be within the scope of PSCR work and align with PSCR research priorities
  • Prior to solidifying any formal partnership, PSCR will meet with potential participants to determine if they are a good fit for the program
  • When a potential participant is identified by PSCR, it takes a minimum of six weeks to prepare and finalize a CRADA

What types of CRADAs is PSCR looking for?

PSCR is open to receiving information about a wide variety of CRADA opportunities. Typical research contributions include infrastructure equipment that enable research in the areas of MCV, LBS, UI/UX, UAS, and Security. 

For MCV, some examples include:

  • Participants interested in supporting interoperability research by providing equipment to PSCR’s lab
  • Opportunities to utilize mission critical services clients to test new functionalities in existing test platforms

For LBS, some examples include:

  • Researchers interested in seeing how their technology performs at the Public Safety Immersive Test Center
  • Public safety members interested in having lidar scans conducted in their buildings. This can provide PSCR a better understanding of public safety needs and how lidar scans be used to enable first responders to leverage this novel technology more effectively

For UAS, some examples include:

  • Equipment loan, cooperative research, or data collection of sensors, such as mapping technology (e.g., lidar scanning, high-definition video), integrated or equipped on a UAS for indoor situational awareness and autonomous navigation. Measurement testing that of real-time or near real-time mapping of an indoor environment including object detection such as obstacles, damaged structure, people, and points of interest

  • Flight or non-flight testing of UAS components or payloads using either indoor or outdoor test labs

Parties with ideas that align with these examples listed above are encouraged to reach out to PSCR.

Examples of PSCR’s past collaboration opportunities

Evaluation of interoperability of LTE

From 2010 to 2014, PSCR led a consortium to evaluate interoperability issues and the state of the art of LTE systems, components, applications, and services, and the applicability to the needs of public safety agencies. PSCR used CRADAs to help evaluate the ability of new technologies to augment existing LTE system capabilities, as well as various communication technologies, to enhance public safety capabilities. The collaboration stimulated and addressed various systems related to 700 MHz Public Safety Broadband network issues identified by PSCR, its stakeholders, and its sponsors. 

PSCR's efforts culminated in 2015 when public safety broadband industry members were invited to participate in the PSCR Stakeholder Participation in the Demonstration Network with their products after consideration of eligibility. The network had over 75 executed CRADAs with multiple companies. Companies who executed CRADAs had access to detailed PSCR test procedures and worked with PSCR in refining those procedures in future updates of the test plan.

Other topics related to collaboration

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Created February 9, 2023, Updated February 13, 2023