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NIST and NTIA Seek Industry Partners for Public Safety Communications Test Bed

firefighter on a phone
Credit: ©Lakeview Images/Shutterstock

The Commerce Department's Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program is signing up a new round of industry collaborators for the test bed used to evaluate advanced broadband equipment and software for emergency first responders.

So far, 39 telecommunications companies have signed new, five-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) to participate in the test bed program, according to Dereck Orr of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The PSCR is a joint effort of NIST and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The test bed, the Public Safety Broadband Demonstration Network, has been operating at the Commerce Department's Boulder Laboratories for more than five years. It is part of the PSCR's effort to provide objective technical support—research, development, testing and evaluation—to foster nationwide interoperability in public safety communications.

Based in part on test bed evaluations to date, the PSCR has worked with industry organizations to get public safety requirements included in next-generation (LTE) communications standards, and contributed data to support standards for The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority created to establish, operate and maintain an interoperable public safety broadband network.

The current version of the PSCR demonstration network was developed with equipment and support from more than 70 vendors. The network has begun testing new equipment and software capabilities such as how to best identify priority users and enable them to take over bandwidth from other network users in emergencies, Orr says.

Vendors and other telecommunications companies wishing to become CRADA partners on the demonstration network project may contact Dereck Orr at (303) 497-5400, or dereck.orr [at] (dereck[dot]orr[at]nist[dot]gov). Partners may participate in many ways such as donating equipment, providing access to infrastructure or supporting tests.

Released July 14, 2015, Updated January 23, 2023