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NIST and federally funded research labs discuss climate and advanced communications technology with U.S. Representative Joe Neguse.

The Communication Technology Laboratory was pleased to take part in the CO-LABS panel discussion with U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (CO CD-2) to hear from several federally-funded research labs in Colorado. The themes for this call are related to 1) research around climate change, extreme weather, and related environmental assessments with relevance to the Biden Administration’s stated climate change policy vision; and 2) advanced digital communications technology research. Click here to listen to the discussion and read Dr. Dowell's remarks below

CTL knows that the resiliency of the American workforce depends on trusted communications systems now, more than ever. That need drove our team to work through the challenges the global pandemic presented to help do our part to drive forward innovation for our economy.   

An example of our perseverance is we just finished building another state-of-the-art facility, the 5G Coexistence Testbed which applies the newest generation end-to-end 5G mm-Wave LTE laboratory.  The techniques and metrology derived from this testbed will have applications in everyday wireless communications, IoT, and 5G networks.    

The National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network or NASCTN is a multi-agency-chartered partnership that organizes a national network of Federal, academic, and commercial test facilities. It provides testing, modeling, and analysis necessary to develop and deploy spectrum-sharing technologies and inform future spectrum policy and regulations. CTL is proud to continue to host NASCTN partners agencies like DoD, NASA, NOAA, NSF, and NTIA to propel measurement science across the government and efficiently share resources.  These partnerships, as well as our own testing projects, have led to a vast arsenal of data ready for Industry and fellow researchers to apply to their projects and innovations.   

Rising to the needs of our nation, our researchers are working with the FDA to the deployment of a simple software update which turns Wi-Fi routers into respiratory monitors that can quickly be integrated into critical communities and which will aid long-term-care facilities to monitor patients at no additional cost.   

And just like everyone else, we figured out how to work differently during the pandemic by modifying and expanding our Spectrum Monitoring Program.  Over 40 GB of initial data has been captured to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on wireless spectrum availability in residential and health care settings. The output of this project helps inform future standards development and captures a real-world scenario industry can consider when testing new devices. The virtual environment allowed us to include college and high school students across Colorado to join in for a summer internship and grow our stem workforce programs.   

Tech to Protect 

Our Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program (PSIAP) puts substantial resources into promoting the development of first responder technologies externally through grants, cooperative agreements, and Open Innovation Prize Challenges.  Check out our Tech to Protect award winners and click here to see current opportunities and direct interested parties to for future grant announcements. 

STEM Workforce Development  

NIST invests directly by partnering with Universities to participate in the grant based Professional Research Experience Program.  In the next 18 months, NIST will issue a Notice of Funding Opportunity announcement for  Universities to participate in the grant based Professional Research Experience Program.  This program is designed to provide valuable laboratory experience and financial assistance to undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty. The program is intended to assure the continued growth and progress of a highly-skilled science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) workforce in the United States.    NIST-PREP | School of Engineering & Applied Sciences ( & The NIST Summer Undergraduate Fellowship Program Goes Virtual | NIST 

Climate Change & Environment  

From monitoring to standards to intentional partnerships, NIST has long-standing programs to support the environment and tackle climate change.  Destination Startup is a collaboration among leading research universities and federal laboratories across the Rocky Mountain region to showcase the best companies from our innovation ecosystem.  At this year’s showcase,  LongPath Technologies will be featured and represents an excellent example of NIST’s crucial role in technology transfer to bring proof of concept to American innovation.  Based on prize-winning dual-comb laser technology from the PML Fiber Sources and Applications Group and CU Boulder, LongPath is attacking the climate change problem of undetected methane emissions from active oil wells by providing the lowest cost highest precision continuous methane monitoring for oil field installations in the world. 

Smart Grid  

Leveraging NIST’s century-long partnership with the electric industry, we are collaborating with our partners to address this generation’s grand challenge—modernizing the electric power grid so that it incorporates information technology to deliver electricity efficiently, reliably, sustainably, and securely NIST is working to bring together Artificial Intelligence and grid monitoring for load forecasting which will help to accelerate the addition of renewables to the electrical grid.   

Device Security and Internet of Things (IoT):  

Revolutionizing the American economy comes from advancements in communication networks that enable a fully-connected world through millions of devices providing on-demand access to data, systems, and each other. We must be able to trust the privacy, security, authenticity, and reliability of these devices, as well as the advanced networks that support them as we continue to realize the full economic potential of real-time access to data and systems.  

NIST is working with a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders to define both the cybersecurity standards for 5g hardware and to secure the supply chain through developing technology that can detect corrupted hardware before it is put in use.  NIST is currently developing strong standards to secure software from compromised by external threats. You can learn more about NIST’s work in cybersecurity standards here.  In addition, our NIST team is working to ensure that the hardware systems are free of counterfeit components which may include unknown quality or vulnerabilities, as well as security-compromising components added at some point after design to allow malicious access to a system.  This work is just getting underway and we would welcome the opportunity to provide a follow-up briefing in more detail as we proceed.  


There is a need for neutral evaluation of 5g by NASCTN to address concerns raised by the weather forecasting community about potential spectrum collisions in the 24GHz band resulting from the deployment of commercial 5G networks at these frequencies. Click here to read more about Spectrum Frontiers in 24 GHz and 28GHz



Released February 9, 2021