Center for Justice Leadership and Management
George Mason University

Operational Testing and Evaluation of Prototype Multi-Band Radios

The Center for Justice Leadership and Management is supporting the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Command, Control and Interoperability Division’s Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) in conducting operational testing and assessment of a multi-band radio (MBR) developed under a $6.275 million contract to Thales Communications Inc. The objective is to develop a radio that will enable emergency responders to communicate with partner agencies—regardless of the radio band.  Currently, radios operate within a specific frequency band—with no one radio able to tune to channels within every public safety frequency band. Consequently, emergency response agencies and support units that operate in different radio frequency bands often cannot communicate with each other. The multi-band radio project addresses this capability gap by demonstrating a single radio that operates on all public safety radio bands.

 

Field operational testing and assessment will be conducted at several locations throughout the United States and Canada. The first major demonstration occurred during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Colombia and involved the  Vancouver  BC Transit Police, Blain, WA Police, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, US Customs & Border Protection and various emergency  responders. The objective of the operational field test and assessment is to place multiband radios in the hands of emergency responders and focus on testing the radios’ operation across multiple systems. Users include responders across all disciplines including; incident commanders, battalion fire chiefs, law enforcement tactical commanders, and federal officials who coordinate with local agencies. The key element of the testing process is the feedback from emergency responders who use the equipment under local operational conditions. Specifically, the assessment addresses the following key issues:

  • How, when, and where the devices are used under local operational conditions?
  • Do the devices effectively meet operational needs?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the devices as tested?
  • The impact of the equipment on operational policies and procedures.

The project will help develop a clear picture of the deployment, performance, and impact of the radio. The CJLM report will assist DHS policy makers in their efforts to strengthen communications interoperability among local, tribal, state, federal, and the military. Ultimately the information from this project will help DHS policy makers make an informed decision on the investment of millions of dollars in homeland security communications technology.

One graduate student and one GMU faculty (Turner) and National Domestic Preparedness Coalition emergency responder subject matter experts are working on the project.

A multi-band radio project is currently underway in cooperation with the Washington National Capitol Area Council of Governments. Participants include Montgomery County, MD, Fairfax County, VA, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. Additional Assessments of pilot demonstration projects are scheduled for Phoenix, AZ Boise, ID, Los Angeles, CA Detroit, MI (Customs Border Protection), NY-NJ (US Marshalls Service, Hawaii (Department of Defense), and Nogales, AZ (Southwest Border).

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