The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program recently awarded funding to two companies to develop an in-building coverage analysis system (ICAS) that leverages existing first responder radio and smartphone technology to enhance accessibility to wireless service.
“Our first responders are fundamental to protecting our nation and enhancing public safety,” said Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “So, we need to equip them with tools that allow them to effectively respond and communicate during incidents. The ICAS capability will address a critical need to enhance situational awareness for first responders when they go inside buildings.”
Greenbelt, Maryland-based TRX Systems, Inc. received $750,000, and Rolling Meadows, Illinois-based Epiq Solutions, Inc. received $927,202.02 in SBIR Phase II funding to develop an affordable, user-friendly ICAS capability for commonly used first responders network types. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), which administers the SBIR Program, selected the two small businesses to participate in Phase II of the program based on successful demonstration of feasibility in Phase I of their ICAS Using Existing First Responder’s Radio and Smartphone solutions.
“DHS components and first responders rely on two separate networks for additional indoor data services—the land-mobile radio (LMR) and the FirstNet broadband network,” said S&T Program Manager Cuong Luu. “ICAS technology can both acquire and document network signals inside of buildings using both networks, enhancing emergency communications coverage for first responders in a host of building types and locations. This technology will greatly improve the ability for our nation’s first responders to carry out their missions and communicate more effectively.”
In Phase II, TRX Systems will expand on its Phase I efforts to develop a new capability for simultaneous LMR and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) coverage characterization (indoors and underground) that works with existing end-user LMR and FirstNet LTE devices to enable data-gathering. The company will also provide an easy-to-use interface with a 3D building model and signal map visualization.
During its Phase II efforts, Epiq Solutions will continue development on a minimal size, weight, and power (SWAP) ICAS solution that can aggregate, manage, and make data available to all stakeholders, providing first responders the critical tools needed in their communications during incidents.
“From idea to impact, the SBIR program is a way for DHS to reach small businesses and access their technology solutions,” said SBIR Program Director Dusty Lang. “We look forward to working with our Phase II recipients to see how their innovations will lead to increased capabilities for our first responders.”
At the completion of the 24-month Phase II contract, SBIR awardees will have developed prototypes to demonstrate the advancement of technology, spearheading the potential for additional Phase III funding from private sector and/or non-SBIR government sources. The eventual goal: bringing Phase I and II technologies to market.
For more information on S&T’s innovation programs and tools, visit: /science-and-technology/work-with-st.