RaCERS Director, Senior Fellow Team with Columbia University to Research Land Mobile Radio

The Regenhard Center has teamed with Columbia University in a pathbreaking project to understand how quality of radio service impacts first responder operations. The use of land mobile radios (the backbone of first responder communications) is ubiquitous. As technology advances, use of broadband and potentially more powerful tools is the next frontier in public safety communications. While these tools, which can utilize rich data to supplement voice communication, are coming into use, there is little guidance on quality of service as it relates to current radio technologies. Working with Columbia University, Dr. Jennings and his colleague Dr. Norman Groner (Professor Emeritus, SFEM) will be helping to design and implement experiments to measure the relationship between quality of service and end users’ quality of experience – their ability to comprehend communications and “get the job done.”

The project was awarded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Public Safety Communication Research (PSCR) division. The PSCR division is the primary federal laboratory conducting research, development, testing, and evaluation for public safety communications technologies. It is housed within the Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It addresses the research and development (R&D) necessary for critical features identified by public safety entities beyond the current generation of broadband technology.
The $1 million dollar-plus effort is being led by Columbia University’s Departments of Computer Science and Engineering, led by PI Prof. Henning Schulzrinne, and Assoc. Prof. Daniel Rubenstein (Computer Science).

Working through the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies (RaCERS), Jennings and Groner will work with their Columbia University collaborators to provide assistance in defining and modeling realistic first responder communications. RaCERS will also leverage their contacts in public safety agencies to convene a panel to provide input through the course of the project.
“It is somewhat ironic, and satisfying that we would be working on this ambitious project, so critical to national first responders, as our Center was founded directly from New York’s experience on 9/11,” said Charles Jennings. “It is also gratifying to be teamed with Columbia University’s Department of Computer Science, who have world-class capability and distinguished collaborators,” he added.

The team began work over the summer, and have already demonstrated a prototype test apparatus at an annual meeting of public safety broadband users and developers in Chicago. Automated lab testing will begin this Fall, leading to use of human test subjects in years 2 and 3.

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