SAN ANTONIO—Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) yesterday announced that $38.5 million in grants have been awarded to fund 33 research-and-development projects that are designed to help determine future possibilities in a variety of first-responder communications technologies.

When PSCR initially unveiled its plans for the Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program, the initial goal was to fund $30 million worth of multi-year research projects—money that was available as part of a $300 million allocation from the proceeds of the FCC’s AWS-3 auction. However, PSCR officials decided to expand the total grant support after reviewing the research proposals submitted by the end of February, according to PSCR Division Chief Dereck Orr.

“We just got that many good applications,” Orr said yesterday during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We got 162 [applications], which far exceeded our expectations—I think we were thinking about 100. We got so many more than we expected, so many of them were really unique and compelling, and we have the money, so we took advantage of the opportunity and funded the ones we thought were compelling.”

According to a press release from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—the parent organization for PSCR—the 162 proposals were submitted by a diverse pool of national and international applicants across industry, academia, and public-safety organizations. The 33 selected projects address the following five key technology areas:

  • Mission Critical Voice (Moving from traditional radios to cellular systems)
  • Location Based Services (Indoor positioning, navigation, and mapping)
  • Public Safety Analytics (Handling and exploiting more data)
  • Research and Prototyping Platforms (Enabling low-cost R&D tools)
  • Resilient Systems (Ensuring systems work in poor conditions)

During opening remarks at the PSCR Stakeholder Meeting, Orr said he was encouraged by the response and the opportunity to use the program to expand dramatically the number of people conducting research in the public-safety-communications arena.

With this in mind, several of the research projects plan to create open-source testing and research tools that will be generally accessible, so it will be easier to expand the community developing potential solutions for first responders, Orr said.

“We really wanted to create some underlying research capabilities that will generate and propagate even more research moving forward,” Orr said. “There’s a dearth of research tools for people to use who are interested in developing applications, services and new capabilities for public-safety systems, because not everybody can go own an LTE network.

“What some of these awardees and grantees are doing is they’re going to create some of the open-source tools where people will be able to simulate having a network and be able to design new applications and services, as well as  innovate in an LTE network and around an LTE network without having the infrastructure. We’re creating this base that only will allow us to do more research on top of that and bring more people in the space of innovating for public safety.”

Representatives from many of the selected projects are presenting their research plans this week during the PSCR Stakeholder Meeting. Additional details may be found on the Public Safety Communications Research website. Below is a table with all awardees, a provided in the NIST press release:



Application Title


Total Amount


Carnegie Mellon University

An Infrastructure-Free Localization System for Firefighters

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



Carnegie Mellon University

Hyper-Reality Helmet for Mapping and Visualizing Public Safety Data

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



Carnegie Mellon University

Real-Time Video Analytics for Situation Awareness

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



Cornell University

Towards an Emergency Edge Supercloud

Ithaca, New York



George Washington University

Coverage, Capacity, and Resilience Enhancement in Limited PSN

Washington, DC



Harris Corporation


Melbourne, Florida



Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Situational Awareness for Emergencies Through Network-Enabled Technologies (SafeT-Net)

Cambridge, Massachusetts



Michigan Technological University

Resilient System Solutions for Data Sharing for Wildland Fire Incident Operations

Houghton, Michigan



Misram LLC dba Spectronn

Heterogeneous Fog Communications and Computing for Resilience

Holmdel, New Jersey



New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness

Fiscal Year 2017 Public Safety Innovation Acceleration Program

Trenton, New Jersey



New York University

End-to-End Research Platform for Public Safety Millimeter Wave Communications

New York, New York



Prominent Edge LLC

StatEngine: A real-time Open Source Data Analytics and Visualization Platform for Public Safety

Nokesville, Virginia



Software Radio Systems Limited

OpenFirst - the open-source LTE software-radio platform for first responders

Cork, Ireland



Sonim Technologies, Inc.

End to End Mission Critical Push to Talk with Direct Mode Operation

San Mateo, California



Southern Methodist University

SAFE-NET: An Integrated Connected Vehicle and Computing Platform for Public Safety Applications

Dallas, Texas



Texas A&M Engineering Experiments Station

DistressNet-NG: Resilient Mobile Broadband Communication and Edge Computing for FirstNet

College Station, Texas



TRX Systems, Inc.

TRX First Responder Location and Mapping Services

Greenbelt, Maryland



Universidad del Pays VascoEuskal Herriko Unibertsitatea

Mission Critical Open Platform (MCOP)

Leioa, Spain



University of California - Irvine

Ultimate Navigation Chip (uNavChip): Chip-Scale Personal Navigation System Integrating Deterministic Localization and Probabilistic Signals of Opportunity

Irvine, California



University of California – Riverside

Modeling and Development of Resilient Communication for First Responders in Disaster Management

Riverside, California



University of Cincinnati

First Responder Indoor Location Using LTE Direct Mode Operations

Cincinnati, Ohio



University of Cincinnati

Information-Driven Video Communication for Public Safety Networks

Cincinnati, Ohio



University of Colorado

SDR LTE Network Testbed and RESPONS

Boulder, Colorado



University of Houston

Multi-tiered Video Analytics for Abnormality Detection and Alerting to Improve Response Time for First Responder Communications and Operations

Houston, Texas



University of Michigan

Body-Worn Camera Analytics (BOCA) in Public Safety

Ann Arbor, Michigan



University of Michigan

Decimeter Accurate, Long Range Non-Line-of-Sight RF Localization Solution for Public Safety Applications

Ann Arbor, Michigan



University of Oxford

Pervasive, Accurate and Reliable Location Based Services for Emergency Responders

Oxford, United Kingdom



University of Southern California

Propagation Channel Models and System Performance for Device-to-Device Communications for Public Safety Applications

Los Angeles, California



University of Virginia

Towards Cognitive Assistant Systems for Emergency Response

Charlottesville, Virginia



University of Washington

Modeling, Simulation and Performance Evaluation for Future Public Safety Networks

Seattle, Washington



Vencore Labs, Inc. dba Applied Communications Science

Device-to-Device System for Public Safety (DDPS)

Basking Ridge, New Jersey



Voxel51 LLC

ETA: Extensible Tools for Analytics in Public Safety

Ann Arbor, Michigan



Western Fire Chiefs Association, Inc.

Creation of a Unified Analysis Framework and the Data Comparison Center

Wilsonville, Oregon