Newswise — In recent times, the Division of Homeland Safety (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has labored along with U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) to enhance situational consciousness at our northern border by establishing enterprise capabilities that give brokers entry to extra information sources, choice assist instruments to translate the info into actionable data and intelligence, and information-sharing sources to allow collaboration with accomplice legislation enforcement businesses.
In summer time 2019, as a part of these ongoing efforts to deal with safety vulnerabilities alongside the U.S./Canadian border, S&T and USBP conducted a field test of airborne and terrestrial tactical surveillance technologies at USBP Havre Sector in Sweetgrass, Montana. The occasion illustrated the potential efficacy from integration of a number of applied sciences to supply moveable situational consciousness capabilities. And this previous June, they returned to Montana for a centered evaluation for the efficiency of 1 such expertise—Somewear’s World Hotspot—in an prolonged operational analysis. The Somewear World Hotspot is an rising cost-effective satellite tv for pc communications (SATCOM) gadget. Somewear, the gadget vendor, was chosen by S&T’s Long-Range Broad Area Announcement (LRBAA) solicitation course of following a preliminary area evaluation of a number of comparable SATCOM gadget distributors out there.
“The main target of S&T’s funding is threefold. First is so as to add safety controls into the already-available business product in order that it may be permitted for transmitting and receiving official DHS information,” mentioned S&T Program Supervisor Shawn McDonald.
“Second is to combine the gadget into current DHS tactical situational consciousness methods to supply communications protection in disparate areas the place lots of our brokers, officers and operators execute their missions on daily basis. And lastly, we included an intensive area check effort to gather actual person suggestions on efficiency, person interface and basic utility throughout six very various operational environments.”
The World Hotspot is being evaluated as an answer to allow low bit-rate information, particularly chat messages and placement information, to be despatched the place no mobile and/or land cell radio (LMR) protection exists. The Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK) app on brokers’ cell units has a “plug-in” that enables it to securely talk wirelessly to the SATCOM gadget and alternate solely chat and placement information, which is then transmitted throughout the SATCOM hyperlink. The small gadget could be worn on an agent’s area pack with out including a lot weight, and has a protracted battery life, a low whole procurement and upkeep value, and a low operational value.
The analysis confirmed promising outcomes, together with optimistic suggestions from customers.
One agent captured the convenience of use in an announcement to S&T, “I’m in all probability the least technical man right here. I simply plug it in, and it really works.” A couple of weeks after the occasion one other agent mentioned, “I simply want extra brokers had this functionality,” noting that the worth could be stronger if she knew different brokers had connectivity off grid as effectively.
The World Hotspot, when paired with the ATAK gadget, improved officer security, situational consciousness and coordination whereas decreasing response occasions. The flexibility to show pleasant drive tracks and conduct tactical chat in austere areas of Montana is a drive multiplier for brokers within the area.
Following the testing with S&T, USBP brokers stationed within the Havre Sector on the northern border continued to area check the World Hotspot and ATAK. Brokers from Malta Station and Scobey Station, additionally in Montana, had been additionally capable of reveal a satellite tv for pc communications hyperlink utilizing the ATAK paired to a World Hotspot. The brokers’ cell gadget plug-in allowed them to speak wirelessly by way of the Iridium NEXT satellite tv for pc constellation and alternate chat and placement information. They had been capable of talk and supply shared situational consciousness at distances over 130 miles in areas the place there was no mobile or land cell radio protection and facilitated shared situational consciousness.
On account of this summer time’s World Hotspot operational assessments, S&T gained helpful agent suggestions on gadget operation, software program and the way finest to ship the important SATCOM capabilities to assist guarantee the protection and effectiveness of brokers within the area in extraordinarily distant areas. Based mostly on the suggestions supplied, S&T and Somewear are making adjustments earlier than launching 5 further operational assessments geographically unfold round the USA—two extra assessments are arising in Washington State and close to San Diego. The aim of choosing these areas, apart from testing of their distinctive terrain, is to check air/land/sea communications between deployed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) items (Air and Marine Operations and USBP).
Shortly after the Havre Sector check occasion, the World Hotspot gadget and ATAK assisted with a real-world incident: an agent’s car broke down, stranding the agent in an space with no mobile or LMR protection. Thankfully, the agent nonetheless had the check gadget and used it to ship a chat message by way of SATCOM to supply his location and request assist from different brokers. One other agent texted again inside 2 minutes that assist was on the best way and supplied an estimated time of arrival since he may see the precise location of the disabled truck.
“In lower than six months this product is displaying large potential to fill a communications hole throughout lots of our DHS parts, and at a price-point that enables for broad deployment,” mentioned McDonald.
This functionality and energy are making a optimistic impression in communities past DHS. Not too long ago, the USA Air Nationwide Guard 131st Rescue Squadron efficiently employed Somewear’s distinctive ATAK integration to coordinate and monitor a civilian rescue operation 1,200 miles off the U.S. Pacific coast. The constant communications and situational consciousness throughout rescue personnel, medical personnel, aircrafts, and the operations middle led to an environment friendly rescue mission that took half of the anticipated time to finish.
“The 2 commonest factors of failure in important incident environments are communications and management,” commented a mission participant from the 131st Rescue Squadron. “From staff leaders 1,200 miles out to sea, to their troop and squadron commanders again at base, the Somewear gadget gave us a communication conduit by which management in any respect ranges may shine by, work together, and make important choices on the most decisive moments. The quantifiable success was a affected person getting evacuated sooner and handed over to advance care sooner as a result of complicated planning and communication had already been achieved by the Somewear units previous to the evacuation.”
For extra details about the Somewear World Hotspot and S&T’s Apex Border Situational Consciousness program, contact SandT.Innovation@hq.dhs.gov. For associated media requests, contact STMedia@hq.dhs.gov.
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