OSWEGO – A new summer student project at the New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation in Rome culminated here recently in the successful demonstration of technology that could solve radio communications problems for emergency responders across New York State.
Kyle Waldeck and Alan Street are engineering students from SUNYIT in Utica who spent the summer working as interns in collaboration with communications engineers from consulting firm NYSTEC. The interns were given hands-on responsibilities to help develop a software bridge that enables clear voice communications between dissimilar radio systems.
During the recent demonstration in Oswego, the interns successfully employed the software bridge to communicate via VHF/FM radio with Oswego County’s public safety radio system, which consists of Project 25 radio technology.
“I’m very pleased with the success of today’s demonstration,” said NYSTEC President and CEO Mike Walsh. “I’m even more pleased that the first year of our internship program has been such a success.”
“The program has enabled a couple of outstanding college students to work with advanced technology and with experienced engineers. Kyle and Alan now have a better grasp of how their schooling can translate to a career in engineering. Plus, they’ve played key roles in developing a prototype technology that could prove tremendously beneficial to public safety agencies across New York State. I’d especially like to thank Mike Allen, Oswego County E-911 Director, and Oswego County for allowing us to test this technology with the county’s public safety radio system.”
Allen said Oswego County is very interested in partnering with NYSTEC and other counties to develop cost-effective solutions in emergency communications for public safety users.
“Oswego County doesn’t currently have the capability to interconnect public safety users on cellular phones with our radio network,” said Allen. “Statewide, there is a recognized need for this type of capability.”
Representatives from the New York State Police and several other counties in Central New York attended the demonstration.
Public safety communications problems have been in the news since the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks when, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, emergency responders from various departments in New York City were unable to communicate using different radio systems. During the 13 years since the attacks, federal and state governments have explored various solutions to public safety interoperability problems, which exist nationwide. In New York State, local emergency responders and state agencies currently use various types of radio systems, many of which cannot communicate with other systems. NYSTEC has more than 10 years of experience helping government entities solve their interoperability problems.
“Because the technology the guys demonstrated today is based on open-source software, it could provide a low-cost and very adaptable solution to interoperability problems across New York State,” said Walsh. “The software is free, it runs over standard hardware, and the solution is very adaptable. Down the road we would like to boost the bridge so it could eventually accommodate the transmission of video and data as well as voice communications.”
The project has involved the adaptation of open-source GnuRadio software. While current commercial technologies for bridging disparate communications systems require that the hardware be moved to an incident area, NYSTEC’s prototype solution could be installed in current infrastructure for emergency communications and activated remotely when needed.
The interns are very pleased with how their summer has gone. SUNYIT senior Waldeck commented, “The program has been a great opportunity to utilize knowledge I’ve gained through my coursework and develop new skills that will help me in future classes.”
Street, a junior at SUNYIT, echoed those sentiments, adding that he is eager to see how the project will benefit emergency responders and communities statewide.
“The program has been a terrific summertime experience for Kyle and Alan, and we hope to continue it for other students in future years,” added Walsh. “Technology-focused organizations like NYSTEC are always looking for talented engineers, so our chief goal is motivate students so they’ll continue to pursue engineering careers.”
NYSTEC plans to involve future interns in a variety of other projects focused on technology and research. Interns in the program are paid for their work. Eligible students must be strong academic achievers who major in electrical engineering or computer science and are currently enrolled in an accredited college or university at the freshmen through graduate levels.
NYSTEC is a not-for-profit company that helps government and institutional clients plan and manage the acquisition, implementation, upgrade and security of information technology systems. Headquartered in Rome, NYSTEC also has offices in Albany and New York City. The company currently has 85 employees.