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Clear talk for first responders

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Charles Janow
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For first responders, such as firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians, a successful outcome to a mission--and perhaps the difference between life and death for them and those they are helping--depends on their communications system.

Recognizing this critical need, first responders and emergency management officials have been calling for high-speed, LTE (Long-Term Evolution) cellular devices with three public safety "mission-critical voice" capabilities: "push-to-talk" for an immediate connection, "one-to-many" allowing an individual to broadcast to a large group, and "direct mode" that maintains a walkie-talkie connection when a wireless network is down, blocked or otherwise unavailable.

There's just one catch: a device that employs all of these desired features doesn't yet exist.

And without a working device to scientifically evaluate in different emergency situations, it hasn't been easy to design the standards that will optimize its performance.

The NIST tool uses ns-3, an open-source network simulation software, giving researchers the ability to virtually recreate any emergency scenario and draw upon a variety of environmental, structural, technological and human behavioral factors that could impact the performance of future LTE cellular devices.

Models produced by the NIST tool address performance issues such as:

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Charles Janow
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