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DHS S&T Licenses Groundbreaking Communications Technology

August 18, 2015 | by John Verrico, DHS Science & Technology Press Office

For Immediate Release
DHS Science & Technology Press Office
Contact: John Verrico, (202) 254-2385

Washington D.C.
– The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) today announced that it has licensed the Radio Internet-Protocol Communications Module (RIC-M) to two commercial partners: Christine Wireless, Inc. and Avtec Inc.

This new interoperability solution developed by the First Responders Group (FRG) allows response agencies to easily upgrade and reconfigure legacy communications systems at a low cost, potentially extending the life of the technology for decades.

“FRG’s mission is to work hand-in-hand with first responders—determining their needs, identifying solutions, testing progress and incorporating feedback, and then making the technology available for their daily use,” said DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers. “RIC-M is shining example of a collaborative effort that will further assist our partners in public safety communications.”

RIC-M, used by local, state and federal responders, is a low-cost, external, stand-alone, interface device that connects radio frequency (RF) system base stations, consoles and other RF equipment – regardless of brand – over the Internet or Private Internet Protocol (IP) network.

“Instead of having to replace an entire system – which can cost as much as $15,000 – when one component breaks or becomes obsolete, organizations can use any RIC-M compatible product to extend the system’s life for another 10 to 20 years,” said FRG Program Manager Christine Lee.

RIC-M converts from a commonly used V.24 serial communications protocol to an open-standard Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP). Both encrypted and unencrypted Project 25 (P25) digital communications are supported, and it can also operate with analog communication equipment.

“In the past, legacy systems were not interoperable,” explained Lee. “If you bought one brand of base station, you had to buy the same brand for the all other components even if other brands offered more economical choices or better options. RIC-M allows first responder organizations to be free from dependence on expensive, single-vendor communication solutions, offering cost savings and wider variety.”

Base stations are used by law enforcement, medical and other agency dispatchers to communicate with first responders and agents in the field. Using RIC-M, agencies can easily upgrade and reconfigure legacy systems at a low cost, Lee stressed.

Since its conception in 2011, RIC-M has been successfully field tested with various state and federal response agencies including Montgomery County, Maryland; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Federal Protective Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior Office of Law Enforcement and Security.

The licenses to Christine Wireless Inc. (also RIC-M’s inventor) and Avtec Inc. were awarded through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to manufacture and sell RIC-Ms in commercial markets. Interested agencies can order the devices from both vendors and will also soon be able to procure the devices via General Services Administration Schedules.

FRG will host live RIC-M demonstrations at the 81st Annual APCO Conference & Expo this month in Washington, D.C. Conference attendees and members of the media are welcome to attend. See below for additional details:

WHO:             Christine Lee, Program Manager, First Responders Group, DHS S&T
                        Richard Brockway, President, Christine Wireless, Inc.
                        Mike Ridge, Director of Partnerships and Alliances, Avtec Inc.

WHAT:           Demonstration of the RIC-M technology (in partnership with the Federal                       Protective Service and U.S. Customs and Border
                      Protection) using multi-vendor communications equipment

WHEN:          August 17, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. EDT
                      August 18, 2015, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m.EDT

WHERE:       Walter E. Washington Convention Center

                    801 Mt. Vernon Place NW, Washington, DC 20001
                    Booth #1915

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