Bridging Research & Interoperability Collaboration (BRIC)
The Bridging Research and Interoperability Collaboration (BRIC) is an advanced technology initiative focused on systematic exploration of the broad range of ever-evolving public safety technologies and practices. The BRIC platform enables researchers and practitioners to examine methods to integrate the full breadth of public safety solutions so they work together and provide realistic and applied support in complex multi-faced public safety scenarios. Our goals go beyond the immediate objective of linking systems together and include building intelligent frameworks that can analyze, consolidate, and visualize information to support operational decisions and policy development.
The BRIC is part of the Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety (CCJS), a Type 1 Rresearch Centre based in the University of Regina. We aim to achieve our objectives through the following activities:
- Technology testing, evaluation, and benchmarking.
- Test-bed development for research, evaluation, scenario examination, and hosting exercises.
- Evaluation of public-safety networks security and integrity.
- Research on applied public-safety computing challenges.
- Research and development on hardware interoperability challenges.
- Developing technology solutions to chronic technology problems within the public-safety domain.
- Certified training and education.
The Canadian government recently dedicated new broadband radio spectrum for use by the public safety community in the old UHF television band (700MHz). The excellent propagation properties of this frequency band will enable a national mobile broadband communications network that will allow various public safety agencies to better plan, coordinate, and execute their missions in their day-to-day operations and when responding to crisis events. New technologies are emerging that will enhance situational awareness, improve coordination between operational groups and enhance responder and public safety. There is a pressing requirement for testing, validation and research to assist manufacturers and public safety stakeholders to develop the governance, standard operating procedures, technologies, training and best practices to assist in the building and operation of this new network.
The largest and most advanced public safety broadband network and test-bed in Canada is being established here at BRIC
The Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification), and Dr. Thomas Chase, Provost and Vice-President (Academic) University of Regina have announced $2.3 million in funding to establish the Public Safety Interoperability Platform (PSIP) at the University of Regina’s Bridging Research and Interoperability Collaboration (BRIC).
The funding will be used to purchase and install equipment and specialized software to develop the PSIP, which our public safety agencies can freely use to improve public safety and emergency response across Canada.
“Although there have been many innovations in public safety in recent years it has not included an efficient and effective interoperable platform that allows devices and applications developed in isolation to communicate with each other,” says Dr. Yasser Morgan, Associate Professor, Faculty of Engineering and principal researcher with BRIC. “We want to help emergency responders talk to and share critical information with each other allowing them to make informed decisions that complement their existing processes.”
“In Canada there is a great deal of innovation in public safety. In recent years the development of hybrid clouds, smart routing and intelligent broadband is enabling researchers and entrepreneurs to create new technologies and applications that make life safer for everyone. BRIC will allow regional small- and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) to work with their local responders and develop solutions using a common tool kit,” says Dr. Yasser Morgan, Associate Professor, Faculty of Engineering and principal researcher with BRIC.
The PSIP will provide a testbed for SMEs where researchers can develop and try out novel technologies for the public safety wireless broadband market. The testbed is designed to reduce research time and development costs for these businesses and provide independent certification allowing them to commercialize their technologies nationally and internationally.
“This federal funding allows us to think big, aiming at positioning an architectural framework that will change the public safety sector nationally and internationally,” says Dr. Morgan. “The University of Regina’s new strategic plan to invest in building capacity in the area of public safety and the digital future could not have come at a better time to support regional SME’s use of these advanced tools.”
For an extended interview with Dr. Morgan regarding this project, click here.
Canadian NG-911 Contingency Test-bed
The Canadian NG-911 Contingency Test-bed (CNCT) aims to
- simplify the deployment of NG-911 systems by evaluating real scenarios
- to improve performance and cost-effectiveness through innovation, enabling procurement savings through economies of scale
- to develop and evaluate operational approaches to NG-911 on technical and governance levels
- to utilize and analyze the meta-data to qualify and correlate incident data
The developed test bed will be evaluated in partnership with the PSAP responder community and through exercises.
Currently there is no test facility in Canada to support the development and implementation of NG-911. There is a need to increase the number of pilot facilities in order to evaluate situations like evacuating a sports stadium, responding to wide-spread power failure, or responding to major events in order to cover wider varieties of NG-911 responding patterns. Increasing the number of piloted facilities is essential to retire the risk of focusing on fewer communication patterns.
The key success factor in CNCT is in developing a test-bed that will enable testing, development, training, and exercises in a controlled but realistic environment. The objective is to develop both technical solutions and operational practices to enable individual agencies to utilize the NG-911 and link it to advanced tools relevant to the agency's requirements.
Public Safety Interoperability Platform
The Public Safety Interoperability Platform (PSIP) is a necessity moving forward in public safety in the 21st century. Canadian public safety and security personnel need completely interoperable communications networks which leverage current and emerging hardware, software, analytical tools, and end-user applications to enable continuous, real-time, in-field access to critical information.
The current primary communications tools used by Canadian public safety groups are mobile radio systems which don't support interoperability. Also, current networks were created to fit particular applications, but were not designed to be interoperable. Broadband is an excellent avenue for solutions, but brings with it further challenges of managing data, assessing data, and training users in new techniques.
With the development of a comprehensive team and national collaboration, resources can be focused on priorities with the work performed once and well. This project will facilitate knowledge management and collaboration by grouping relevant stakeholders and encouraging the exchange of ideas and innovation by providing an advanced collaborative workspace. A set of operational requrements, procedures, test plans, and evaluations to be used in the design and implementation of the network will resulrt from this work.
Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) for Emergency Management and Public Safety
RPAS (drone) technology is advancing rapidly, and members of the Public Safety community have been some of the early adopters. This technology has potential for many uses in the fields of Public Safety and Emergency Management. In summer 2015, the CCJS hosted a two-day conference for interested stakeholders to discuss current use, possible future uses, barriers to full use, and pathways to achieve desired uses. The conference brought together people from across the country involved in the areas of policing, fire, and emergency management. Current users discussed their successes and challenges, and those not currently able to use the technology learned from those who have already navigated their way through regulations. All those in attendance wished to continue to collaborate, coordinate efforts and continue to explore uses for the technology.
As a result of this conference, a ground-breaking document has been produced for the Public Safety community, detailing the procedings of the conference, and areas for future work. This document can be found here: RPAS for EM and PS Strategy and Action Plan
A recent article in Frontline Safety & Security deals with the issue of RPAS technology in the Public Safety sector. Please click here to view that article.
In this interview between Kevin Wennekes, CATAAlliane's Chief Business Officer, and University of Regina's Dr. Yasser Morgan, principal investigator for BRIC, viewers will learn more about how the recent funding will be used to connect the SME (Small & Medium Enterprise) and public safety communities by providing a "sand box" environment to test and evaluate their applications, sharing research and knowledge, and showcase innovative products and techniques.
CATAAlliance's Chief Business Officer, Kevin Wennekes, interviews BRIC collaborator Prithu Prakash, Director Business Development, Public Safety & Security for General Dynamics Canada. The discussion includes General Dynamic's interest in BRIC, and Mr. Prakash's personal involvement as Co-Chair on the federal government's Technology Advisory Group: Security & Operations for the advancement of the public safety broadband network.