DHS S&T Develops Low-Cost Interoperability Device for Analog, Digital Systems (1/8/15)
Thursday, January 08, 2015 | Comments

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) developed a new low-cost interoperability solution that it said could save the first responder community millions of dollars.

The Radio Internet Protocol Communications Module (RIC-M), used by local, state and federal responders, is a low-cost, external, stand-alone interface device that connects RF system base stations, consoles and other RF equipment — regardless of brand — over the Internet or private IP network. The module converts from a commonly used V.24 serial communications protocol to an open-standard VoIP. Both encrypted and unencrypted Project 25 (P25) digital communications are supported, and the product can also operate with analog communications equipment.

“In the past, legacy systems were not interoperable,” said S&T First Responders Group (FRG) Program Manager Christine 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.”

Law enforcement, medical and other agency dispatchers use base stations to communicate with first responders and agents in the field. Using the RIC-M, agencies can easily upgrade and reconfigure legacy systems for less than $500, Lee said.

“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,” she said.

Since its conception in 2012, RIC-M has been successfully field tested with various state and federal response agencies including Montgomery County, Maryland; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Federal Protective Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the U.S. Marshals Service; the Department of Justice; and the Department of Interior’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security.

“The biggest benefit of the RIC-M is that it will allow agencies to continue to use current stockpile and installed legacy equipment,” said Carter Blumeyer of Rivada Port Graham Solutions, who participated in the fielding as an evaluator. “This legacy equipment is solidly built and still could last more than 10 years from now.”

FRG has submitted patent and trademark applications for RIC-M. The group also worked with the inventor, who recently signed a licensing agreement allowing for RIC-M’s commercialization. This is the first licensing agreement S&T has signed with an inventor. In addition, S&T plans to provide licensing agreements with other vendors to commercialize the RIC-M.

More information on RIC-M is available here.

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