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Blog Category: DHS

Commerce's NIST Tests Help Ensure Reliable Wireless Alarm Beacons for First Responders

NIST engineer Kate Remley holds two Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) devices with wireless alarm capability. Photo copyright: Paul Trantow/Altitude Arts

Wireless emergency safety equipment could save lives—if signals are transmitted reliably. But few performance standards exist. Now, tests at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are helping to ensure that alarm beacons for firefighters and other emergency responders will operate reliably in the presence of other wireless devices.

NIST is providing technical support for industry consensus standards by developing test methods to evaluate how well these devices work under realistic conditions. The latest NIST study focused on interference between Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) with wireless alarm capability, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems. The methods developed in the study can test interference in other wireless devices such as radios, hands-free cell phone headsets, local area networks, and urban search and rescue robots.  |  Read the full NIST "Tech Beat" story

Working with the Private-Sector to Enhance Cybersecurity

Howard Schmidt, Philip Reitinger, Dr. Patrick Gallagher

NIST Director Patrick Gallagher joined White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt, Philip Reitinger of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Michael Kaiser of the National Cyber Security Alliance at the RSA Conference in San Francisco this week to discuss the need for increased public-private collaboration in cybersecurity

Engaging an audience of several hundred people, the panel highlighted the value of cybersecurity education and discussed ways to increase government-industry collaboration in the face of increasingly sophisticated threats in cyberspace.

Collaboration "is critical to winning the future," Schmidt said. "From everyday users to specialists who tackle our most challenging questions, the goal is to get everyone pulling in the same direction."

The panel also addressed a new Obama administration initiative to make the online environment more secure and convenient – the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. To be led by the private sector with coordination by the Commerce Department, the effort aims to develop voluntary identity credentials that limit the amount of personal information consumers must share online. Consumers could use the credential – a smart card, digital software certificate in their cell phone or other technology – to prove their identity for sensitive online transactions like banking or checking health care records. For surfing the Web, blogging, or other activities, they could remain anonymous.

"At NIST, just about every activity is done in conjunction with the private sector," Gallagher said. "It is the way we do business."