Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ensuring reliable wireless alarm beacons for first responders

Date:
August 18, 2011
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
New tests are helping to ensure that wireless safety equipment such as alarm beacons for firefighters and other emergency responders will operate reliably in the presence of other wireless devices.

NIST engineer Kate Remley holds two Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) devices with wireless alarm capability.
Credit: 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.

PASS devices sense movement and activate an alarm if a firefighter remains motionless for too long. Newer PASS systems also have a wireless link connecting incident command base stations and portable units, allowing emergency recall signals to be sent to firefighters or "firefighter down" alarms to be sent to the base. Because firefighters also may carry RFID tags for location tracking, or may be in warehouses or other buildings using RFID inventory systems, there is potential for significant interference.

"Every wireless device will fail given strong enough interference," says NIST project leader Kate Remley. "The question is the level at which the device fails. Our goal is to develop lab-based test methods to quantify the level of interference at which PASS units fail so we can help ensure they operate reliably."

The NIST research, to be presented at a conference this week,* measured interference between "frequency hopping" PASS and RFID systems operating in similar frequency bands. Results show that, when signals are weak due to environmental or other conditions, a portable PASS unit's receipt of an alarm from its base station can be delayed or fail even without interference, and becomes more likely to fail in the presence of only moderate RFID interference. Strong interference caused longer and variable delays that sometimes exceeded a minute, defined by the researchers as signal failure. NIST researchers also found that an RFID system can be less reliable when the PASS unit is nearby.

The NIST tests involved measuring the total output power of each system in a test chamber and then isolating the systems in different labs for the interference tests. The portable PASS device and RFID tag and reader were placed in a test chamber, while the PASS base station was in a separate room. Researchers evaluated performance at various levels of signal strength and interference.

NIST is working with the National Fire Protection Association, which will consider adopting the NIST tests as part of revised PASS performance standards. An NFPA technical committee on electronic safety equipment will soon consider the wording of a draft standard, and after a public comment period, the standards could be approved by 2013. At that point, manufacturers would need to show that their PASS devices pass the tests.

The research is supported by the Department of Homeland Security.

* K. Remley, M. Souryal, W.F. Young, D. Kuester, D. Novotny and J.R. Guerrieri. Interference tests for 900 MHz frequency-hopping public-safety wireless devices. Presented at the 2011 IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Symposium, Long Beach, Calif., Aug. 17, 2011.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Ensuring reliable wireless alarm beacons for first responders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110817101939.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2011, August 18). Ensuring reliable wireless alarm beacons for first responders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110817101939.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Ensuring reliable wireless alarm beacons for first responders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110817101939.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins