Funding Boosted for Crisis Communications Project

Next Step: A Prototype Device That Can Be Used by Emergency Responders

Oct. 30, 2009

UT Dallas researchers have received a big funding boost for their work on technology to enhance communication among emergency response personnel, bringing total support for the project to $1.14 million.

The wireless technology under development will enable emergency workers to jump from one communications protocol to another, allowing first responders to communicate over commercial, military and emergency channels using a single cell phone or other communications device.

By streamlining communications during crises, the software-defined radio technology could play an important part in saving lives, researchers say.

“One of the key objectives here is to bring to market the radio solution that was proposed in the previous phases of the research,” said Dr. Kamran Kiasaleh, principal investigator for the project, noting that in engineering terms a cell phone is simply a two-way radio. “One key objective of this phase of our research and development is to seek commercialization of the technology, which will result in the creation of high-tech jobs in this emerging field.”

The resulting economic benefits are in fact one requirement of the federal funding agreement, which falls under the American Recovery Act of 2009.

Software-defined radio has been discussed for almost 20 years, but only with the latest developments in digital processing has it become achievable, according to researchers at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas. Software-defined radio is expected to, in turn, pave the way for what’s known as cognitive radio, a technology in which cell phones and other devices will automatically search for and use whatever part of the communications spectrum is available.

The work is also expected to ultimately enable people to roam the world without worrying about whether their cell phones are compatible with this or that communications standard.

The Justice Department contract began in September 2006. Based on the researchers’ progress, it’s now been extended through August 2010 with nearly $460,000 in added funding. Kiasaleh and two other UT Dallas researchers – Dr. Poras Balsara and Dr. Dinesh Bhatia – are working closely with Texas Instruments on the project. All three of the researchers are professors of electrical engineering.


Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Grad Student Allen Webb

Graduate student Allen Webb works on a prototype of the software-defined radio technology under development. Other students on the research team are Essam Atalla, Ali Montazeri, Gaurav Sureka, Arezoo Modiri, Zhengjie Liu, Xiaojiang Tian and Imran Bashir.

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