There will be talk at the Republican National Convention about the nation's readiness for another terrorist attack. But behind the scenes, WNET New York, the public-TV station, will be using the convention as a test site to potentially enhance our security.
The NYPD has encouraged the station to test the system under the real-world, heavy spectrum traffic conditions of the convention. It won't be a live test, however, which is just as well since there are still bugs to be worked out.
The station is trying out its second-generation Smart Nets technology, which holds the promise of improving two-way communications between first responders and their commanders at emergency-operations centers.
"When you put this system together with emergency broadcasts over the DTV spectrum," says Stephen Carrol-Cahnmann, WNET director, digital convergence, "public safety steps into the digital age."
The upcoming tests enhance an earlier round of federally funded tests held in May, with input from the New York police and fire departments.
They used WNET's Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) transmitter at the Empire State Building to send out data to emergency-response teams throughout the city. The results were promising but did reveal problems with the model, thus the new round of testing.