The Radio Internet-Protocol Communications Module (RIC-M) developed by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has been licensed to two commercial partners: Christine Wireless, Inc. and Avtec Inc.
In an announcement Tuesday, DHS said, “This new interoperability solution developed by the First Responders Group (FRG) allows response agencies to easily upgrade and reconfigure legacy communications systems at a low cost, potentially extending the life of the technology for decades.”
“FRG’s mission is to work hand-in-hand with first responders—determining their needs, identifying solutions, testing progress and incorporating feedback and then making the technology available for their daily use,” said DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers. “RIC-M is shining example of a collaborative effort that will further assist our partners in public safety communications.”
RIC-M, used by local, state and federal responders, is a low-cost, external, stand-alone interface device that connects radio frequency (RF) system base stations, consoles and other RF equipment – regardless of brand – over the Internet or Private Internet Protocol (IP) network.
“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,” said FRG Program Manager Christine Lee.
RIC-M converts from a commonly used V.24 serial communications protocol to an open-standard Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP). Both encrypted and unencrypted Project 25 (P25) digital communications are supported, and it can also operate with analog communication equipment.
“In the past, legacy systems were not interoperable,” Lee explained. “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.”
Base stations are used by law enforcement, medical and other agency dispatchers to communicate with first responders and agents in the field. Using RIC-M, agencies can easily upgrade and reconfigure legacy systems at a low cost, Lee stressed.
“Since its conception in 2011,” DHS said, “RIC-M has been successfully field tested with various state and federal response agencies,” including Montgomery County, Maryland; Customs and Border Protection; Federal Protective Service; FBI; US Marshals Service; Department of Justice and Department of the Interior Office of Law Enforcement and Security.
The licenses to Christine Wireless Inc. (also RIC-M’s inventor) and Avtec Inc., were awarded through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to manufacture and sell RIC-Ms in commercial markets.
Interested agencies can order the devices from both vendors and will also soon be able to procure the devices via General Services Administration Schedules.