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UTA Awarded $500,000 to Develop Unique Wireless Communications for Arlington Police

March 18, 2004

Researchers in the University of Texas at Arlington have received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to develop a unique wireless communications system for the Arlington Police Department. The system is expected to include wearable multimedia devices for police to transmit live video and audio while on patrol.

The project is aimed at boosting law enforcement effectiveness by providing police with multi-way communications for sending and receiving live video, audio and text messaging across the department wherever police may be, producing ubiquitous communications for police operations. For example, an Arlington police officer, using a small wearable camera attached to his clothing, could transmit live video of a crime in progress or surveillance activities to police department’s central command and other police officers. Plans call for the system also to provide multi-way video conferencing among police officers.

The planned system, which is being developed through UTA’s Computer Science and Engineering Department, calls for video cameras in police cars to provide live transmission of police stops of other vehicles and pedestrians, and for sharing other visual information with police central command. Most police cars are now equipped with video cameras to record police stops, but the video is taped and not transmitted live.

“Our intent is to provide real-time, anywhere and everywhere communications to serve police,” said Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, a computer science and engineering professor and lead investigator on the project. “We want to go one generation ahead of ‘Star Trek’ and provide not just audio but live video to create a fully pervasive communications system,” said Dr. Ahmad.

UTA researchers will use audio-video signal compression, wireless mobile communications, sensor networks and other leading-edge technology to develop the communications system. Researchers plan to use the police department’s existing communications network and other wireless networks for transmitting information, plus use a secure connection to send information over the Internet.

The research grant was provided under a provision for boosting public security through the Department of Justice. This grant is in addition to $3.1 million in research funding already received in fiscal 2004 by the Computer Science and Engineering Department, which for the past two years has received more money in new research projects than any other UTA academic department. The department has more than $6 million in active research projects.

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