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UT Arlington Secures $265K Grant for Personnel Locator Research

November 7, 2007

The CommTech Program in the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Department of Justice, has awarded researchers in the Computer Science & Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Arlington a $264,879 grant to develop a mesh network based solution to identify and locate strategic personnel within a secure area such as a police headquarters.

Assistant Professor Gergely Zaruba is the principal investigator on the project; he will be assisted by Drs. Manfred Huber and Farhad Kamangar and Mr. David Levine. Titled “PLR: Mesh-networked, Two-way Personnel Locator Radios and Relays,” the project involves the development of a software and hardware system needed to accurately track a number of individuals as they move about an established area.

“As a research exercise, we developed and have a patent pending on a similar solution,” said Dr. Zaruba. “Our efforts for the National Institutes of Justice will build on the earlier work to create the tags identifying essential personnel and the software analyzing the many signals within the network to distinguish specific individuals.”

The “essential personnel” he refers to could include team leaders, directors and other senior officials, police officers and in the second part of the project, first-responders such as emergency medical technicians and search-and-rescue personnel. “This is an important technology to help save lives of our nation’s emergency personnel,” said Dr. Richard Billo, College of Engineering associate dean for research. “For example, if an officer or firefighter becomes trapped in a building, others will know the exact location and will be better prepared to take immediate action.”

Although this grant is for a one-year period, Dr. Zaruba expects an additional one-year extension grant around the same amount to expand the personnel locator network to other NIJ applications.