Use the latest technology for officer safety.
Tactical Technology in Action
By: Susan Geoghegan
Utilizing the latest technology and advanced training, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are called upon to defuse high-risk scenarios, such as hostage situations, narcotics raids, and anti-terrorism operations. State-of-the-art technologies that include indoor location systems, unmanned ground vehicles, and K-9 and helmet-mounted camera systems provide the tools needed to bring mission-critical situations to a successful resolution.
Motorola Solutions is a leading provider of innovative mission-critical communications solutions and services for government agencies and business enterprise. In November 2012 the company, through its strategic investment arm, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, announced its investment in TRX Systems Inc.
The purpose of the venture was to fund integration of the TRX Indoor Location system with Motorola radios to expand industrial and commercial location applications. TRX Systems is the developer of NEON, a tracking system that delivers location-based data on people who are indoors, underground, and in urban areas where GPS is either unavailable or unreliable.
Scheduled for distribution in the third quarter of 2013, TRX NEON Indoor Location System is an application that is compatible with Motorola’s APX portable radios. APX radios wirelessly pair to the TRX NEON tracking unit, sending real-time location information and precise details to incident commanders about personnel movement and activity.
The NEON solution is being made available for event security, training, and other mission-essential applications requiring a highly portable system that can deliver precision indoor location. NEON uses advanced sensor fusion, ranging, and mapping algorithms to augment GPS, Wi-Fi, and other fixed references in buildings. The system provides real-time 2D and 3D location, dynamic mapping, clear views of activity and status, and logging capability.
“The TRX NEON Indoor Location System used on Motorola Solutions APX radios is the most advanced mission-critical application available for public safety users,” said Steve Gorecki, Senior Manager of Media Relations at Motorola. “The seamless integration of the TRX NEON and Motorola Solutions APX radio, complemented by the portability of the combined solution, enables rapid deployment of tracking for personnel operating indoors and in dense urban areas where GPS signals are unavailable or unreliable.”
NEON is available in a Mission Essential implementation for security, public safety, and defense applications that delivers indoor location in a robust form factor and includes Command Software to visualize personnel outfitted with custom-built NEON Tracking Units as they operate indoors. On-scene configuration tools that include easy building rendering, rapidly deployable Multi-Sensor Anchor Nodes, Near-Field Check-In Tags, Waypoints, and floor plan information may be used in fixed site applications to enhance precision.
The TRX NEON System has been developed with the support of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security S&T, the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, the US Army, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
A leader in innovative global security solutions and commercial customers worldwide, Northrop Grumman provides capabilities that include unmanned systems, cyber-security, C4ISR, and logistics. The company’s mission is to be at the forefront of technology and innovation, delivering superior solutions with maximized cost efficiencies. In December 2012, Northrop Grumman began deliveries of Titus™, the newest and smallest of its Andros™ line of unmanned ground vehicles.
Built with the proven four-articulator design that has made the Andros line of vehicles so successful, Titus weighs 135 pounds and measures 27 inches long, 16 inches wide, and 23 inches high. Titus represents the next-generation Andros and features a unique operator control unit with a hybrid touchscreen and game system-style physical controls.
Mike Knopp, Director of Northrop Grumman Remotec, said the company challenged their engineers “to not only retain certain Andros capabilities, but to introduce a host of advanced features to meet the next generation of users and their ever-changing missions. They responded with a small UGV that was mechanically brilliant and reimagined the entire user experience,” Knopp said.
The Andros operating system provides much greater information to the operator while easing user workload through more interactivity with intelligent payloads such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear sensors. In addition, preset arm positions and the ability to “fly the gripper,” makes manipulation of objects much easier. Built using a modular design approach, the robot can be readily adapted for a variety of mission scenarios.
Featuring removable articulators, wheels and tracks, Titus provides users with the capability to navigate passageways that are only 16 inches wide or race down range to address a threat at a top speed of 7.5 mph. Industry standard interfaces, such as USB and Ethernet, make Titus easier to maintain and upgrade and to incorporate payloads and sensors.
“Working closely with users, Northrop Grumman Remotec designed Titus to be an extension of the bomb tech or SWAT operator, so the operator can focus on the mission and not the robot. We’ve changed the operator control unit to an intuitive touchscreen with physical controls similar to a gaming system, added more sensors and cameras on target for increased situational awareness, plus automated functions where we can.”
Knopp said special attention was given to reducing life cycle costs by providing advanced diagnostics for improved maintenance, and easily upgradeable features and accessory integration.
Founded in 1999, Tactical Electronics (TE) provides law enforcement and military professionals with the technology and training needed to excel in real-world challenges. Their product line includes tactical camera systems, EOD equipment, inspection tools, K-9 Systems, and Officer Worn Video.
The four internal divisions within the company—TE Products, TE Training, TE Research and Development, and TE Aviation—work together to deliver innovative solutions to their military and law enforcement clients.
Tactical Electronics’ HCT3 Helmet Camera is an officer-worn camera system exclusively designed for direct recording and archiving of training scenarios and live operations. Durable and lightweight, it can easily be mounted to the helmet of the operator via a Velcro attachment or a rail mount, and provides up to four hours of AV recording.
The unit incorporates an internal mini-DVR designed to record real-time audio and video directly to a high-capacity SD card for post-operation review and archiving. The camera is a Sony ex-view CCD with a 3.6 MM precision microlens, a 92-degree field of view, and 600 lines of resolution. This low-light black/white camera features four high/low-intensity IR LEDs for enhanced camera vision in low ambient environments.
Heath Arning, Inside Sales for Tactical Electronics and a former Broken Arrow SWAT Captain, is very familiar with how this type of technology is used in the field. “The Helmet Camera incorporates both SD record capability and operation in low-light environments and provides the benefits of after-action review, training/operation de-briefs, and evidentiary value.
Misconduct and excessive force claims can often be exonerated with the aid of a recording device. The Tactical Electronics’ HCT3 Helmet Camera not only provides the advantages of video recording but is rugged enough to withstand the rigors of Tactical Operations,” Arning said.
For Canine Units, Tactical Electronics offers two types of K-9 Camera Systems: the back-mounted K-9MC4 and the chest-mounted K-9CMC. The K-9MC4 camera system is mounted directly to the back of the dog and is designed to effectively transmit video back to the handler.
With built-in mini DVRs, video is recorded directly to an SD card for post-operation review and archiving. Light-sensitive cameras and IR flood illuminators provide enhanced wireless vision in low-ambient light environments. The back-mounted K-9MC4 features a Black/White camera head with 420 lines of resolution and a 0.0003 lux low-light performance CCD.
The K-9CMC camera system has many of the same features as the K-9MC4, but provides a different point of view. Mounted to the collar of the dog, it provides a ground-level view that allows the handler to wirelessly view what the K-9 detects on the handheld or wrist-mounted monitor. With continuous recording capability of four + hours, this compact yet resilient camera system is a welcome addition to bomb-detection K-9 teams. Both come with a Storm Case® with precision-cut foam for additional storage protection.
Susan Geoghegan is a freelance writer living in Naples, Fla. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.