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Research Center Will Help First Responders Save Lives Through NextGen TV & Other New Tech

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, 2/20/2019 — UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina announces a groundbreaking partnership with the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NC DIT) and the Wireless Research Center of North Carolina (WRC) that will develop and operate a public safety research center. This breakthrough center will be tasked with developing and testing new products and services for first responders, beginning with innovative applications for ATSC 3.0/Next Gen TV to improve public safety response.

This new partnership consists of UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina and its Chief Technology Officer Fred Engel, focusing on strategy, operations, technical talent and training; the NC DIT and its Director of the First Responder Emerging Technologies Program Red Grasso, focusing on public safety initiatives and government interactions; and WRC and its President and CEO Gerard (Gerry) Hayes, PhD, focusing on research design, execution and data science.

“Information is the backbone of everything that we do,” said Grasso. “To put it simply, public safety organizations can save more lives if they can communicate faster, make their information more accurate, and increase the reliability and reach of their networks. As a former firefighter and as a current technologist working in public safety, I am extremely excited and optimistic that Next Gen TV may help with all three of these areas. I am thrilled to continue to work with UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina on exploring how we can bring this technology to the state and potentially to other public safety organizations throughout the country.”

The collaborating parties believe that the new broadcast standard, ATSC 3.0, more commonly referred to as Next Gen TV, provides a valuable opportunity to enhance the lives, safety and futures of all North Carolinians. Specifically, this new technology can assist public safety organizations throughout North Carolina in their efforts to secure and protect the well-being of its citizens. The Public Safety Research Center’s mission will be to evaluate and analyze these potential applications and work with organizations and individuals to bring them to life. While the center is expected to focus initially on Next Gen TV applications, it will have the ability to expand and work with future communication and broadcast technologies.

“UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina is excited to be a part of the pioneering work utilizing ATSC 3.0 as a potential platform for public safety communications,” said Engel. “With UNC-TV’s vast statewide broadcast network we can leverage this future technology well beyond television programming and include critical messaging that can save lives.”

In its first year, the center is expected to operate out of the WRC, a world-class testing and research facility located in Wake Forest. Initial funding will target acquiring and operating equipment for supporting and expanding research on the application and utility of Next Gen TV technology to emergency responder communication devices. As a multiuse, multipurpose research center and laboratory, the center will serve as a hub for technological innovation focused on public safety. It will be designed as an environment for Next Gen TV exploration, training and testing which will provide access, resources and expertise to various state and national organizations and agencies, including commercial and non-commercial broadcasters, technologists, and entrepreneurs working in and with the public safety industry. The center is also planned to serve as an economic development force providing job creation and market growth.

Analyses and publications from the center, along with resulting goods and services introduced to the market, will be a major factor in safeguarding the welfare and property of state citizens. The goal of this research and its publication is to incentivize current manufacturers producing these devices to increase their production and to catalyze new companies to participate in this market.

To provide a scientific method of research and confirmation, the center will utilize state of the art radio frequency “quiet rooms,” as well as laboratory quality test equipment to test and measure the transmission and reception capability of Next Gen TV for an array of potential devices for first responders. Standards will be developed to use the technology following initial proof of concept validation. The center will likely become the testing ground for various manufacturer products.

“Hosting this exciting research is an ideal collaboration aligned with our mission of advancing wireless technology through research, discovery and innovation for commercial, government and academic partners,” Hayes said. “This partnership with broadcasters, technologists and entrepreneurs can enhance lives and safety with more rapid, more accurate and more detailed communications.”

About the NC Department of Information Technology & First Responder Emerging Technologies Program
The NC Department of Information Technology (DIT) is the leading provider of IT services to state agencies, local governments, and educational institutions across North Carolina. Services include hosting, network, telecommunications, desktop computing and unified communications, including email and calendaring. DIT also offers 24/7 support through its ITIL®-trained Service Desk and IT Service Support teams. The First Responder Emerging Technologies Program focuses on non-discipline specific technology and works collaboratively with members from NC Emergency Management, NC Office of State Fire Marshal, NC Office of EMS, NC State Highway Patrol, NC Forest Service, NC 911 Board, NC State Bureau of Investigation and other first responder entities within state and local government. For more information, visit

About Wireless Research Center of North Carolina
The Wireless Research Center of North Carolina (WRC) is a non-profit organization supporting clients globally with engineering services and testing for wireless technologies. Headquartered in Wake Forest, N.C., the WRC fosters collaboration among commercial partners, academic institutions and research organizations, and is a CTIA-certified testing facility. The WRC accelerates the rate of scientific discovery and innovation by advancing wireless technology for a broad range of commercial and next-generation applications, ranging from medical and wearable devices to sensor and Internet-of-Things networks, wide-area networks and rural broadband. For more information, visit

About UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina
On air, online and in person, UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina connects North Carolinians to each other, the world and endless possibilities. Through its unique partnership of public investment and private support, the statewide network includes in-person engagement, digital-first social and online content delivery, and four over-the-air channels—UNC-TV PBS & More, the North Carolina Channel, Rootle 24/7 PBS KIDS and the Explorer Channel. Additionally, it provides emergency services support for the state and free educational services and resources for teachers. Visit and join the conversation by connecting at, and @publicmediaNC on Twitter.

CONTACT Rebekah Radisch, UNC-TV: 919-549-7177