Several states have approved legislation granting workers' compensation benefits to first responders affected by post-traumatic stress syndrome, a subject many people have long been reluctant to address. "You see these people go numb and withdraw, they develop a lack of motivation, they second-guess themselves," psychiatrist Laurence Miller said.
Dorchester County, Md., has doubled the space devoted to 9-1-1 operations and enhanced its communications system. The additional space means "we can up-staff in the event of a disaster," said emergency communications chief Nicholas Kovach, noting additional improvements will be made in the next six months.
The police department of Brownsville, Texas, is looking to crack down on theft and burglary with the help of social media platform affiliated with the surveillance firm Ring. Police note that the Neighbors Law Enforcement Portal, which allows users to post anonymously, is not monitored 24/7 and cannot supplant conventional emergency notification systems.
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Virginia has allocated $6.5 million in state funding for its internet radio system to connect federal, state and local first-responder agencies, which will enable many towns to join for the first time. The Commonwealth Link to Interoperable Communications, or COMLINC, was established in 2007, with communities having to supply their own funding.
Motorola Solutions has married artificial intelligence with the standard police radio in the form of a voice assistant that responds to commands like "run a license plate." The APX NEXT radio switches to broadband when the land signal is weak, transmits its location, and Motorola executives say video capabilities are on the horizon.
The Accelerate R2 Network Challenge offers a $1 million grant for innovation that helps advance disaster response. The challenge -- issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, FirstNet and the Commerce Department -- is an economic opportunity that also will "increase resilience to future disasters," says Assistant Commerce Secretary John Fleming.