Articles about Emergency Services

911 app is a joke, says security researcher Randy Westergren

The Rave Panic Button app, designed to allow businesses to summon emergency services, allows miscreants to easily 'swat' targets by making false reports of emergencies says security researcher Randy Westergren. The app, which has a small install base of up to 10,000 users, has shuttered the holes Westergren identified. The …
Darren Pauli, 17 Jan 2017
Parliament photo by Shutterstock

Big tech's grip loosens on UK.gov IT spend

UK government IT spending is still dominated by a few big suppliers – but they are losing some of their grip, according to publicly released data and Freedom of Information responses covering five of the biggest-spending organisations. Last year, the Cabinet Office said the three biggest IT suppliers across central government …
SA Mathieson, 13 Jan 2017

If only our British 4G were as good as, um, Albania's... UK.gov's telco tech report

Blighty has worse 4G coverage than that of Albania, Panama and Peru, according to major report by the National Infrastructure Commission today on 5G and telecommunication technology. The report, which you can read here found that Britain is 54th in the world for 4G, with the typical user only able to access 4G about 53 per …
Kat Hall, 14 Dec 2016
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2.1Gbps speeds over LTE? That's not a typo, EE's already done it

MBBF2016 Engineers at EE recently managed to get speeds of 2.1Gbps out of a trial LTE deployment, according to Tom Bennett, the British telco’s director of network services and devices. “Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s the fastest anyone’s got LTE to go anywhere,” Bennett told the world’s tech press at Huawei’s Global Mobile …
Gareth Corfield, 25 Nov 2016

Emergency services 4G by 2020? And monkeys could fly out of my butt

Users of the UK government's plans to shove the emergency services on to a 4G network by March 2020 are sceptical about the programme's timetable. Perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, since a scheme of this scale has never before been tried anywhere else in the world. The Emergency Services Network (ESN) – set to replace the Tetra …
Kat Hall, 17 Nov 2016
LQD WiFi station

Verizon pours cash into city Wi-Fi with LQD buy

US telecom giant Verizon says it will buy the Big Apple startup LQD WiFi with the goal of improving network access in crowded cities. Set up by ex-Microsoftie Randy Ramusack, LQD specializes in developing public "hub" kiosks that combine Wi-Fi base stations with charging stations and digital signage screens. The LQD "Palo" …
Shaun Nichols, 15 Nov 2016

Brace yourselves! Blighty is turning to AI for help

The UK government is looking at ways to revamp its digital services with the help of machine learning and AI, according to a new report released by the Government Office for Science. AI is the biggest trend taking over technology, and with the looming presence of autonomous vehicles and robots, governments are beginning to …
Katyanna Quach, 11 Nov 2016

Sweden axes 700MHz spectrum sale over 'national security' fears

In a surprise announcement, the Swedish government has scrapped its plans to auction off 700MHz spectrum citing security concerns. The auction was due to begin on December 1 but acting director of the country's telecoms agency, Post & Telestyrelsen (PTS), Catarina Wretman announced she had decided to cancel it a month before …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Nov 2016
Stingray

Probe cops' Stingray phone masts, senators tell US comms watchdog

A group of US Senators has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate concerns that police stingray devices are causing illegally high levels of interference to wireless networks. In a letter addressed to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, Senators Bernie Sanders (I‑VT), Ron Wyden (D‑OR), Al Franken (D‑MN), …
Shaun Nichols, 07 Oct 2016

Ofcom finds 'reasonable grounds' that KCOM failed to maintain 999 services

UK comms watchdog Ofcom has today said it has "reasonable grounds" for believing operator KCOM failed to maintain emergency services access in Hull. KCOM notified Ofcom in February 2016 that its phone service in the region had suffered a “temporary reduction in availability.” In an update today the regulator said: "Ofcom has …
Kat Hall, 07 Oct 2016
Metropolitan police image via Shutterstock

'Inherent risk' to untried and untested 4G emergency services network – NAO

Plans for a new 4G emergency services network (ESN) to be used in life and death situations by the blue light services have been dubbed as "high risk," in a report from the National Audit Office today. The ESN will replace the expensive Airwave radio system used by the police, fire and ambulance services. It is expected to …
Kat Hall, 15 Sep 2016
Image by TSHIRT-FACTORYdotCOM http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-110716p1.html

Infected Android phones could flood America's 911 with DDoS attacks

A research trio has shown how thousands of malware-infected phones could launch automated distributed denial of service attacks to cripple the US emergency phone system "for days". The attacks are a new area of research and exploit the need for emergency call services to accept all calls regardless of origin. The theoretical …
Darren Pauli, 13 Sep 2016

Google plots cop detection for auto autos

Google has decided it's a good thing if its autonomous vehicles know when there's an emergency services vehicle in the vicinity, and has scored a patent for doing so. Since the Chocolate Factory's autonomous bubbles won't go particularly fast any time they're on a straight patch of road and can't see a cop, the idea is to help …
Zephyr 7 in flight. PIC: AIRBUS

UK military buys third £4m Zephyr drone for 'persistent surveillance' trials

The Ministry of Defence has bought a third solar-powered Zephyr-S surveillance drone for £4.3m, and says it “performs more like a satellite than a conventional UAV”. With its 25 metre wingspan covered in solar panel cells, this latest Zephyr-S is the third unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to be delivered as part of the MoD's £13m …
Gareth Corfield, 18 Aug 2016
stingray

Baltimore cops accused of violating FCC rules with Stingrays

Three civil rights groups have filed a complaint with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the use of Stingray devices by the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). The filing [PDF] accuses police investigators of operating without a license and interfering with the cellular network, both while unfairly targeting …
Shaun Nichols, 16 Aug 2016
Man weighs himself on imperial scale. photo by shutterstock

BT sees 35% sales gain as it digests hearty EE meal

Sales jumped by 35 per cent for BT's first quarter to £5.7bn, with profit before tax up 16 per cent to £802m - mainly due to its £12.5bn slurp of EE. The mobile operator contributed £1.2bn for the quarter and £84m in operating profit. Elsewhere other parts of the biz were lacklustre. Its Wholesale biz fell 10 per cent to £ …
Kat Hall, 28 Jul 2016
loud

After Monday's landing, SpaceX wants to do it in triplicate

SpaceX has applied to local authorities for permission to build two new rocket landing pads in Florida ahead of the launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket later this year. The Falcon Heavy consists of three modified Falcon 9 rockets strapped together – a more complex machine that Elon Musk describes as having a "heavy pucker factor …
Iain Thomson, 20 Jul 2016
Ambulance

UK South East Coast Ambulance slammed for creaking emergency dispatch IT

Ambulance service union the GMB has called for an urgent review of the UK's South East Coast Ambulance’s computerised dispatch system for control centre staff handling emergency calls. The union says staff have reported constant loading errors and regular system crashes that leave dispatchers unable to answer calls, contact …
Kat Hall, 19 Jul 2016
fire helicopter

Drone bloke cuffed after gizmo stops firemen tackling forest inferno

A man was arrested by officers from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection after his drone allegedly got in the way of them tackling a major blaze. Eric Wamser, 57, of Foresthill, California, was cuffed on Friday after posting drone-shot footage of the Trailhead Fire, which has burned for three weeks and …
Iain Thomson, 19 Jul 2016

Extension to blue light services' Airwave network is on the cards

The Home Office has already worked out the cost of extending Blighty's radio-based emergency services network, in the increasingly-likely scenario that a move to ubiquitous 4G coverage cannot be delivered by 2020. The £2.9bn digital radio communications Tetra (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) supplied by Airwave is currently due to …
Kat Hall, 01 Jul 2016
Poster for the movie Cable Guy. Copyright:  Columbia Pictures Corporation,

Linux's NFV crew: Operators keen to ditch clunky networks, be 'cool' like, er, Facebook

OPNFV Summit Network operators have a jealous eye on the likes of Facebook and Google and want to ditch their clunky networks to compete for "cooler" consumer services, the head of the open-source network function virtualisation (NFV) project has said. Heather Kirksey is director of the collaborative Linux foundation's OPNFV project – the …
Kat Hall, 23 Jun 2016
US Flag and money

US House to vote on whether poor people need mobile phones

The US House of Representatives could end the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Lifeline subsidized phone program in a vote today. The bill, HR5525 or the End Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act of 2016, threatens to prohibit the FCC paying out subsidies to mobile phone carriers who offer discounted mobile phone service for …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Jun 2016
Jam

Florida man, Chinese biz fined $48k, $35m on mobe signal jam raps

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined a Florida chap and a Chinese business over cellphone jamming boxes. The watchdog said it will try to extract [PDF] $34.9m from Shenzhen-based retailer CTS Technologies for marketing illegal jammers and, in a separate case, will fine [PDF] a bloke $48,000 for using a …
Shaun Nichols, 26 May 2016
top of the bt tower

BT to splash £550m integrating EE. Firm shrugs: Cheap!

BT's £12.5bn gobble of EE will cost the business £550m in integration costs - according to the company's full-year financial results which were given a significant boost thanks to the acquisition. For its full-year results for 2016, revenue increased six per cent to £18.9bn, with profits up 15 per cent to £3bn. Revenue for the …
Kat Hall, 05 May 2016

EE grows network by one-third, promises to build 750 new sites

EE has is expanding its 4G network by one-third to cover 95 per cent of the UK by 2020 – following its mega contract with the Home Office to provide emergency services coverage across the country. Under the plan the operator is building 750 new sites across the country in a bid to eradicate "notspots". It is the first major …
Kat Hall, 25 Apr 2016
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BlackBerry is pivoting from phones to enterprise software

Interview BlackBerry’s purchase of rival Good has begun to convince people it can make the big shift from phones to enterprise software. The company’s global sales chief Carl Wiese shared his view of the post-Snowden, post-Schrems landscape with The Register. “On conference calls last year almost all of the questions from financial …
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Apr 2016

WhatsApp at BlackBerry? For one thing, BBM's now free

BlackBerry has abandoned the freemium model it tried to build around its pioneering chat client BBM, and is making all of its goodies available for free, including secure encrypted chat. The company previously charged a subscription for being able to retract and delete messages after a period of time, giving users three of …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Apr 2016

Hacker reveals $40 attack that steals police drones from 2km away

Black Hat Asia IBM security guy Nils Rodday says thieves can hijack expensive professional drones used widely across the law enforcement, emergency, and private sectors thanks to absent encryption in on-board chips. Rodday says the €25,000 (US$28,463, £19,816, AU$37,048) quadcopters can be hijacked with less than $40 of hardware, and some …
Darren Pauli, 01 Apr 2016
IBM PC 5150

IBM buys CRM SaaS firm – no, not Salesforce

IBM has snapped up an as-a-service CRM expert and, no, it has nothing to do with Salesfore. The giant has bought Microsoft Dynamics systems integrator partner Optevia for an undisclosed sum in a deal announced Friday morning. UK-based Optevia will be folded into IBM Global Business Services, which is seeing staff axed as part …
Gavin Clarke, 18 Mar 2016
Woman frustrated while trying to make mobile phone call... Photo via Shutterstock

David Cameron hints at Budget law change to end mobile not-spots

David Cameron has hinted a law change will be introduced in the budget next week to make it easier to erect mobile phone masts in “not spot” areas. Cameron was responding to a Parliamentary question yesterday asked by Conservative MP Andrew Morrison, asking what will be done ahead of next week's budget to address the UK's …
Kat Hall, 10 Mar 2016

Airwave drops lawsuit against Home Office over EE contract win

Airwave will no longer be pursuing legal action against the Home Office over its decision to award part of a chunk of its Emergency Services Network contract to EE. A spokesman for Motorola said: "We can confirm that all disputes have now been settled and all litigation will be dropped." In December last year EE won part of …
Kat Hall, 24 Feb 2016
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Cisco customers on alert over new vulns

Cisco is warning customers of a couple of new medium-level security vulnerabilities. The first is a bug in Cisco's Emergency Responder (CER) software, part of the company's Unified Communications System. CER is a purpose-built module for emergency services customers, feeding the location of phones making incoming calls to the …
Crypto fingers

Row over GCHQ-built voice algo MIKEY SAKKE rumbles on

GCHQ has defended its controversial MIKEY-SAKKE phone encryption protocol against criticism that it leaves a backdoor into systems that support the technology. The CESG assurance arm of the UK government’s signal intelligence agency has taken the unusual step of publishing a background document and FAQ in defence of the …
John Leyden, 04 Feb 2016
1950s style illustration - Smiling woman talks into rotary phone

BT airs out new business structure as it digests EE

BT is to create a Frankenstein business unit on April Fools' Day worth £5bn out of old parts of BT Global Services focused on the UK, BT Business and EE's newly acquired business unit, it announced during "record" third quarter financial results. The major restructure plans come days after the outfit completed its £12.5bn …
Kat Hall, 01 Feb 2016

'Blue light services will get 4G on London Tube!' Cool, how? 'Errrrm...'

The government's contentious Emergency Services Network deal, intended to provide 4G coverage and devices for all blue light services, will be able to run on the London Underground, the man in charge of the scheme has insisted. Stephen Webb, senior responsible owner of the ESN deal, said: "We will have a solution that works on …
Kat Hall, 29 Jan 2016

Fears of fiber cable cuts, rogue drones menacing crowds at Super Bowl 50

A security memo from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security has warned of the dangers from a high-tech attack against crowds flocking to Silicon Valley for this year's Super Bowl jamboree. The climactic game will be held in the San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara on February 7, although there will be a series of …
Iain Thomson, 20 Jan 2016
British Transport Police cop. Pic: Gordon Joly

Motorola splashes £817m buying out police comms biz Airwave

Motorola has snapped up Airwave, the walkie-talkie biz used by Blighty's emergency services, for £817.5m. Airwave reckons it is the largest private operator of a public safety network in the world, delivering voice and data communications to more than 300 emergency and public service agencies in Great Britain. However, the …
Kat Hall, 04 Dec 2015
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

NSW government mulls unified public safety comms

The government of the Australian state of New South Wales has completed a review of emergency services telecommunications, and has decided it wants a single statewide network. The review (PDF here), conducted by the NSW Telco Authority, concludes there's no point to having individual agencies own and operate their own networks …
Banksy protester image 1000 words via Shutterstock

Brits learning from the Continent? Authority, digi gov wheezes and the Autumn Statement

Analysis Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne included several uses of technology in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review. As part of a major expansion, the Government Digital Service will develop a common payment system on gov.uk, so that by 2020 citizens will have the option of paying online for every central …
SA Mathieson, 26 Nov 2015
Solar filament eruption of August 31, 2012

US Military enlists radio hams to simulate fight with THE SUN

Nobody's quite forgotten that a really big solar event can upset kit even as crude as a telegraph, so the US military is recruiting radio hams to help test its contingency plans. The exercise will happen between November 8 and November 10 (US time), when operators will be asked to practice what to do before and after the Sun …

Of course you can text and call while driving – it's perfectly safe

We are often lectured not to talk or text while driving, yet increasingly, our cars are doing it all the time. The connected car is finally here, and it is the ultimate distracted driver. While getting you from A to B, it is also monitoring its own tyre pressure and adjusting its suspension accordingly. It is ready to call the …
Robin Birtstone, 21 Oct 2015
British Transport Police cop. Pic: Gordon Joly

How much do UK cops pay for Microsoft licences? £30 a head or £137? Both

Coppers are wasting millions on negotiated software licences, with some forces paying more than four times more than other constabularies of a similar size for Oracle and Microsoft licences, The Register can reveal. According to a Freedom of Information response from 10 police forces of differing sizes, some constabularies …
Kat Hall, 09 Oct 2015

Pocket mobe butt dialing clogs up 911 emergency calls, says Google

Researchers with Google have found that accidental "butt dial" calls from mobile phones are creating a headache for emergency call centers. A study published this month by Google's 911 research team found that from 2012-2014, the number of accidental wireless calls to emergency operators has increased, as has the time spent …
Shaun Nichols, 05 Oct 2015
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

Roll-your-own public safety broadband network too pricey for Australia

Australia’s Productivity Commission says emergency services should drop the idea of building a dedicated mobile broadband network and use commercial services instead. In its draft report, the Productivity Commission says a dedicated network with its own spectrum would cost more than A$6 billion over the next 20 years. …
Bill Bennett, 23 Sep 2015
Ambulance

PM hints at legislation stick to force blue-light services to share IT

Sick of trying to persuade the blue-light services to consolidate their multiple back-office IT systems, it seems the government is now planning to introduce legislation to force their hands. As it stands there is huge duplication of back-office services, with 43 police forces, 45 fire and rescue services and 10 ambulance …
Kat Hall, 11 Sep 2015
The solar powered patrol vehicle employed by the Fort Knox directorate of emergency services. Credit: US Army

Self-driving CARS? BORING. We want self driving, LIZARD dodging GOLF CARTS

Many jaded readers of the Register, noting on the interwebs the endless stream of stories about self-driving cars - being worked upon by such companies as Google - may have wondered whether in fact anyone at all is actually working on the real, genuine problems confronting the human race. Well wonder no more, my jaundiced …
Lewis Page, 02 Sep 2015

Vodafone: Dammit Britain, your emergency services need 4G!

Despite not being part of the bid to supply the future Emergency Services Network, Vodafone wants to see public services using its 4G, and has commissioned a YouGov survey (something companies do when they want to put numbers in press releases) of front line workers, such as police officers, nurses, and social workers. The …
Simon Rockman, 28 Aug 2015
Car crash

Verizon wants to smartify old cars

Black, grey, and white hats associated with car hacking are flying in the air today, with Verizon announcing it's going to vastly expand their attack surface. That's not what the US network operator actually says, of course. What the company has announced is that its “project hum” has gone general-availability. Hum is …
Airwave has given the police reliable comms

Home Office seeks advice on Police Radio omnishambles

The Home Office has announced a new twist in the sorry tale of the Emergency Services Network saga and is asking suppliers to consult on a procurement framework that started two years ago. The government department has published a Prior Information Notice (PIN) for a tender to replace the Airwave communications equipment used …
Simon Rockman, 17 Aug 2015
oneweb

I could spoof Globalstar satellite messages, boasts infosec bod

Black Hat 2015 Intercepting and spoofing satellite communications carried over the Globalstar network is possible with modest technical skills and an investment of just $1,000, according to new research due to be unveiled at Black Hat. Globalstar is downplaying the threat, stating that its system isn’t getting hacked. Globalstar's consumer- …
John Leyden, 05 Aug 2015