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September 1, 2016

APL Receives Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary’s Award

John Contestabi​le receiving the DHS Under Secretary's Award

APL’s John Contestabile, left, pictured with the Deptartment of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate’s Cuong Luu, received the DHS Under Secretary’s Award for work on the datacasting program, which gives first responders more and better data to use during relief efforts. Credit: DHS

A team from the Asymmetric Operations Sector, led by John Contestabile, was awarded a 2016 Under Secretary’s Award from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) for its work in leading the testing and development of datacasting, a new technology for first responders.

Datacasting uses software and existing public television broadcast capabilities to deliver targeted, secure, and immediate data and video to first responders across wide areas, providing them with a much better and more effective means to coordinate their efforts.

Pilot programs in Houston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., held in 2015 have proven very successful with fire and police organizations, and the city of Houston has used datacasting during responses to large public events and flooding. The Under Secretary’s Award went to APL, the pilot program lead, and SpectraRep, which provided technical support, for their outstanding collaboration in preparing and executing the pilot tests.

“On behalf of the entire APL datacasting team, we are honored to receive this recognition from the sponsor, and proud to have been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of this new and powerful tool for first responders,” said Contestabile, from the Homeland Protection Mission Area, who led the program; the other team members include HPMA’s Steve Babin and Dan Syed. “APL led the way in coordinating efforts between SpectraRep, public safety officials and agencies, and public television stations, and provided DHS S&T with a robust test that showed the broad possibilities of datacasting.”

“Datacasting made it possible in less than an hour to stream live video from a helicopter that did not have that capability, into the Emergency Operations Center [EOC] and then into a conference room that was without a video workstation or any other connection capability. This software is giving us the ability to accommodate needs and fill capability gaps in ways we never thought possible,” said Jack Hanagriff, City of Houston, Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Learn more about APL’s work on datacasting:

APL compiled two comprehensive reports on the Houston and Chicago pilots for DHS S&T:
Video Datacasting: Houston Pilot After Action Report
Video Datacasting: Chicago Pilot After Action Report

Watch the DHS-produced “Datacasting in 100 Seconds” video.

Media contact: Geoff Brown, 240-228-5618,

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit

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