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December 10, 2021

Johns Hopkins APL to Co-host Virtual Workshop on 5G Technologies for First Responder and Tactical Networks

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, will co-host the fourth annual Virtual Workshop on 5G Technologies for First Responder and Tactical Networks on Tuesday, Dec. 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. This virtual event is co-hosted by IEEE Future Networks, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering-5G.

There is no cost to attend, but registration is required.

5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology, represents a paradigm shift over 4G, enabling applications that were previously impossible because of bandwidth and latency constraints, and introducing a new level of resiliency and flexibility to the underlying network. While several standards organizations and forums — namely IEEE, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project and the International Telecommunication Union — are defining the architecture and standardizing aspects of 5G technologies, few organizations are focusing on how such technologies can be useful to first responder and tactical networks.

Workshop participants will define and offer solutions to the unique problems faced by first responder and tactical networks using 5G technologies and present the latest research on the challenges and opportunities in this space. The workshop also provides a venue for 5G experts from industry and academia to meet and collaborate with their counterparts in the standards, regulatory, homeland security, public safety and defense communities.

APL’s 5G chief strategist, Ashutosh Dutta — a senior scientist in APL’s Asymmetric Operations Sector, IEEE fellow and founding co-chair of IEEE’s Future Networks Initiative and chair of the conference — said he is pleased with how the workshop has grown over the past three years.

“When I joined APL in 2018, I found there was a gap in 5G research and development to address the need for the first responders and tactical networks. I saw that as a tremendous opportunity,” Dutta said. “Since that first conference, which had a single plenary track and around 20 speakers, it’s grown considerably and now comprises seven tracks and nearly 70 speakers and panelists. That says a lot about the expanded interest we’ve seen in this space in that time.”

The keynote speakers for this year’s workshop are Russell Becker, director of the DHS Office for Interoperability and Compatibility and acting deputy of the Innovative Systems Branch of DHS Science and Technology’s Technology Centers Division, and Sumit Roy, who leads the Innovate Beyond 5G program in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

Other invited speakers include Ray Yuan (APL); Mari Silbey (US Ignite/National Science Foundation); Nicholas Oros (Federal Communications Commission); Ari Pouttu (6GWorld/University of Oulu); Charles Clancy (MITRE Labs), Jeff Bratcher (FirstNet) and Nada Golmie (National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST]). A closing plenary session panel on challenges and opportunities for first responder and tactical networks will be moderated by Sean Brassard (APL), with panelists including Navin Jaffer (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency [CISA]), Scott Fox (Department of Defense), Clarence Huff (Department of Defense) and Jorge Pereira (European Commission). Robert Bartholet (APL) will deliver closing remarks.

The workshop’s seven tracks include a plenary track, a technology track, two tracks for first responder networks, two tracks for tactical networks and a research track. Each track will consist of vendor talks, invited talks and talks from open calls. The talks will be available on demand for up to three months after the seminar, but prior registration is required.

Dutta said the workshop has become a forum for experts around the world to discuss how innovations in 5G and further network technologies can help first responder and tactical networks operate more efficiently and effectively, and ultimately save lives.

“This workshop is a collaborative effort to determine how we can take full advantage of 5G technology to solve real problems faced by our first responders and tactical community in the field,” he said. “5G is not just about internet access, streaming movies or even just telecommunications; it’s a vital technology for keeping people safe and responding nimbly to crisis situations.

“This workshop is about taking the initiative in that regard. We’re looking not just at 5G, but at how technology will develop beyond 5G, three and five and 10 years down the road, when we’ll have 6G,” Dutta added. “Three or four years ago, we were playing catch-up with the technology. But that isn’t the case any longer, and it certainly won’t be the case in a decade.”

APL Director Ralph Semmel said that the workshop demonstrates APL’s leadership in networking technology and commitment to contributing to the mission readiness of first responders and tactical operators.

“APL is committed to enabling first responders and other users who rely on tactical networks,” Semmel said. “We are in a strong position to help, having a self-contained, fully functional 5G testbed and a deep bench of expertise on 5G and emerging networking technology, as well as an understanding of the mission needs of these communities. We want to ensure that first responders and operators in the field will be able to count on the network when it matters the most — not just today, but well into the future.”

IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. IEEE Future Networks is an initiative that strives to address the challenges of next-generation wireless technologies.

Program details are available on the workshop’s website.

Media contact: Amanda Zrebiec, 240-592-2794,

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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