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Released: 6/29/2010 

Drakontas Demonstrates Prototype Wireless Emergency Messaging System for Passengers on Trains in Subway Tunnels

Drakontas LLC, a company that develops situation awareness and wireless communications tools for first responders, law enforcement and homeland defense, formally demonstrated its prototype wireless emergency messaging solution for transit passengers in subway tunnels today. The 30-minute demonstration showcased the innovative messaging platform capability inside a passenger train at PATCO's 8th and Market Station in Center City Philadelphia.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), funded Phase I of the project, the purpose of which was to explore the specific challenges of providing emergency messages via wireless networks to transit system passengers in subway tunnels.

Over the past year, Drakontas has been working with PATCO to survey wireless communications techniques appropriate for subway tunnels, with the objective of improving emergency communications with passengers on trains in these environments.

“The FTA has found that passengers on trains that are experiencing delays or unplanned stoppages between stations become confused and frustrated due to the lack of communication with the train operator or control station.  This is particularly problematic in emergencies, where passengers need accurate and timely information,” explained Dr. Alan Kaplan, Chief Technology Officer at Drakontas and the project’s Principal Investigator.  “The FTA asked us to prototype an emergency messaging system that can operate in subway tunnels and over wireless networks, with the goal of improving information flow to passengers.  We are excited to demonstrate this new tool that will provide improved safety for transit riders.”

Added James Sim, Drakontas’ President & COO, “Drakontas has built its reputation by partnering with law enforcement and public safety agencies on the development, trial and evaluation of communications tools.  We leveraged those experiences for this pilot project with PATCO in order to develop a wireless messaging system for emergencies in subway tunnels.  We are grateful to the FTA for supporting this effort and to PATCO for lending its expertise and resources to help us develop a new method of emergency communications in the name of enhanced transit safety.  We look forward to building upon the successes of Phase I and continuing our work with PATCO in the future.”

“Being able to quickly and effectively communicate with our customers during times of an emergency is of great importance to us,” said PATCO President John J. Matheussen. “It is an ongoing priority for us at PATCO to do all we can to enhance rider safety and this cutting edge technology will assist us in that regard.”

About Drakontas LLC
Drakontas develops, evaluates and promotes interoperable communications solutions that increase the safety and operational efficiency of law enforcement, emergency response, and security personnel.  Headquartered in Camden, New Jersey, Drakontas was founded in partnership with Drexel University in 2004 to transition technologies developed at the Applied Communications and Information Networking (ACIN) Center for the Department of Defense to commercial, civilian and homeland security uses.

Drakontas also administers the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) Communications Technologies Center of Excellence (COE) through a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice.  The COE, whose purpose is to test, evaluate and demonstrate cutting edge communications tools and technologies, manages a wide range of criminal justice operational evaluations involving software defined and cognitive radios, position location technologies, wireless data interoperability, and other communications tools and capabilities.

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The Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) is the regional transit system operated by the Delaware River Port Authority that connects South Jersey and Center City Philadelphia.

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About the Federal Transit Administration
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems, including buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, monorail, passenger ferry boats, trolleys, inclined railways, commuter vanpools and people movers.

The Federal government, through the FTA, provides financial assistance to develop new transit systems and improve, maintain, and operate existing systems.  FTA oversees grants to state and local transit providers, primarily through its ten regional offices.

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