DOWNEY ‚àí With more than 150 first responders and law enforcement personnel in attendance, Raytheon on Monday officially opened its 27,000-sqaure-foot Public Safety Regional Technology Center, which will serve as a test and research facility for the company's latest innovations in defense and communications.During a nearly two-hour open house, both city officials and Raytheon executives lauded the new center as the first step towards creating solutions in communications technology, which directly benefits firefighters, soldiers, police officers and pilots alike. "The purpose of the public safety technology center is to make day-to-day jobs easier for law enforcement and first responders," said Peter Ramjug, a spokesman for Raytheon, who reached out to police and fire agencies and offered to make better and more efficient equipment. "They told us what they wanted instead of us telling them what they need." Unlike its east coast counterpart in Raleigh, North Carolina, which focuses strictly on communications systems, the Downey-based public safety technology center, located at 11899 Woodruff Ave., will test and design defense tools while providing research facilities, training, maintenance, logistics, and customer and systems support. The technology center also includes an operations room with a state-of-the-art dispatch console that integrates various computer programs that all manage communications between first responders and command centers. Inside the operations room there is an 8-screen video wall and a mega computer, which controls each communications program simultaneously including multi-channel teleconferences, video streaming, and tracking technologies. "These are exciting times. Downey is at the forefront of technology," said Councilman Luis Marquez. "We as a city are looking forward to a close relationship with Raytheon. We hope to partner with them on public safety here in our community." Marquez believes the opening of Raytheon's public safety technology center coinciding with the Columbia Memorial Space Center will help encourage the city's youth to advance in the subjects of mathematics, science and engineering. "The last three years we've been moving the city forward, working closely with businesses, showcasing our city…the quality of life and the business-friendly environment," said Marquez. "This is just one example, the fact that we were able to attract a company with such a reputation as Raytheon speaks of the leadership and quality of our staff. Other cities are struggling, we're putting Downey on the forefront." Since acquiring the location last year, Raytheon has spent millions renovating the two-story office building, which will now house more than 25 program engineers and managers who will oversee the technological research at the facility. Raytheon, who announced intentions to move into Downey last March, will focus on several emerging technologies that are slated to be a part of the future of local law enforcement. During the grand opening preview Monday afternoon, the Downey City Council along with Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe toured many of these projects like the one force tracker, a program that allows every police officer or firefighter in the field to share media, mobile apps and information in one 3G network. Raytheon also previewed the Boomerang Shooter Detection System, which listens for incoming fire and alerts officers letting them know where the shots are coming from. Command pads, which are used to keep police and fire chiefs up-to-date on what's happening in the field in real-time, were also on display, in addition to an innovative, hand-held Language Translations module that once spoken into can translate English into up to seven different languages. In addition to designing and testing these products, the Raytheon facility also plans to bring academia and industry together to create a technical, collaborative forum for research. Last year, Raytheon signed a letter of intent with UCLA in order to form a relationship with the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. As a result, Raytheon established the UCLA Center for Public Safety Network Systems and committed an initial contribution of $1 million over the next three years to spur students' interest in the field. Mike Bostic, a retired, 34-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department who now serves as the director of Raytheon's public safety solutions, believes the technology center is ultimately about bringing people together to solve problems and create equipment that aids law enforcement agencies everywhere. "We asked these first responders what would make them more successful," said Bostic. "And they said they had no place to dream - this is your place to dream. It's only day one and I'm real excited about this." In a statement shortly before the ceremonial ribbon cutting, Knabe praised the city of Downey and Raytheon for working together to bring high-tech jobs and technological innovation back into the region. "This just reflects on the leadership of the great city of Downey," said Knabe. "There are a lot of cities out here, but Downey said, 'how can we get it done.' My hat's off to Downey."
********** Published: February 16, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 44