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July 15, 2015
Coleman Bazelon Contributes to National Research Council Report on Active Remote Sensing

Brattle principal Coleman Bazelon contributed to the recently-released report, “A Strategy for Active Remote Sensing Amid Increased Demand for Radio Spectrum,” carried out for NASA by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The report outlines the importance of active remote sensing, or the use of a transmitter and at least one receiver to measure the transmission or scattering properties of a medium at radio frequencies, to accommodate societal needs that come along with the significantly increased demand for access to radio spectrum. These new demands, largely due to advances in affordable electronics and mobile wireless in recent years, have led to discussions among government and industry representatives about new approaches for reducing the radio frequency interference between users and services.

The report also identifies current and future threats to the effective use of the frequencies required for active remote sensing, including radio frequency interference (RFI) and operational restrictions. The authors’ findings suggest that the RFI environment is becoming increasingly worse in some bands, with some bands facing “near-term threats due to the planned expansion of commercial services in the Earth Exploration-Sat¬ellite Service-Active spectrum allocation.” Additionally, national and international regulatory bodies have placed various restrictions which may result in loss of data coverage or quality. Most notably, the “transmit restrictions imposed on science sensors” and inefficient use of bands allocated to Earth-Exploration Satellite Service –Active, are among the largest future operational threats.

Dr. Bazelon and his co-authors emphasize the importance of active remote sensing, stating that it brings many benefits to society and is also an important tool for studying Earth and its environment. The Academies encourage federal agencies to better quantify the radio interference environment, facilitate spectrum sharing, and support additional spectrum allocations for specific scientific applications. The report also encourages the scientific community to collaborate with policymakers on spectrum management issues and to seek opportunities to share bandwidth.

The full report can be read here.