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Emerging Tech for Responder Evaluation in the U.S.

Image source: Getty images/colin anderson productions pty ltd

In New York City, where first responders can experiment with and test new tools in a realistic urban setting, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate put out a call for several technologies, ranging from fixed, on-body or hand-held sensors to deployable robotics.

For sensors, S&T is looking for solutions that can send and receive data to support or enhance the effectiveness of first responders’ missions; ideally, this technology should be able to detect threats and help maintain safety on public transportation systems, during large public events and everyday real-world response.

It also seeks drone technology that would help responders survey and model urban environments. According to the RFI, these solutions would help officials conduct pre-and post-storm analysis of coastlines, city infrastructure and general urban search and rescue operations. Deployable, wayfinding robotics with an AI-based mobile, video, and multi-sensor platform would be useful for perimeter security, surveillance and inspecting public transportation facilities.

To further enhance disaster preparedness and emergency response, S&T wants situational awareness platforms that provide insights into oncoming weather and evacuation tools, especially those to help with caring and transporting patients. S&T also asks for handheld data collection systems to capture photos, tag locations, and take notes on different environments as well as AI-based video analytics solutions that have Wi-Fi capabilities and provide data in real-time.

Also of interest are GPS sensor technologies that can track responders outdoors, indoors or underground and solutions that provide real-time information such as air level monitoring, and location, 3D imaging and biometric feedback on deployed responders. S&T also wants to evaluate resource management tools to track medical supplies and responder equipment.

S&T is looking for deployable communications solutions responders can use in high-rise or subterranean environments where communications systems are unstable. To ensure that personnel can effectively use these tools, the S&T is asking for training hardware and software, including 3D holographic technologies for first responder training and exercises.

Moreover, DHS S&T is seeking technology solutions that meet the following categories:

  1. Fixed, on-body, or hand-held sensors
  2. Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
  3. Situational Awareness Platforms
  4. Response and Evacuation Tools
  5. Deployable Communications Systems
  6. Indoor and Outdoor Personnel Location Tracking Systems
  7. Video Content Analysis and Video Analytics
  8. Training Hardware/Software
  9. Deployable Robotics
  10. Handheld Data Collection Equipment
  11. Resource Management/Tracking

Each of the following technology categories contains information regarding potential technology solution types, potential first responder use-cases for the technology solutions, and desired technology solution features.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, to better monitor the health and performance of warfighters, first responders and even professional athletes, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is looking for information regarding innovative approaches to enhance the performance of Advanced Smart Textile (AST) systems with an emphasis on individual component integration.

The Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems (SMART e-PANTS) program aims to incorporate electronic components into clothing that can sense, process and communicate information on individuals’ location and physical surroundings. Integration of these capabilities into textiles for greater capability, comfort and convenience has long been envisioned, free of uncomfortable.

Today’s wearables and sensor-laden clothing that collect, process and communicate information on an individuals’ heartbeat, temperature or location are too bulky or must be strapped to users’ bodies. Textiles offer greater capability, comfort and convenience, but consumers have not seen many advantages in textile-based systems over the smartphones or other wearable electronics they already carry.

Active smart textile (ASTs) research is a burgeoning new field where fabrics are designed to adapt and change their functionality in response to changes in their external environment or user input. Unlike passive smart textiles (PST) such as Gore-TexTM which rely on their physical structure to function, ASTs employ energy to power built-in sensors and/or actuators that sense, store, interpret or react to information from their environment.

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