The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate Wednesday announced that The Vreeland Institute, Inc. of Copake, New York, and Certa Cito, LLC of Rochester, New York, were the winners of S&T’s first innovation prize competition, “Indoor Tracking of the Next Generation First Responders,” which focused on the challenge of keeping track of first responders when they are inside buildings, tunnels and other structures.
“Our nation’s first responders need this important technology developed, as they work to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe,” said S&T Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Robert Griffin, a former firefighter and emergency manager. “By developing this competition, we hope to recognize the non-traditional innovators who can bring fresh ideas to the table to meet this mission-critical need.”
“The prize competition method is one of many being used to influence scientific, engineering, and technical resources,” said Dr. Reginald Brothers, Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “This newand agile tool incentivizes innovative ideas and solutions to address a wide range of challenges while inspiring and mobilizing diverse, non-traditional talent, which is one of my top priorities. We have already seen significant interest in our first prize competition with over 300 problem solvers registered—I think that is a great sign of things to come.”
The announcement said, “S&T will continue to host prize competitions to help find solutions to technological challenges, and to advance government research and development (R&D). By attracting diverse talent, prize competitions result in a wide range of potential solutions, and can steer R&D efforts in new directions to meet homeland security needs.
“Indoor Tracking of the Next Generation First Responder” is critically important to ensure that, during an emergency, first responders of all disciplines can meet one of their most critical tasks: making sure everyone makes it out of the building alive. By ensuring that responders and incident commanders have real-time access to accurate position data, indoor tracking technology can save lives.
The first place prize of $20,000 will be awarded to The Vreeland Institute. Their winning solution proposed a multi-layered approach of existing technologies to locate first responders by creating a 3-D map of each room entered as first responders progress through a building.
The second place solution that will receive a $5,000 award was submitted by Certa Cito. Their solution adopts an existing localization and tracking technology developed for the sports and mining industries that relies on a deployable mesh network.
These two solutions were selectedfrom more than 50 ideas submitted. A panel of expert judges systematically reviewed the submissions for technical merit and alignment to DHS mission and programmatic needs.
The competition was created under America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Reauthorization Act of 2010 (The America COMPETES Act) in support of the nation’s first responder community.
For more information on the DHS S&T InnoPrize Program, please visit http://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/prize-competitions.