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DHS S&T Launches Prize Competition for Tracking First Responders Indoors

The first crowdsourced prize competition in support of the nation’s first responder community was announced Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

The “Indoor Tracking of the Next Generation First Responder” prize competition seeks innovative ideas for solving the challenges of real-time, accurate indoor tracking of first responders during an incident, DHS said, noting, “S&T is looking for innovate solutions that will help first responders with basic questions such as ‘where am I?’ and ‘where is my team?’”

“Indoor tracking is a critical need for first responders,” said DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Robert Griffin, a former firefighter and emergency manager.

“When a firefighter runs into a burning building or when law enforcement raids a warehouse, incident commanders need to maintain situational awareness of the locations of team members,” Griffin said.

According to DHS, “This challenge is further exacerbated if radio communications are poor or non-existent. S&T is leveraging the benefits of crowdsourcing through this prize competition to gather innovative ideas for solving this complex, mission-critical problem. Proposed solutions should be personalized, modular and scalable, as well as employ current and emerging technologies, sensors and techniques.”

The winning solutions will receive a first place award of $20,000 and a second place award of $5,000. The open period for submissions is from March 3, 2015 to April 2, 2015.

To submit ideas, the public can register at https://www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9933726. Winning submissions may be selected for development and operational use.

“We are living in an incredible time of innovation. Advances in manufacturing, nanotechnology, sensors, smart chips, intelligent fabrics and the ‘Internet of Things’ are enabling individuals to have advanced capabilities in nearly every endeavor,” Griffin said. “This is the reason behind the competition – there are great new ideas and advances out there that can provide new capabilities, and we need to access them. First responders need these capabilities every day. Our long-term vision is that of a fully-aware, fully-connected and fully-integrated responder.”

This is the first of several S&T prize competitions to be conducted in accordance with the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Reauthorization Act of 2010 (The America COMPETES Act).

For more information on the DHS S&T InnoPrize Program, please visit
http://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/prize-competitions.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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