The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has partnered with public safety agencies in Jefferson County and the city of Birmingham, Alabama, and industry partners for the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) – Birmingham Shaken Fury Operational Experimentation (OpEx) set for August 19-23, 2019.
“At the end of the day, S&T strives to ensure that in the chaos of a disaster, our communities are prepared, and our emergency responders are protected, connected and fully aware of the situation on the ground,” said William N. Bryan, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “We achieve this by bringing together the right partners and evaluating a range of technology solutions so when the time comes, responders can take swift, decisive action to mitigate loss of lives and property.”
This integration demonstration for the NGFR Program will help local emergency responders augment their public safety capabilities before hosting the World Games in July 2021. The OpEx will depict a scenario depicting an earthquake causing partial structural collapse and a HAZMAT leak at the Legion Field stadium. Such an incident would require significant public safety coordination for search and rescue, stadium evacuation, HAZMAT decontamination and mass medical care. The experiment also serves as the last in the series of FEMA Shaken Fury exercises.
S&T and industry partners will evaluate how selected DHS-developed and commercial technologies integrate with existing public safety systems using open standards, and how those integrated capabilities enhance operational communications, increase operational coordination, improve responder safety and augment situational awareness. These interoperable technology solutions will use recommended guidelines found in the Next Generation First Responder Integration Handbook. The handbook, which provides guidance for public safety agencies and industry on standards-based interoperable technologies, will help to ensure DHS-funded and commercial technology solutions can share information with existing regional public safety systems, applications, processes and procedures.
DHS S&T recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the local agencies, as well as 26 Cooperative Research and Development Agreements with industry partners to establish a collaborative relationship for planning and executing the OpEx. Public safety partnerships include the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County and the Birmingham Emergency Communications District, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama Emergency Management Agency, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Alabama Department of Transportation, and Alabama National Guard, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These partnerships will provide the opportunity to evaluate and demonstrate mission impact of first responder communication, situational awareness, Internet of Things (IoT) and on-body technologies in an operational environment.
Some of the technologies and capabilities used in the OpEx will include: public safety IoT, Unmanned Aerial Systems, deployable communications, stadium evacuation simulation tools, sensors that assess hazardous gases, responder physiological condition and patient status; and responder and incident commander situational awareness tools. Industry partners include:
- AT&T Corporation
- CommandWear Systems, Inc,
- Easy Aerial, Inc.
- Field Forensics, Inc.
- FireHUD, Inc.
- 5VS LLC (Five Vital Signs)
- Image Insight, Inc.
- Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, Inc
- Metronome Software, LLC.
- MobileIron, Inc.
- Modern Technology Solutions, Inc.
- N5 Sensors, Inc.
- NC4 Public Sector, LLC
- PAR Government Systems Corporation
- Project OWL
- Regal Decision Systems
- Robotic Research, LLC
- SensorUp, Inc.
- Silvus Technologies, Inc.
- Sonim Technologies, Inc.
- TRX Systems, Inc.
- Tyto Athene, LLC
- University of Alabama in Huntsville
DHS S&T is also coordinating with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T Corporation to run many of these cutting-edge networked devices on the newly-available FirstNet public safety broadband network.
“Real-time information helps first responders make real-time decisions,” said DHS S&T Program Manager and Birmingham Shaken Fury OpEx Director Cuong Luu.
“This exercise provides the opportunity for first responders to provide real-time feedback so that we may develop smarter, seamless and state-of-the-art technologies that increase their ability to focus on the mission, rather than distract from it.”
The OpEx aims to fulfill DHS S&T and regional first responder objectives including supporting responder technology innovation, evaluating how integrated technologies make responders safer and more effective, fulfilling responders’ annual training requirements, and receiving responder feedback on existing and emerging technologies to identify areas for improvement and continued DHS S&T focus.