Developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL), POINTER is groundbreaking new first responder tracking and location technology that allows first responders to pinpoint their colleagues more precisely in emergencies. Using the POINTER system, firefighters can not only track team members to the exact floor in a building, but also determine whether they are still or in motion, standing upright or lying down.
Unlike existing GPS-based tracking technologies, POINTER uses magnetoquasistatic fields to geolocate individuals and high-value assets in environments where line of sight is severely compromised. POINTER can penetrate most natural materials like dirt, earth, water and thin metals from a standoff distance of 70 meters, determining an individual’s exact position in a structure within one centimeter of accuracy.
POINTER does not require a network of built-in infrastructure; the system consists of receivers worn by first responders that are smaller than a cell phone, transmitters positioned outside the scene, and a base station laptop that runs algorithms to track and display the receivers visually.
This type of location and tracking technology was the number one priority identified by members of S&T’s First Responder Resource Group, and the responders’ input has been incorporated throughout the research and development process. Additional operational field testing will continue throughout 2021 and POINTER should be commercially available for agencies to purchase in 2022.