Blog

National Preparedness Month

September 3, 2019
9:00 am

September is National Preparedness Month in the U.S., but we, at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), focus on preparedness all year long. While the month-long campaign focuses on preparing individual Americans for disasters, a large portion of S&T’s work centers around preparing first responders for threats they face today and may face tomorrow. 

William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and TechnologyS&T works together with first responders from all disciplines – fire services, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and emergency managers –  to develop tools and capabilities that meet their needs, keep them safe, and help to improve communications. In fact, the emergency management tools discussed below are currently being used to support preparedness efforts for Hurricane Dorian.

While the challenges first responders and emergency managers face day in and day out are ever evolving, so too is the rapid pace of innovation. S&T aims to recognize first responders’ needs, look at existing technology, and work with industry partners to fill gaps to make sure responders are prepared for whatever comes their way. Many of our tools are field-tested and commercially available.

Here is a sample of some of the technologies and tools S&T has funded to better prepare our nation’s first responders:
 

Law Enforcement

Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) is a game-based software training application being used by first responders and schools staff to train and prepare responders in a safe, virtual-reality environment on different scenarios ranging from active shooter to arson to parental custody disputes to bomb threats.

Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK) is a government-off-the-shelf app for Android smartphones that uses GPS and maps to provide the user a real-time view of an area of operations. It enables multiple types of encrypted data communication such as text and file sharing (including photos and video). These communications can be set for user-to-user, user-to-select teams, user-to-command post or user-to-entire force (even if they are from different agencies).

Fire Services

Burn Saver is a wearable technology developed for fire fighters to alert them when a fire is rising to a temperature that is hotter than the protective capabilities of their Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can handle. Once the alert sounds, fire fighters have 45 seconds to move to a different location or retreat.

Respiration Protection for Overhaul is a light-weight respirator system designed specifically to be used during overhaul operations – when the fire is mostly out, and firefighters must check for hot spots or where the fire is smoldering – to protect against both chemical vapors and particulate hazards.  This respirator is lighter than a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), lasts longer and is safer than a dust mask.

Emergency Medical Services

QuickRoute is a routing system for emergency vehicles that accounts for more challenges than a typical GPS application does. These challenges include: inclement weather, road conditions, size of the vehicle, alternative routes, as well as downed power lines and other hazards. Designed to get first responders to the location of an emergency safely and as fast as possible.

Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction and Synthesis (AUDREY) is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) program that uses human-like reasoning to sift through the vast amount of data from various tools and sensors an emergency medical technician (EMT) is using, analyze the information in real time and provide insight to the EMT.

Emergency Managers

Advanced CIRCulation (ADCIRC) Storm Surge Model is a web-based platform that combines rain, atmospheric pressure, and wind forecasts to predict when, where, and to what extent flooding will inundate a coastal community. This enables decision-makers to identify which locations will become unsafe and plan for mitigation and response before severe storms occur.

Hurricane Evacuation (HURREVAC) system is a web-based platform that integrates forecast and planning data to provide emergency managers with support tools before, during, and after a tropical event to assist in the decision-making process.

Throughout the month of September, S&T will be highlighting each of the first responder disciplines and ways we are preparing them for whatever challenges come their way on the job.  Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to follow along on our social media channels.

Facing the Inevitable Storm

June 3, 2019
9:53 am

Natural disasters, like hurricanes, are unpreventable; however, the havoc they leave behind can, at least, be lessened.

William N. Bryan. Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology

Over the years, S&T has developed a host of tools in preparation for the Atlantic hurricane season; the 2019 season officially began June 1. These tools prepare our communities, protect our nation’s critical infrastructure, and help us rebound from hurricane strikes. We worked with partners across federal, state, and local governments throughout the development lifecycle of these tools. We spent time with emergency managers and first responders as they prepared for hurricanes forecasted to make landfall, and learned from academic institutions, businesses, and local communities about the true costs of these seasonal threats. Many of our tools are field-tested and available now.

  • The ADvanced CIRCulation (ADCIRC) storm surge model, which combines rain, atmospheric pressure, and wind forecasts to predict when, where, and to what extent flooding will inundate a coastal community with greater precision than other available models. This enables decision-makers to identify which locations to evacuate as a storm approaches and to plan for mitigation and response before severe storms occur.
  • The Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK), which supports the complex communication and coordination needs of multi-jurisdictional responders. ATAK was deployed during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
  • The HURREVAC-eXtended (HV-X) platform, which integrates forecast and planning data to provide emergency managers with decision support tools for use in advance of and during tropical weather.

The ideas for these tools  -- and many more -- came from seeing how those braving these storms operate, hearing what those suffering the aftermath needed – and then attempting to bridge this gap between established operational models and the resulting damage. We learned that – although preparation was still paramount to lessening the damage a storm causes – real-time and accurate information was the thread that tied together emergency response effectiveness from forecast to impact. Yet information alone is useless if it’s not conveyed quickly, precisely, and concisely, so tandem to information is communication. Our tools address these two lessons head on, incorporating aspects of both in their buildout and deployment during actual response missions.

With much of the hurricane season still ahead of us, rest assured that these tools and many more are being used to ensure the safety of Americans and reduce the inescapable shock to devastated communities. Know, too, that we continue to enhance these tools based on advancements in technology and, perhaps most importantly, feedback from users and the communities who this technology was developed to protect.

Keep up with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and subscribe to our email list for the latest updates delivered directly to your inbox.

Solving the Preparedness Puzzle

May 20, 2019
8:46 am

Between December 1811 and February 1812, the central U.S. experienced three major earthquakes, each having a magnitude of 7.0 or greater. The United States Geographic Survey indicates the probability of a similar quake of magnitude 6.0 or greater occurring during the next fifty years is somewhere between 28 and 46 percent. In today’s context, it is almost impossible to imagine the full impact of such a catastrophic event. So how do we, as a society, prepare for something William N. Bryan; Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.that is almost unimaginable? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is focused on ensuring that we are all ready for whatever comes our way and that our communities are able to remain resilient in the aftermath.

In the coming weeks, you will hear more from DHS S&T and our colleagues at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about an exercise called Shaken Fury, which will assemble several key puzzle pieces—government (federal, state, and local), first responders of all disciplines, the private sector, academia, non-governmental organizations, media, and the general public—to evaluate the bigger preparedness picture. We want to make sure we have everything fine-tuned so when a disaster does occur, the proper plans and courses of action are in place, and our stakeholders have every resource readily available.

Scheduled to take place over a week at the beginning of June, Shaken Fury will simulate response and recovery to a 7.7 magnitude earthquake near Memphis, Tennessee. Over the past 18 months, DHS S&T has been working with planners and practitioners in preparation for this exercise to enable regional resilience through the introduction and adoption of new innovations, technologies and tools. We are partnering with FEMA and the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) to enhance information sharing and decision support, including mechanisms to assist with the uptake of FEMA’s new Community Lifelines doctrine. As well, our partnership with FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) program will expose first responders to emerging and developed technologies and advance their ability to save lives at disaster sites. With teams from Canada and Australia participating, this USAR exercise offers DHS S&T the unique opportunity to showcase technologies on an international stage.

FEMA’s Shaken Fury response and recovery plans will focus on events in the New Madrid seismic zone, and DHS S&T will take this a step further, leveraging the opportunity to introduce and transition new and established technologies that will elevate regional resilience across a whole spectrum of potential threats and hazards. The work directly aligns to FEMA’s Strategic plan and the agency’s seven Community Lifelines. DHS S&T looks forward to continuing this work after Shaken Fury, to further entrench the necessary protocols and practices that will help communities sustain their elevated posture of resilience. We will work together to transition these technologies and use lessons learned to help ready communities for everyday emergencies and large-scale disasters.

It takes great vision and many hands to assemble a puzzle of the size and scope of Shaken Fury. DHS S&T will continue to keep you posted about how planning is coming together and why a partnership and exercise of this magnitude is so vital to the safety of our communities and our nation.

We are excited to embark on this endeavor and look forward to seeing each piece of the Shaken Fury framework develop. What strategies are working in your agency or community? What are the technologies missing from your preparedness puzzle? Tell us at first.responder@hq.dhs.gov.

How 3 Days in Calif will Inform Years of S&T First Responder R&D

May 13, 2019
10:49 am

Every spring, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) holds a meeting of first responder minds to gain critical stakeholder input that will serve as a roadmap for research and development (R&D) efforts for years to come. Outcomes of this meeting will influence the technologies we produce, how we engage with partners in industry and academia, and ultimately how we provide first responders with the tools they need to stay safe and keep on William N. Bryan; Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.protecting their communities.

It may seem like a lot rides on this three-day meeting, and it does. Our nation’s responders put their lives on the line every day, and we take our responsibility to them very seriously. That’s why we go right to the source—our First Responder Resource Group (FRRG)—when we want to better understand their technology requirements. Comprised of 140 responders representing all disciplines from across the country, the FRRG is a volunteer working group that helps S&T maintain focus on the top needs of responders in the field. The group meets in person annually to identify and prioritize which of these needs S&T will fund in the months and years to come.

Here’s a peek at what took place at this year’s FRRG Meeting this past week in San Diego, and how it sets the stage for S&T’s research and development lifecycle:

  • During three days of intensive discussion and collaboration, FRRG members, along with representatives from components across DHS, broke into working groups to pinpoint technology requirements in the areas of: responder health, safety and personal protective equipment; data management, collection and analytics; strategic command, control, coordination, and communications; operations and tactical tools; and response and defeat operations.
  • The group as a whole collectively prioritized requirements and began to develop statements of objectives, which will serve as the basis for an upcoming S&T Broad Agency Announcement solicitation. This ensures the responders’ specific needs are front and center from the very start when S&T engages with partners to embark on research and development.
  • FRRG members heard updates on technologies currently in development and saw others that are now available in the marketplace—all the fruits of their labor at previous years’ meetings. FRRG member input does not stop once the requirements are tallied and the meeting ends; rather, they are essential to the entire process, from initial ideas to commercialization. They inform every iteration of technology design, fit, function, and operation. They operationally field-test prototypes and provide feedback. And they are advocates for S&T-developed technologies, sharing word with their colleagues far and wide.

Hear from FRRG members themselves about the value of these meetings and what it means to be able to inform development of technologies that will enhance how they do their jobs. This year’s meeting was especially exciting because 40 new first responders were recently added to the group, lending fresh perspectives and ensuring even better geographic representation from across the U.S. We appreciate their insights and can’t wait to work with them all on a new generation of first responder technologies.

For more information on the FRRG, email first.responder@hq.dhs.gov.

S&T Provides Solutions for Requirements

May 6, 2019
9:42 am

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate’s research portfolio is driven by our customers’ needs. They provide requirements, and we conduct research and development or look at commercially available options to find the best solution for current and emerging threats.

William N. Bryan; Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.

For example, with the growing volume of data from next generation tools and sensors available, first responders can easily be overwhelmed and distracted from critical tasks. S&T’s Next Generation First Responder Apex program tackled this problem alongside NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and developed the Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction and Synthesis (AUDREY). A state-of-the-art human-like artificial intelligence (AI) reasoning system that assists first responders at the scene of an emergency, AUDREY sifts through vast amounts of data and provides tailored situational awareness information to first responders. It is a useful and potentially life-saving tool to help first responders in any situation and in any location.

AUDREY is one of many tools S&T is working on to help responders carry out their life-saving responsibilities more safely and effectively. By using artificial general intelligence principles to accept that perfect information may not be available and data may be contradictory, AUDREY is able to direct attention to the most relevant information, guide the reasoning process and recognize when the responder needs new information.

We are testing out AUDREY with our Canadian partners in Hastings-Quinte, Ontario. As part of the U.S.-Canadian bilateral agreement to evaluate next generation first responder technology, emergency medical services (EMS) operators in Hastings-Quinte partnered with S&T, NASA JPL, Defense Research Development Canada and Canadian technologists to develop and test AI applications to improve patient outcomes. In early April, we co-hosted a dry run for an upcoming AUDREY experiment. The final experiment will involve a scenario where EMS will use AUDREY’s AI technology to treat patients experiencing chest pain. At the end of the experiments, we’ll prepare after action reports to share with our counterparts and stakeholders.

AUDREY was also a topic at the recent annual Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis. The conference hosted stakeholders from the global firefighting and public safety community. In addition to AUDREY, FDIC participants experienced another S&T-developed product: the Smoke and Particulate Resistant Turnout Ensemble. S&T developed the ensemble in partnership with North Carolina State University’s Textile Protection and Comfort Center and LION First Responder PPE, Inc. First Responder Resource Group input was used to support and guide the ensemble’s design and implementation. This collaboration resulted in a turnout ensemble that provides inherent resistance to smoke and other particulates without the need to don additional equipment.

S&T does not do research and development for the sake of research and development. Our customer’s requirements directly drive our portfolios, and providing first responders what they need to keep themselves and our nation safe is one of our driving principals. Learn more about our projects by visiting the Our Work section of the website and find out how to work with us by visiting our Business Opportunities page or review our Industry Guide.

S&T Announces New International Call for Proposals

March 11, 2019
7:57 am

Every day, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) actively works to protect the American people from a range of threats, threats that many nations around the world also face.

As the research and development (R&D) arm of the Department, DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) William N. Bryan; Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.understands the importance of global cooperation and partners with our international counterparts to enhance homeland security capabilities. Currently, we have 13 international partnerships actively working to keep all nations’ critical infrastructure and economic interests secure. 

Many of S&T’s business opportunities— including Prize Competitions and the Silicon Valley Innovation Program—are open to international participants, however there is one unique partnership opportunity S&T has with Israel. Through the Israel – U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation’s Homeland Security (HLS) Program, S&T and Israel’s Ministry of Public Security (MOPS) are seeking proposals to support collaborative, innovative R&D between U.S. and Israeli companies, or between a company and a university or research institute—one from the U.S. and one from Israel. 

S&T and MOPS have partnered on the BIRD HLS program since 2016, to seek solutions in first responder technology areas such as protective clothing, wearable technology, and situational awareness. The newest Call for Proposals includes six topics.

  • Advanced first responder technologies
  • Border protection, including maritime security
  • Law enforcement-supporting technologies to combat cyber crime
  • Technologies and methods to secure critical infrastructure and public facilities
  • Safe and secure cities
  • Unmanned aerial systems

Since 2009, S&T and MOPS have promoted cooperative R&D, test and evaluation activities, and shared information about science and technology advancements. The partnership has addressed homeland security challenges in the areas of first responder technologies, border and maritime security, and cybersecurity, to name a few. To date, we have partnered on 17 projects totaling more than $25 million. Looking forward, we plan to create new opportunities to strengthen each country’s resilience. 

The BIRD Foundation accelerates cooperation between U.S. and Israeli companies in a wide-range of technology sectors. This fosters strategic partnerships between companies in both countries for the purpose of joint product development. In addition to providing conditional grants of up to $1 million for approved projects, the Foundation works with companies to identify potential strategic partners and facilitate introductions.

U.S. organizations, if you have an innovative solution for one of the HLS program areas, I encourage you to learn more and to apply. If you need assistance identifying an Israeli partner, BIRD will provide support. However, the April 3 deadline for submission of Executive Summaries is quickly approaching. 

For a full description of the Call for Proposals and timeline, visit the BIRD Foundation website.

S&T and Partners Launch Global Opioid Detection

March 4, 2019
7:24 am

The opioid crisis has devastated communities across America. In 2017, nearly 50,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses. At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we’re working with our interagency and international partners to stop the flow of illicit opioids across our borders and make our communities safer. As part of this effort, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) works to intercept illicit opioids entering the United States through the international mail.William N. Bryan; Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology. To bolster our multilayered defense approach, we need new tools and technology to help detect opioids trafficked through the mail.

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) makes it a priority to tap into cutting-edge security solutions. That’s why we recently launched the Opioid Detection Challenge, a $1.55 million USD prize competition calling upon innovators to submit novel plans for rapid, nonintrusive detection tools that will help find illicit opioids in international mail. The competition is in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).

The Challenge calls on innovators in a wide range of fields, from forensic science to industrial quality assurance to artificial intelligence, to help disrupt the flow of opioids into the United States. Submissions should be well-developed plans for automated, user-friendly tools and technologies that have the potential to quickly and accurately detect opioids in parcels, without disrupting the flow of mail. The Challenge is open to international and domestic participants, as defined in the Rules, Terms and Conditions.

Those interested in participating in the Challenge should submit their plans by 4:59 p.m. ET, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. The judges will evaluate the submissions and select up to eight finalists to advance to Stage 2 of the competition. Each finalist is expected to be awarded an equal share of the $800,000 Stage 1 prize pool. In Stage 2, finalists will participate in a 14-week prototyping accelerator, during which they will develop their plans into testable prototypes and compete for an additional $750,000 in cash prizes.

To learn more, join us for a live informational webinar on March 11, 2019 at 1:30 PM ET. The webinar will provide an in-depth overview of the Challenge and give attendees the opportunity to ask questions during a live Q&A. Register here.

Look for updates about the Challenge on S&T’s Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. Join the conversation using #OpioidDetection.

Three Chances to Connect with S&T in March

February 25, 2019
1:10 pm

The first week in March, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) will be in San Francisco exhibiting at RSA Conference 2019—the world’s largest cybersecurity event—from March 4-7 with its DHS operational partner, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This first-time exhibition partnership will enable S&T and CISA to communicate a joint cybersecurity vision to industry.

William N. Bryan. Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.In DHS booth 1565, three CISA leaders—Chris Butera, National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) deputy director; Brian Gattoni, Chief Technology Officer (CTO); and Kevin Cox, Program Manager, Continuous Diagnostics & Mitigation—will present short talks on their areas of responsibility. Additionally, 11 S&T-funded researchers will present demonstrations of their transition-ready cybersecurity and homeland security solutions. To see the list of tech demos, visit the RSA event page.

You can visit the DHS booth and the entire exhibit hall by registering for a complimentary exhibits-only pass and entering the special S&T guest code: XEU9DHSST.

S&T and CISA will also be at International Wireless Communications Expo March 4 to 8. To keep pace with tech advances and evolving threats, DHS wants to hear from you about your requirements so we can get you the tools and techniques you need to save lives. Connect with us there and learn how DHS is investing in solutions to make mission response operations more safe, secure, and resilient.

Finally, March 18-20, S&T will host the 2019 S&T Cybersecurity and Innovation Showcase at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington, D.C. This year’s theme—“Solutions Now, Innovations for the Future,”—highlights S&T’s support to DHS operational components, critical infrastructure and other customers and how we actively engage our stakeholders on the importance of cyber research and development (R&D) in today’s aggressive threat landscape. This three-day event spotlights the R&D of more than 130 innovative cybersecurity and homeland security technology solutions across 20 topic areas, encompassing $250 million of federally-funded R&D and ranging from early stage to mature, transition-ready technologies.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who headlines a stellar speaker roster, will deliver the keynote address March 18 and then will join a Fireside Chat focused on “Securing the Homeland” with Christopher Krebs, CISA director, and me.

Other prominent government and industry thought-leaders who will speak at Showcase are:

  • Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Army Lt. Col. Natalie Vanatta, National Cyber Protection Team Leader
  • Deborah Frincke, National Security Agency Research Director
  • Brian Gattoni, CISA CTO
  • Robert Schmidt, Founding Member, CyVantage

Additionally, there will be two days of technology demonstrations by more than 80 S&T cybersecurity, Silicon Valley Innovation Program and Transition to Practice performers along with eight S&T international partners demonstrating their “best-in-class” cybersecurity technologies.

You can access more information, the complete agenda and register for this free S&T event at the Showcase website.

I invite you to join us at these outstanding events.

Maintaining Our Commitment to Combatting Human Trafficking

February 11, 2019
10:47 am

An often invisible crime occurs closer than we think and to more people than we realize. Its victims number an estimated 20.9 million people globally. These victims commonly eschew help, fearing reprisals from not just the perpetrators but also law enforcement. Many victims and the societies they’re a part of misunderstand and fail to see the crime and, inevitably, the victims for what they truly are. What’s more, despite being largely inconspicuous, this crime generates billions of dollars in annual profits, only coming behind drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.William N. Bryan; Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.

So what crime could be so pervasive and profitable yet remain in the shadows and, in some cases, be socially acceptable? January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and while the month has past, I want to take a moment to reaffirm our dedication to protecting victims of human trafficking and bringing their perpetrators to justice. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has had a long history of developing and bringing technology to the frontlines of this fight:

  • The Port of Entry Forensics and Investigations Program helps combat transnational crime and investigate child exploitation and human trafficking through open source data and forensic analysis of material collected from suspicious packages and cargo.
  • Igloo, a data analytics software program, allows law enforcement officers to scour multiple data sources and then track, triangulate, and swiftly translate the telltale signs of criminal activity into actionable intelligence.
  • Rapid DNA, technology that expedites the testing of DNA, can support efforts in immigration, human trafficking prevention, reunification of family members following mass casualties, and DHS law enforcement investigations.

Today, our commitment to helping the women and men at the forefront of combatting human trafficking remains steadfast. We continue to identify technology that can be quickly deployed and to develop technology that can disrupt human trafficking on a large-scale – ensuring we use modern means to remain ahead of an ever changing criminal landscape. We are also determining what resources are already available, understanding who the organizational players are, and accounting for both the domestic and international perspectives of this transnational crime. We are helping to set metrics and measures that can be used to enhance the coordination of resources, as well as engaging academic institutions through our Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis Center of Excellence to innovate our approach to challenges in this area.

Ultimately – in spite of all this work to enhance coordination, strategy, and technology – we must remember that putting an end to human trafficking starts with awareness and acknowledging its existence in our communities. Let’s ensure we remain alert for those around us who may need help but don’t ask for it or who may simply not know they are victims.

For updates on what we’re doing to combat human trafficking, keep up with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Enter the Escape Respirator Prize Challenge

January 29, 2019
12:02 pm

In recent years, prize challenges have become a great way for government agencies to find solutions to some of the toughest hurdles facing our nation. Crowdsourcing multiple perspectives and ideas means we’re more likely to get results that are both impactful and cost-effective, and participants can learn from each other and the official feedback they receive. It’s in this spirit of friendly innovative competition that I invite you to submit your ideas for a prize challenge from William N. Bryan; Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T): The Escape Respirator Challenge.

Like our previous competitions, this challenge addresses safety and operational problems affecting homeland security officials. The Escape Respirator Challenge aims to improve escape respirators or hoods, which are personal protective equipment used to help the wearer quickly and safely evacuate from areas affected by aerosolized chemical, biological and radiological hazards. Based on feedback from DHS officials in the field, S&T has determined  two main shortcomings with escape hoods currently on the market.

Lack of compact design, so the escape respirator is heavy and can’t be carried in small space, like a suit coat inner pocket.

Lack of oxygen delivery, which makes them less effective in oxygen-deficient environments.

Currently available escape hoods address one of these issues, but users need both features, a compact design and oxygen delivery system, to be better protected from threats.

I know what many of you are wondering – how much can I win? S&T will award a total cash prize pool of $250,000 for the Escape Respirator Challenge, which will be distributed over two phases. In Phase I, each of the three finalists will receive $50,000. At the end of Phase II, one winner will be awarded $100,000.

If you’re interested in participating, you’ll need to register for the challenge by Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 5 PM EST. Once you’re registered, applications are due by Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 5:00pm EST. For full details about this competition and to complete your registration, visit the Escape Respirator website.

This is a great opportunity to see if your escape hood prototype is up to the test, and I encourage you to join the competition if you think your product can address the current design shortcomings. We’ll share updates about the finalists and winner in the months following the May deadline, so be sure to follow S&T on our social media channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.

I also encourage you to check the S&T website for information on new prize challenges as they’re announced. We keep a list of Current Competitions in one place to make it easy for you to find the challenge that’s right for you. Best of luck to all the participants!

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