When it comes to equipping the Responder of the Future — the ultimate first responder who is protected, connected, and fully aware — many voices need to be part of the conversation. These voices include those of researchers, designers, innovators, technologists, manufacturers, behavioral scientists, police and fire chiefs, policy experts, and above all, the responders themselves. Each voice in the discussion contributes an important perspective to solving the challenge of how best to equip the responder for success.
User-driven innovation is the key to success. We need to fully understand and vet the critical needs a responder has upon entering a high-risk environment if we are to provide them with workable solutions. Identifying those needs can be difficult, especially when you push past immediate needs to look ahead to future needs.
That’s why the multi-faceted approach of the National Conversation on Homeland Security Technology that the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) launched this month is so important. Each component of the conversation – online dialog, face-to-face discussions, and speaking engagements – is an opportunity to gather information about the experience of those who can help inform the solutions.
It is critical for those of us at S&T, who strive to help responders work more safely, quickly and efficiently, to hear from the end users of any proposed solution. We do this at every available opportunity. Last week, I visited S&T’s National Urban Security Technology Laboratory in New York City, which works with responders to test, evaluate and analyze technologies both in the field and in the lab. It was refreshing and valuable for me to talk directly with responders from the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about their experiences and concerns, and our opportunities to work together moving forward.
Our current dialogue within the National Conversation is an online discussion with everyone who plays a role in keeping our responders safe and effective. While I can’t get to every single police department or fire department across America, I do want to hear from everyone. I encourage all responders to take part in our discussion and help us develop the Responder of the Future.
Visit our site and see how current events are driving this discussion about future capabilities.
Dr. Reginald Brothers
Under Secretary for Science and Technology