For scientific thinking and innovation to succeed, we must continually engage with end users and industry partners. We use conferences, speaking engagements, roundtables and other outreach events to guide our path and refine how we conduct research and development (R&D) for Department of Homeland Security components and our nation. One way we reach out directly to our first responders is through our First Responder Resource Group (FRRG) Annual Meeting. We bring responders from across the nation together to identify current technology gaps, assist in requirements gathering for new product and technology ideas, and participate in testing and evaluation as technologies transition from the development cycle to commercialization.
Drawn from law enforcement, fire, emergency medical, search and rescue, and emergency management, FRRG is a volunteer organization that helps us identify capability gaps, set priorities and requirements, and evaluate the newest responder tools.
This year, we collaboratively tackled several challenging topics:
- Cybersecurity, decision-making support and incident management
- Threat monitoring, data modeling/assessment and responder deployment
- Communication, interoperability and compatibility
- Emerging technology needs
- Explosive ordinance disposal
- Canine-related operations
From these topics came 18 Statements of Objectives (SOO) documents. After additional research and refinement, they will serve as the basis for our Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) solicitation and next year's projects for S&T’s First Responders Group.
This was also another opportunity to continue our National Conversation on Homeland Security Technology directly with first responders. This important exchange of ideas and unique opportunity to share responders’ technology needs allows S&T to prioritize projects within our research and development process to identify and provide new science and technology for the first responder public safety community.
This platform is also the perfect opportunity to share updates on our efforts to make the nation’s first responders more connected, protected and fully aware through the Next Generation First Responder Apex program. We communicated our progress in developing textiles that can withstand multiple responder threats. And, we shared our success in developing FINDER - technology for use in search and rescue operations.
This type of forum drives innovation through idea exchange, allows everyone involved to exchange operational knowledge and expertise across disciplines and jurisdiction, and expands and shares a common understanding of first responders’ challenges. It’s also a mechanism for S&T to reach out and obtain crucial information we need to do our jobs well. For more information about the FRRG, see our 100-second video. We thank the members of the FRRG for helping us to keep the conversation going.
Stay tuned to the S&T Events page for other opportunities to share your thoughts with S&T to help us find and develop the innovative technology and solutions to make our nation safer.