Every month, the Department Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) posts a roundup of key updates from project currently in the development stages in S&T's First Responders Group (FRG). This article outlines FRG's accomplishments in January 2015.
National Conversation Launch
On January 12, DHS S&T launched the National Conversation on Homeland Security Technology—a series of online and in-person discussions intended to foster exchange between first responders, industry, government, academia and citizens. The goal: generate innovative homeland security solutions that will help keep our communities, and those who protect them, safe and resilient into the future.
In coming months, S&T will host a series of five dialogues to address different areas of need in the research and development community. The first forum, “Responder of the Future,” is now live and has hosted a spirted discussion and debate. It recently moved into the ideation phase. S&T invites members of the public to join the conversation and share thoughts on how future first responders can better adapt to changing environments, react quickly to threats or hazards, and serve their communities using integrated tools and technologies. How can S&T and FRG optimally design, develop, experiment, test and transition technologies in support of our nation’s responders? What are the most pressing needs related to situational awareness, responder health and safety, communication and training?
Any and all suggestions are welcome via the Responder of the Future community. This conversation is ongoing through April 10, 2015.
S&T Under Secretary NUSTL Visit
On January 13, DHS’s Under Secretary (U/S) for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers and FRG acting Director Jay Martin visited the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) in New York City. NUSTL supports the successful development, evaluation and transition of homeland security technologies into field use for law enforcement, fire and other emergency response agencies.
NUSTL Director Adam Hutter briefed the U/S on the lab’s history, mission and programs, and followed with a tour, which included discussions and demonstrations in NUSTL’s First Responder Training Center, Health Physics Laboratory, Gamma Room, Neutron Laboratory and Hardware Test and Evaluation Laboratory. After the visit, the group met with senior leadership of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the Port Authority of New York and the New Jersey Police Department and toured the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center and the World Trade Center Vehicle Screening Center.
“It was refreshing and valuable for me to talk directly with responders…about their experiences and concerns, and our opportunities to work together moving forward,” Dr. Brothers said. He stressed the importance of gathering responder feedback in person and via the National Conversation.
“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.”
Response and Defeat Operations
On January 22 and 23, at a testing range at Marine Corps Base Quantico, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) evaluated new techniques for defeating pipe bombs. DHS S&T’s Response and Defeat Operations (REDOPS) program funded the research that produced these innovations, which involve new procedures for using the Percussion Actuated Non-Electric (PAN) disrupter widely used against explosive devices. The PAN renders explosive devices harmless by firing into them any of a number of different projectiles (liquid, solid, shot, frangible) packed into 12-gauge blank shotgun shells. The innovations being tested will reduce the per-shot cost of using the PAN while increasing the device’s effectiveness and preventing detonations of explosive devices.
REDOPS aims to close the gap between state and local bomb squads’ current capabilities and the capabilities they need to handle the growing threat of domestic improvised explosive devices (IED). It is a cooperative effort involving the National Bomb Squad Commanders Advisory Board, the FBI Counter IED Unit and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
On January 27, FRG’s System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Response (SAVER) Program Manager Brian Warner hosted the first in a series of webinars highlighting the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Disaster Purchasing Program for First Responders. The series seeks to educate participants on how state and local government agencies may purchase disaster preparation, response or recovery equipment from all Federal Supply Schedules, as well as how SAVER reports can be leveraged to make more informed purchasing decisions.
GSA Multiple Award Schedule Program Office representative Tricia Scaglione co-presented on the inaugural webinar, which offered a general overview of SAVER and the Disaster Purchasing Program. Participants also received information on how to access the program, ordering guidelines and mandatory order language.
An archive of the presentation can be viewed here, and news of future webinars will be posted here on FirstResponder.gov and scitech.dhs.gov when available. Please send direct questions about FRG’s SAVER program to NUSTL@hq.dhs.gov.
FRCoP Message Board
On January 26, the First Responder Communities of Practice (FRCoP) networking and collaboration site launched a new site-wide message board where members, once logged in, can share thoughts and ideas, obtain feedback and rate discussions.
The message board is accessible directly from the FRCoP homepage and is a great place to promote an event, begin a discussion about topics of interest, or ask peers to rate an idea with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” The message board is the latest in a series of new FRCoP features and resources for first responders and others in related emergency preparedness and response fields. For more information on any of these new materials or how to create an account, contact email@example.com.
Improved Structure Firefighting Glove
On January 28, FRG released its latest video, “Improved Structure Firefighting Glove in 100 Seconds.” The video provides an overview of the glove and features members of the Rockville, Maryland Volunteer Fire Department testing it in simulated response scenarios.
The glove was designed using advanced textiles and materials; it increases flexibility and dexterity, improves don- and doffability when wet, and meets National Fire Protection Association 1971 standards for protection. Developed in partnership with Shelby Specialty Gloves, the gloves will be commercially available from the company beginning February 1.
Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE III)
On January 30, FRG hosted the latest installment of the #STTechTalk Twitter chat series highlighting the third Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resilience Experiment (CAUSE III). The chat served as a virtual discussion about lessons learned during the cross-border experiment, as well as next steps related to the use of social media to enhance situational awareness, the integration of digital volunteers into operations, and technology gaps relating to the use of technology to support both.
FRG and partners from Defence Research and Development Canada shared observations, challenges and lessons learned, as well as policy, process, technology and information gaps identified during the CAUSE III experiment. In addition to laying groundwork for potential future CAUSE experiments, this feedback will help inform suggestions S&T will share with developers at the upcoming #disastertech hackathon at the International Disaster Conference and Expo on February 7-8.
A transcript of the chat can be viewed by searching the #STTechTalk hashtag.
To learn more about the items listed in the January 2015 Project Roundup, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.