Emerging technologies are a constant topic of conversation in the first responder community, focusing on the latest and greatest technologies relevant across every domain, from law enforcement to hazmat, fire and medical. To facilitate these conversations, the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) dedicated three of their New York Area Science and Technology (NYAST) forums to discuss emerging NGFR technologies.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) program works with industry-leading partners to develop technologies with a focus on making responders better protected, connected and fully aware. Throughout the development process, the NGFR program engages with the first responder community in order to showcase technologies and gain vital feedback.
Developed and managed by NUSTL, the NYAST forums are a platform used to promote and discuss advances in science and technology applications. More than 450 NYAST members, representing a consortium of government organizations, first responder agencies, private sector companies, and academic groups, have attended forums at NUSTL. Held quarterly, NYAST forums provide a unique opportunity for S&T to gather essential feedback from the individuals who will use the technology most frequently, bridging the gap between development and operational use and practical applications.
The NGFR series began last October with the first installment: “Fully Aware: Making Informed Decisions that Save Lives.” NYAST audience members were provided an overview of the NGFR program and introduced to the technology solutions related to situational awareness that can assist first responders in making the most informed decisions. These advances in awareness technologies include indoor tracking, heads-up displays and the Assistant for Understanding Data Through Reasoning Extraction and Synthesis (AUDREY), a human-like reasoning program for automated big data analytics.
In March the second forum, entitled “Protected: Defending Against Life-Threatening Hazards,” drew more than 45 NYAST members from organizations including the New York City Police Department, New York City Fire Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Consolidated Edison, Inc. Speakers from the DHS S&T First Responder Technologies (R-Tech) Division, which works to strengthen responders’ ability to protect the homeland through rapid technology development, honed in on the technologies being developed to protect first responders from the hazards they face every day. R-Tech Program Manager Bill Deso and R-Tech Deputy Director Bill Stout discussed a select group of protected technologies including the Multi Threat Base Ensemble personal protective equipment , Burn Saver Thermal Sensor, Improved Structure Firefighting Glove and Physiological Monitoring Sensors.
Prototypes, such as the Wireless Physiological and Environmental Monitoring (WiPEM), were circulated around the NYAST audience during the forum. R-Tech Division Director Greg Price discussed both NGFR and R-Tech programs, and explained how they work together to provide cutting edge technology solutions that can improve first responders’ protection and safety.
“Why does it even matter? It really all comes down to being protected, connected, fully aware and saving you guys time,” said Price.
“So what we are trying to do, through NGFR, is give you additional minutes that are going to help you do a number of things through better personal protective equipment, and allow you to stay connected with better technologies by putting communications hubs on the first responder.”
In June, NYAST 38 completed the series with a forum entitled “Connected: Having a Lifeline When it’s Needed Most.” This forum highlighted various NGFR technologies being developed to bridge the gaps within communications systems that are crucial for responders during emergencies. The DHS S&T Director of the Office for Interoperability and Compatibility and NGFR Program Manager John Merrill presented an overview of the NGFR program that tied together each of the technology solutions underway at DHS S&T. Representatives from Balfour Technologies conducted a comprehensive demonstration of the Machine-to-Machine (M2M), an Internet of Things architecture that focuses on network connectivity to improve the ability of wired and wireless technologies. To showcase the intersection of NGFR technologies, representatives from National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory demonstrated the AUDREY’s integration with the Android Tactical Awareness Kit.
Overall, the NYAST series of forums collectively showcased the important role of next generation first responder technologies in the first responder community. NUSTL’s next NYAST forum topic will focus on unmanned aerial systems (UAS) threats and countering-UAS methods to first responders early next year. Additionally, In FY17 NUSTL will be expanding this program by launching a Chicago Area Science and Technology forum that will be facilitated through NUSTL-Chicago.
For more information on NYAST forums and membership, please click here.