This Tech Speak mini episode takes you inside the recent National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) Urban Operational Experimentation (OpEx) event held in New York City in July 2022. Hear from NUSTL Director Alice Hong and Test Lead Bhargav Patel about why S&T hosts the event and why it is so critical to engage industry in first responder R&D. You’ll also hear from two responders directly: Chief Kevin McNamara of the New York City Fire Department shares how drones help him and his fellow firefighters tackle challenges they face in the field, and Officer Jason Rubenstein of the New York City Police Department discusses the importance of hands-on vetting of new technologies.
- National Urban Security Technology Laboratory
- Urban OpEx—New York City Is a Testbed for First Responder Tech
- DHS Concludes Innovative Technology OpEx
- S&T Seeks to Test Innovative First Responder Technologies at Urban OpEx 2022
- S&T NUSTL Urban OpEx Fact Sheet
- NUSTL Urban Op-Ex - YouTube
- Recorded on: July 22, 2022
Guests: NUSTL Director Alice Hong, Test Lead Bhargav Patel, Chief Kevin McNamara of the New York City Fire Department, and Jason Rubenstein of the New York City Police Department.
[00:00:00] Clifford Freer: I'm very impressed with the technology today. I'm more of a hands-on kind of guy, and to see how consistently the software integration for the cameras worked in detecting the firearms and everything. I was very impressed. In the world of emergency response time is everything. So, if I get back 30 seconds, that's great, but if I can get back three minutes or 10 minutes, it's even better.
[00:00:18] Dave: Welcome to Tech Speak, a mini episode of the Technologically Speaking Podcast. I'm Dave, an editor for S&T. This summer, our podcast team attended the 2022 Urban Operational Experimentation, or Urban OpEx event in New York City, where they had the unique opportunity to watch first responders explore seven new and emerging technologies. At the start of this mini episode, you heard Clifford Freer of New York City Emergency Management explain just a bit about why hands-on testing and evaluation can be so critical to first responders. Now let's hear from Alice Hong, director of S&T's National Urban Security Technology Laboratory, or NUSTL as she explains why we host this event.
[00:00:56] Alice Hong: Urban Operational Experimentation is all about bringing together the public safety community with developers in an environment where we can cut past some of the product marketing and really get first responders hands on in hopes that those technologies will allow them to do their jobs more safely and in turn, hopefully allow them to better serve the communities that they're supposed to protect. This presents a really great opportunity for them to learn about these new technologies as well as kick the tires and really understand how these technologies will perform in the field before they purchase them. It also presents a really unique opportunity for the technology developers who gain really valuable feedback from first responder evaluators that can potentially enhance their technologies to make them more field ready. What we learn here with our New York City partners and technology developers will be shared with our public safety community across the nation. We want to get the right tools in the hands of first responders because it has the potential to save lives, and it's events like Urban OpEx that helps us to uncover what some of those right tools might be.
[00:02:10] Dave: You heard Alice speak about the importance of understanding the challenges first responders face in the field. Now we're going to hear Chief Kevin McNamara from the New York City Fire Department talk about how drones can help him and his colleagues address some of the challenges they face while in the field.
[00:02:24] Kevin McNamara: Today we're looking at drone technology, which I think can be a big help for the FDNY I think if we had a large incidents, it would be good to have a different perspective, a different view of that incident from the air, obviously. And I like the idea of a drone getting out in front of some of our units to let them know what they're approaching, what they're going into. It'd be nice to know if fire was blowing out the windows before we arrived at the fire, we could set up a plan and be more effective. It's automated, self-driven. That's what I would be looking for. The fire department is a very traditional job. We don't change easily, but this, new technologies can help us save lives, and that's ultimately the bottom line. We wanna save lives. We want to keep our firefighters safe. So, we'll look at these technologies and hopefully it'll help us do that.
[00:03:15] Dave: It's interesting to hear how drones can help warn firefighters about what they're approaching and what they're going into. Now we hear Jason Rubenstein, a police officer with a New York City Police Department, talk about the importance of vetting new technologies.
[00:03:28] Jason Rubenstein: It's important for us to vet new technology and also, research and development, more advances because after a certain amount of years things get obsolete, so it's always important to be on the cutting edge. NUSTL helps us with that. They help us to research, a lot of different capabilities, and different technologies that we not, might not be able to do with our department. So it's very helpful with NUSTL that comes in and they'll show us what's out there and then help us test it and evaluate it. So that, that's very important. Because again, we have to be one step ahead of the bad guys. So, if we don't know what's out there or haven't tested it thoroughly, we might not be ahead of the game. We might be behind the eight ball. So, it's important to always stay ahead.
[00:04:07] Dave: We'll end the episode with Bhargav Patel, NUSTL's test lead who sums up Urban OpEx best.
[00:04:12] Bhargav Patel: One of the things that's really fulfilling about this type of event is you get, more immediate gratification. Usually you're spending weeks writing long, test plans and researching technologies. And when you come out to a place like this, you get to see it all in action. And you get to hear right away what first responders like and don't like. you feel like you're helping, right? You get to see it in their eyes. You get to, understand, how this might help their mission and help them do their jobs more effectively, safer.
[00:04:39] Dave: S&T is really committed to working with first responders to ensure they have technology they need to get the job done. I enjoyed learning about this event and how emerging tech can keep them safe. Information and data collected during the 2022 Urban OpEx is published in a series of reports on our website and all of season one of technologically speaking can also be accessed from. So be sure to check out scitech.DHS.gov.
[00:05:02] Thanks for listening, and be sure to follow us at DHS SCITECH DHS, S C I T E C H. Bye.