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  1. Science and Technology
  2. Research & Development
  3. First Responder Capability
  4. Program Fact Sheets, Reports and Videos
  5. Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for Emergency Responders (POINTER)


The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate teamed with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop POINTER, groundbreaking first responder tracking technology that uses magnetoquasistatic fields to three-dimensionally locate responders during emergencies—especially when visibility is low due to heavy smoke or debris. With POINTER, incident command can pinpoint team members to within centimeters.

First responder location shown within a cube What are Magnetoquasistatic (MQS) Fields?

MQS fields are magnetic fields with very slow temporal variations and that appear static, just like the Earth’s magnetic field. MQS fields penetrate most natural materials—as a result, they are used in a broad array of sensor applications, especially where line-of-sight is compromised. 

Learn more about MQS fields and how POINTER uses them to locate first responders.

Phone icon: The POINTER receiver worn by first responders is currently size of a cell phone and weighs just ounces. 1 meter: During recent testing, POINTER was able to accurately locate responders in 3D to within 1 meter and often within 1 centimeter. 70 meters: In recent tests, the POINTER system tracked multiple first responders from a standoff distance of up to 70 meters.

Still want to know more about POINTER?

Let us ‘point’ you in the right direction! Reach out to S&T on social media at @DHSSciTech or contact POINTER@hq.dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 12/01/2023
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