DHS Science and Technology Directorate's (S&T's) SCITI Labs initiative leverages cutting-edge Smart City and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to deliver new capabilities to DHS components and to enhance public safety in communities across the country. SCITI brings together key government and private sector partners to identify new and existing technologies that both meet first responders’ operational needs and enhance commercial buildings, ensuring the nation’s critical infrastructure and those who protect it are secure and resilient.
About SCITI Labs
S&T established the SCITI (pronounced “city”) Labs initiative in collaboration with the Center for Innovative Technology, TechNexus and Smart City Works to focus on applying new and existing technologies to public safety and national security needs, with an emphasis on extensive validation and go-to-market support through industry partners. In its first year, the SCITI Labs partnership funded development and initial testing of several prototype technologies in three overarching capability areas:
- Autonomous navigation for indoor Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
- Intelligent building sensor suite (digital imagery, video, thermal or Wi-Fi finder)
- Body-worn interoperable communications platform
“Commercial First” Approach
S&T is adding value at the intersection of Smart Cities and IoT by taking a two-phased approach. First, after a highly competitive selection process, 12 performers were awarded funding in Phase I to develop initial prototypes of UAS, in building sensors and a SmartHub. SCITI Labs identified new and existing technologies in these areas, assessed prototype capabilities and gained end-user and stakeholder input—particularly from industry partners who are critical to bringing these tools to market.
Looking toward the future, S&T is leveraging this “commercial first” approach by working with technology innovation companies, government public safety officials, infrastructure owners and private sector investment partners to further design, develop and operationally test and evaluate these capabilities for commercial adoption. To achieve this, in coming months S&T will implement a streamlined path-to-market process focused on technologies that are useable, affordable and scalable to suit the mission needs of responders and industry.
Autonomous navigation for indoor UAS: support for indoor search and rescue in difficult environments, such as tunnels or collapsed or damaged structures, where missions are difficult and endanger responders and those they aim to rescue.
Intelligent building sensor suite (digital imagery, video, thermal or Wi-Fi finder): development of intelligent suites (digital imagery, video, thermal or Wi-Fi finder) that can be mounted on fixed indoor building features, such as smoke detectors or exit signs. This will allow building operators to improve day-to-day operations of building owners/operators and first responders to rapidly prioritize search and rescue areas when emergencies occur.
Body-worn interoperable platform: development of a SmartHub that integrates personal area network communications with third-party sensor packages. The SmartHub will enhance emergency responder situational awareness and support enhanced mission-critical operations.
SCITI Phase I Performers
- Airgility, Inc. developed 3D printable multi-mission UAS, designed to conduct search and rescue operations in degraded environments; their systems can be used on the ground or in the air.
- CommandWear Systems, Inc. developed a situational awareness software platform designed to improve the accuracy and speed of response while enhancing responder safety. Using tablets, smartphones and smartwatches, the platform can help with asset tracking, event playback, two-way messaging, and biometric monitoring in order to improve response time and accuracy, and enhance personnel safety.
- Coolfire Solutions developed a platform that integrates multiple data systems and sensors and supports real-time incident management, multi-directional communication, mapping, tracking, and reporting activities.
- EcoDomus, Inc. focused on modeling buildings in 3D, using standards-based Building Information Modeling, to improve the ways buildings are designed, built, managed and retrofitted.
- Excession Technologies Ltd.’s platform offers mass scale data processing, asset tracking, real-time analytics and incorporates multiple sensor types, as well as video, photo, and audio sharing.
- Known Quantity Sensors, Inc. developed a proprietary software and IoT edge sensor platform that uses artificial intelligence-backed, image-based processing to quantify and locate human occupancy.
- Mutualink, Inc. developed a secure multimedia communications network that enables real-time exchange and sharing of any media between any agencies, over any networks and provides unified agency communications capabilities.
- Third Insight’s software converts off-the-shelf unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into artificially intelligent, autonomous vehicles. The UAVs can act autonomously to find signs of life or search out, identify and track targets of interest. Real-time video, 3D mapping and sensor fusion are used to navigate indoors and in environments where GPS is intermittent or unavailable.
- The University of Cincinnati used ultrasound and other sensors to localize, map and navigate indoor and unstructured environments for UAS.
- The University of Dayton developed an open, secure, expandable platform to connect various sensors and actuators; the platform has a base visualization system and can perform command and control operations of these devices.
- Wireless System Solutions, LLC developed end-to-end multi-standard/band wireless network solutions that provide connectivity from the macro cellular network to the end point gateway and/or sensor.
- Zello’s system is a fluid LTE-to-LMR push-to-talk solution. Their app is founded on “live” voice and can be used anywhere in the world with a smartphone. It is a low-cost, reliable, secure alternative to traditional radios, and is also being widely adopted by the public, additionally enabling selective public communications.
Phase I Initial Successes
During Phase I, the SCITI Labs technology performers demonstrated the applicability of their technologies to public safety operations and the potential overall impact, such as improved first responder efficiency and situational awareness.
During a simulated search and identify scenario, responders were able to adjust baseline operating procedures using the information provided by SCITI Labs technologies—changing the building ingress point based on video data, donning protective gear outside instead of inside because of a gas sensor reading or modifying clearance patterns based on sensor detection of individuals inside buildings.
Although the SCITI Labs technologies are at different stages of product maturity, a number of the technologies funded in Phase I have already demonstrated impact in the market and to the public safety community.
Two of the SCITI Labs technologies—CommandWear and Zello—were found to be mature enough to graduate. These SmartHub technologies are now commercially available to DHS components and the public safety community.
Phase II launched in April 2019. S&T selected eight industry partners for Phase II activities. Over the next 12 months, the team will take a more “commercial first” approach, implementing a streamlined commercialization process focused on technologies that are useable, affordable and scalable to suit the mission needs of DHS components, first responders and industry.
Operational evaluations will be conducted, providing the opportunity for continued technology enhancement, refinement, and application to customer requirements. These events will be closely coordinated with DHS S&T stakeholders from the first response community, DHS components, and partners from the private sector and will showcase how these capabilities could be used during search and rescue operations and the protection of soft targets.
Performers for Phase II include:
- Airgility, Inc., Reston, Virginia (UAS)
- Third Insight, Austin, Texas (UAS)
- One Engineering, LLC, Monument, Colorado (UAS)
- Coolfire Solutions, St. Louis, Missouri (SmartHub)
- Excession Technologies Ltd., London, United Kingdom (SmartHub)
- EcoDomus, Inc., Reston, Virginia (Sensors)
- Mutualink, Inc., Wallingford, Connecticut (Sensors)
- Datakwip Holdings, LLC, Reston, Virginia (Sensors)
Next Steps and Path Forward
Phase II will include demonstrations of the indoor UAS capabilities with domestic and international first responders, as part of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium activities in summer 2019. Additionally, DHS S&T is working with George Mason University on the deployment of SCITI Labs capabilities for use within their Eagle Bank Stadium. A large exercise will be conducted at Eagle Bank Stadium in late 2019 with local first responders, DHS components, and private sector partners.
SCITI Press Materials
- Fact Sheet: Smart City Internet of Things Innovation (SCITI)
- Fact Sheet: SCITI Labs: Autonomous Platforms Fact Sheet
- Snapshot: S&T is Delivering Emerging Smart Cities Technologies to First Responders, Industry
- News Release: Smart Cities Initiative Poised to Break the Commercialization Barrier
- News Release: S&T Partners with New Innovators to Bring Smart Cities Technologies to First Responders
- News Release: DHS S&T Seeks Innovators to Collaborate on Smart Cities Technologies
- News Release: DHS S&T Awards $4.8 Million to Center for Innovative Technology to Enhance Smart Cities