Emerging First Responder Technologies
By Megan Bixler
The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate’s First Responders Group (DHS S&T FRG) has developed a program to identify capability gaps within the first responder community. This technology identification goes through the a rigorous selection process while having the stipulation of a truncated timeframe and budget. Since technology is ever changing, these projects are meant to be 12-15 months for development with a proposal of under $1 million per project. For a government agency to set these goals for new technology development (and be successful) is truly astonishing. These goals are accomplished through rapid prototyping to satisfy identified requirements.
How are these capability gaps identified? This development process starts with local, state, tribal, federal, and association first responders communicating through various methods the need for a new technology. Once DHS S&T FRG receives this request, it goes through the accelerated government acquisitions lifecycle to develop the new technology.
What happens after the new technology is developed? For DHS S&T FRG, the measurement of success for any particular project is successful commercialization. After the new technology is developed, a transition plan is identified for commercialization to ensure that the new technology is available to all first responders. There are several projects that DHS S&T FRG recently started commercializing. Two of those projects are the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) Virtual Training Environment and Firefighter Structure Glove.
DHS S&T partnered with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and the U.S. Army Simulation and Training Technology Center (STTC) to develop this training technology. EDGE is a virtual training platform designed to allow first responders to participate in complex training scenarios to improve coordination efforts and communications while practicing to mitigate injuries and loss of life. This training platform is meant to allow first responders to virtually hone their skills when not participating in a live exercise. This platform will save money while ensuring that first responder skills are practiced.
Firefighter Structure Glove
Firefighters have been using the same structure glove for too many years. The old structure glove was very bulky and often was lacking in the amount of protection that firefighters need to keep their hands safe while working. Movements required for modern tools were too often difficult; to overcome this firefighters removed their gloves in order to complete their tasks. DHS S&T FRG has developed a less bulky updated glove that allows the firefighters to accomplish all of their tasks while protecting their hands. The new Firefighter Structure Glove has advanced materials that allow this glove to function as designed. Once the gloves are NFPA-certified, they will be available for commercial purchase.
Click here to learn more about DHS S&T FRG
Click here to learn more about the EDGE platform
Click here to learn more about the Firefighter Structure Glove