DHS nurtures wearable tech for responders

DHS drafts handbook for responder tech integration

As the number of devices, apps, network and situational awareness tools for first responders multiplies,  the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate has developed a handbook for developing and managing such technologies. The Next Generation First Responder Integration Handbook outlines a “plug-and-play,” standards-based environment designed to enable commercially developed technologies to work with existing first responder infrastructure.

The NGFR Integration Handbook identifies standards, interfaces and data flows so public safety agencies can integrate various hardware, software and data into their own public safety systems.

"The age of large, proprietary and disconnected first responder systems is ending," the handbook states, so the key to the NGFR integration model is a modular system that allows responders to select components with  open standards and interfaces that can easily be integrated into  their own public safety systems. The model also emphasizes scalability so responder agencies can build systems that meet their mission needs and budget.

Through this standards-based guidance, S&T also aims to make it easier for entrepreneurs to compete in the first responder marketplace, which should lower costs and increase choices for public safety organizations.

The NGFR Integration Handbook has three parts, with each section containing increasing technical detail. The introduction reviews the basic components that make up the Responder SmartHub  --  the on-body sensor and communications networks that make integration possible.  The second section, on engineering design, presents a more-detailed technical review of the components and the interoperability standards.  The technical supplement explores the programming required for data and software integration. It also includes a full list of program requirements that have been defined in partnership with first responders to help industry develop technologies that meet user needs.

DHS S&T invites feedback to improve the level of detail of the technical specifications. Interested parties should email NGFR@hq.dhs.gov to receive the required comment matrix.

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