DHS nurtures wearable tech for responders

Coding challenge to strengthen emergency response

Civic coders are invited to participate in the Tech to Protect Challenge, a national open innovation contest designed to help emergency responders protect communities nationwide.

The program is offering more than $2 million in prizes to improve centralized mobile dashboards, GIS mapping of LTE coverage areas, augmented reality applications, enhanced digital security and tracking of responder and patient health. The federally funded program will be led by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology's Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division.

This series of regional codeathons will be hosted in 10 communities across the country, but online participants can submit prototypes and solutions to the contests between June 1 and Nov. 15.  Developers will have access to researchers, scientists and public-safety experts to help them their submissions.

“The Tech to Protect Challenge is the first-of-its-kind for the public safety industry,” NIST PSCR chief Dereck Orr said. “This initiative will energize and link creative minds from all walks of life with the goal of creating groundbreaking solutions to improve the safety of their communities.”

The challenge is supported by the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T, the company responsible for building out FirstNet, the nationwide public safety broadband network.

With FirstNet focusing attention on public safety communications, new applications, technologies and software are being developed to support responders' lifesaving mission, FirstNet CTO Jeff Bratcher said.  “Emergency responders deserve the best tools and highest level of innovation to help them save lives and protect communities, [and] Tech to Protect Challenge will help drive the creation of these vital technologies.”

The Tech to Protect Challenge is also supported by SecondMuse, the global innovation accelerator behind NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, and the RedFlash Group, a national public safety consulting firm.

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