indoor IoT (metamorworks/

Smart cities initiative tests in-building IoT in active shooter exercise

More than 70 first responders tested a new collaboration system that featured real-time video sharing, advanced building sensors and smart-building technologies in a Nov. 18 exercise designed to prepare for active-shooter scenarios and other disasters, both manmade and natural.

Led by the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) Smart City IoT Innovation Labs in Virginia and powered by technology from Mutualink, a provider of interoperability solutions for first responders, the active-shooter exercise at George Mason University's Eagle Bank Arena in Fairfax successfully demonstrated faster, more effective emergency response capabilities.

The company deployed its Internet of Public Safety Things (IoPST) network and technologies throughout the arena to test how they would support public safety and response effectiveness in emergencies. Sensors and cameras connected to the network provided situational awareness, and the data was shared securely in real time with mutual-aid partners, enabling the creation of real-time video and data visualizations within an interactive map-based floorplan interface.

Sensors and displays from other partners supported the testing of Wi-Fi detectors, blue-force tracking, LiDAR occupancy detectors, particulate and environmental sensors along with 2D/3D visualization tools. Datakwip supplied the analytics platform, EcoDomus created a digital twin of the facility, and InnerSpace provided its Wi-Fi-based indoor location platform, including first-responder tracking capabilities.

Everything was integrated into a single sensor platform that supported facility analytics and automated alerting, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security, whose Smart City Initiative funded the event.

“This event demonstrates what homeland security research and development is all about: bringing operational users together with academia and public- and private-sector partners to invest in technologies that keep our citizens safe,” William Bryan, the DHS senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for science and technology, said in the statement.

On the day of the exercise, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran announced a four-year, $19 million contract award to CIT from DHS to continue its research into smart building technologies that support first responders and public safety.

“Given the number of emerging threats and challenges our public-safety officials face on a daily basis, we must seek out new technology to help better protect our communities,” Moran said in a press statement. “The rapid development, implementation, and testing of new technologies, such as the building sensors and connected technology seen demonstrated at George Mason University, will greatly assist our efforts to better protect our public."

DHS’ Smart City Initiative is a multiphase competitive delivery process for tech companies that have been tasked with designing, developing and demonstrating capabilities that can meet evolving homeland security needs. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate announced the eight participants in May.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.


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