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Homeland Security calls for smart city innovators

The goal is to put smart city and IoT capabilities into the hands of first responders by 2020

DHS wants to invest in technology that increases first responder safety and efficiency
DHS wants to invest in technology that increases first responder safety and efficiency

The Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a call for innovators to collaborate on smart city technologies.


S&T and its research and development (R&D) partners are seeking to prototype, test and transition cutting-edge emergency response technologies. The department said its goal is to put tools with smart city and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities into the hands of first responders by 2020.


“We welcome every opportunity to engage the innovation community in our R&D efforts,” said Dan Cotter, director of S&T’s first responders group.


“This [request for innovators] (RFI) is part of a larger smart cities effort announced in September to spur economic growth and invest in the men and women who protect our communities. We look forward to collaborating to increase first responder safety and efficiency.”


S&T and its partners at the Centre for Innovative Technology, Smart City Works and TechNexus are seeking capabilities to support first responders in three specific areas:

  • Autonomous navigation for indoor drones in support of search and rescue missions in difficult environments, such as fire or earthquake damaged structures. Separate sensor prototypes are also sought: a wi-fi finder sensor for smart phone signals and a thermal sensor for detecting the heat signatures of people or other living creatures
  • Indoor building sensor suite (digital image, video, thermal or wi-fi finder) to be mounted on fixed indoor building features, such as smoke detectors or exit signs. Sensor processing will be able to establish a baseline layout of indoor space and detect changes when events impact interiors and/or occupants
  • Body-worn responder interoperability platform that integrates personal area network communications with third-party sensor packages. This Smart Hub will also communicate with non-body-worn sensors, such as smart building and smart city technologies, and responders would use it for situational awareness and to support enhanced mission-critical operations.

DHS S&T invites parties to express interest by 18 January 2018, with invited final responses due by 15 February 2018. Final selection will be announced in March 2018. Selected performers will be funded at $50,000 for an initial first cut prototype.


Some will be selected for a second funded validation prototype (at $100,000) over a total period of 18 months. The goal at the end of the second round is to have commercially-relevant capabilities that are also ready as a minimum viable product for initial field testing with responders.


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