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US DHS evaluates smart building tech in active shooter exercise

Real-time information in an emergency could help responders more quickly determine the location of people and the type and severity of the emergency, monitor on-scene conditions and find victims.

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Image: George Mason Athletics (image not during the active shooter exercise)
Image: George Mason Athletics (image not during the active shooter exercise)

The United States’ Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) ran a live active shooter exercise at George Mason University’s (GMU) 10,000-seat Eagle Bank Arena to evaluate a suite of in-building sensors.

 

Hundreds of first responders, researchers and volunteers participated, along with technology companies and Virginia political and business leaders.

 

The exercise aimed to demonstrate how smart building technologies, such as Wi-Fi detectors, blue force tracking, LiDAR occupancy detectors, particulate and environmental sensors and 2D/3D visualization tools, can inform daily operations and improve public safety and response effectiveness in emergency situations.

 

The exercise aimed to demonstrate how smart building technologies can inform daily operations and improve public safety and response effectiveness in emergency situations.

 

The data from these tools was pulled together into an integrated sensor platform to facilitate analytics and automated alerts.

 

Real-time data

 

Such real-time information in an emergency could help responders more quickly determine the location of people and the type and severity of the emergency, monitor on-scene conditions and find victims.

 

Technology partners included EcoDomus, Inc., Mutualink, Inc., and Datakwip Holdings, who developed their solutions through the Smart City Internet of Things Innovation (SCITI) Labs initiative. SCITI is a collaboration between the Center for Innovative Technology, TechNexus and Smart City Works and is focused on applying new and existing technologies to public safety and national security needs through public-private collaboration.

 

“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,” said William Bryan, senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for Science and Technology at the DHS.

 

“Virginia is proud and honoured to host and participate in the SCITI Labs programme. 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,” commented Brian Moran, Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. “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.”

 

Scaling solutions

 

Bryan said the next challenge is scaling the solutions into mainstream critical infrastructure to give universities and schools the tools to prepare for and respond to incidents, both natural and ‘man-made’.

 

The next challenge is scaling the solutions into mainstream critical infrastructure.

 

The SCITI Labs team, along with industry partners, will continue to develop the tools and drive towards adoption.

 

According to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the United States, there have been 381 mass shootings to date in 2019. Of these, 29 were classed as mass murders.

 

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