Top 5 NIST PSCR Articles of 2022

This has been a banner year for NIST. Public Safety Communications Investigation (PSCR) Division. PSCR organized its first face-to-face annual meeting Public Safety Broadband Stakeholders Meeting since 2019, we closed the $300 million we received from the Public Safety Trust Fund, we opened the doors to the Public Safety Immersive Test Center, and much more. We would like to thank our stakeholders and readers for their participation in helping us carry out our mission of advancing communications technology to ensure that public safety can more effectively protect lives and property.

Check out the top five most viewed articles of 2022 below, and be sure to continue following them into the new year!

A man modeling a hardhat talks to two others standing behind a table in a conference hotel.

Stakeholder engagement is a central part of the NIST Public Safety Communications Research Program. Here, Dereck Orr (right) speaks to attendees at the 2019 PSCR stakeholder meeting.

NIST PSCR used the $300 million to engage external partners through grants, cooperative agreements, and prize challenges in ways never seen before in public safety communications. We established the Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program (PSIAP) to stimulate R&D to transform public safety communications capabilities. And because of this, we’ve helped build an entire network of researchers, scientists, innovators, and companies that now consider improving public safety communications as part of their mission. We’ve seen venture capital funding go to some of these for current and future product development, and other products are already on the way to market. This funding allowed us to make a significant difference in public safety communications technology research. While the $300 million funding from the Public Safety Trust Fund has come to an end, PSCR will continue its research and development mission to advance communications technology for first responders.

CommandING Tech Award Challenge Participants will take advantage of next-generation technology such as 3D laser scans of buildings, indoor location tracking technology, video analytics, the Internet of Things, and personal area data networks, and learn how to integrate them to deliver command panels for easy-to-use, high-functioning incidents for first responders. Participants can submit dashboards designed in virtual reality, augmented reality, web-based, mobile, etc., but must ensure that the dashboard is accessible for use in a mobile environment by first responders. Phase 3 will culminate in an in-person lab evaluation where the developed boards will be tested at a Department of Commerce lab facility in Boulder, Colorado in January 2023.

PSCR 2022

Graphic for PSCR Annual Stakeholder Conference 2022.

Each year, NIST PSCR hosts a Public Safety Broadband Stakeholders Meeting which brings together representatives of public safety, federal agencies, industry and academia. It is a unique event because of the cross-section of stakeholders it attracts, and the converging set of topics it covers, there is perhaps no better word to describe the role that PSCR plays than “nexus”. The word itself refers to “a connection or series of connections, or the central and most important place.” By connecting stakeholders, PSCR ensures that unique requirements and diverse perspectives are included in communications technology R&D. See PSCR 2022 infographic here!

Image of Division Chief Dereck Orr

Dereck Orr, director of NIST Public Safety Communications Research, speaks with FirstNet Chairman of the Board Stephen Benjamin as he tests a virtual reality program for firefighters at the new immersive test facility.
Credit: NIST

Located in the FirstNet Authority building, the Public Safety Immersive Test Center is approximately 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) of custom space equipped with a motion capture system, 42 high-speed optical tracking cameras, a variety of augmented and virtual reality headsets, and equipment and accessories that add a component tactile to the simulations. This kit helps first responders navigate various scenarios, such as simulated search and rescue activities or coordinated complex terrorist attacks. The FirstNet Authority and NIST plan to regularly update the space with improvements such as haptics and metrology, 5G, edge computing, WebXR capabilities (allowing for a mix of virtual and augmented reality), and other technological advances for public safety operations.

Image of firefighter holding a drone.

Firefighters and first responders use drones in their daily operations, requiring specialized UAS capabilities for their unique missions.
Credit: Courtesy of Kansas State Salina Communications & Marketing

In the First Responder Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Indoor Challenge, competitors are designing, building and flying a cost-effective, easy-to-fly drone solution to help search and rescue teams gain better situational awareness before entering a building. Competitors are addressing the difficulties of operating UAS indoors where GPS is unavailable, lighting is limited, or structural integrity is compromised. There’s still time to join in the middle of the competition! Proposals must be submitted before February 17, 2023.

/ Public statement. This source organization/author(s) material may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style, and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s). View in full here.

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