The Tech to Protect Challenge, a federally-funded initiative led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and its Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division has launched a national innovation coding contest aimed at advancing public safety communications. It will take place in 10 US cities in late 2019 and will also involve an online contest.

It invites participants to submit creative solutions—including mobile apps, data systems and software interfaces—in 10 contests spanning technical areas including:

  • User interface/user experience
  • Location-based services
  • Security
  • Public safety mission critical voice
  • Public safety analytics
  • Resilient communications projects

The cities where the physical events will take place are Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, Chicago, Miami, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., and New York. An online contest will launch in June 2019, allowing participants unable to attend these to virtually submit entries. All winning solutions in the Tech to Protect Challenge will be awarded from a pool of up to 182 cash prizes and will receive national recognition.

The Tech to Protect Challenge is inviting the public safety community to get involved by serving as a knowledge resource for participants or submitting their own solutions to the coding contests. The Challenge is officially sponsored by the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T and the Challenge’s innovation contest is being implemented by SecondMuse, the global innovation accelerator behind NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, and the RedFlash Group, a national public safety consulting firm.

“The Tech to Protect Challenge is the first-of-its-kind for the public safety industry,” said Dereck Orr, division chief of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program. “This initiative will energise and link creative minds from all walks of life with the goal of creating ground-breaking solutions to improve the safety of their communities.”

“Emergency responders deserve the best tools and highest level of innovation to help them save lives and protect communities,” said Jeff Bratcher, chief technology and operations officer at the First Responder Network Authority. “With FirstNet, public safety now has a dedicated marketplace focused on their broadband communications needs, and this is creating new applications, technologies and software developed for their lifesaving mission. Tech to Protect Challenge will help drive the creation of these vital technologies.”

Author: Sam Fenwick