NIST Preps Two First Responder Innovation Challenges

As a part of its CHARIot Challenge, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is launching Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR) challenges to improve public safety communications for first responders.

With the IoT contest, NIST hopes to emulate smart city data in disaster scenarios. The agency wrote on the challenge website that as most IoT devices are connected to communications systems, first responders will need to supplement traditional radio transmission with broadband tech.

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“Today, first responders do not have convenient access to the critical information that they need to make informed decisions during emergency disasters,” NIST explains. “Researchers can build solutions that provide first responders access to IoT devices’, smart buildings’ and smart cities’ data streams.”

Through IoT access, NIST believes first responders will be able to optimize resources and decrease public safety wait time. The contest will award up to $212,000 in total prizes throughout the four phases of the challenge.

The AR contest will also be completed in the span of four phases totaling up to $585,000 in prizes. With this challenge, NIST is asking contests to submit plans to build AR to “convey actionable information to first responders without distractions or cognitive overload.”

Closely tied to the IoT challenge, NIST wrote on the contest website that as first responders have access to broadband communication tech, they will also need the ability to leverage new technologies with enhanced user interfaces.

“These [AR] solutions can significantly improve a first responder’s situational awareness allowing them to more effectively plan and respond during incidents,” NIST wrote. “Today, however, current advancements in AR technology have been largely unavailable to first responders.”

Contestants can register and submit responses to both challenges through May 6.

Katie Malone
About Katie Malone
Katie Malone is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.