The First Responder Resource Group (FRRG) is an all-volunteer working group that includes 150 members of state, local, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency medical services, emergency management and other disciplines. Its goal and mission is to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) focus on the top-priority needs of first responders and maximize their safety, effectiveness, and preparedness in the field. Once a year, the FRRG meets with DHS S&T to discuss their capability gaps and requirements; determine priorities for the coming year; and discuss progress on current projects, initiatives, and technologies that S&T has been developing on its behalf. This year’s 2019 annual conference recently took place in San Diego.
“At the FRRG annual meeting, we had an opportunity to hear new ideas from around the country and get these ideas to the appropriate resources that can help us solve capability gaps in our industry,” said Assistant Chief Lori Brill, Golden Gate Fire Protection District. “The meeting served as a valuable opportunity for us to network and hear about how other agencies do things and deal with similar obstacles.”
FRRG members discussed S&T’s Next Generation First Responder Apex Program, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), and Silicon Valley Innovation Program’s ongoing initiatives, including the Smart City Interoperability Reference Architecture, a project that assesses the state of emerging standards for Smart Cities in the area of public safety and the development of open architecture for interoperable “Internet of Things” (IoT) sensors; Identity, Credential, and Access Management; the Wearable Alert and Monitoring System, a distributed, intelligent IoT communication system that will bring seamless situational awareness to first responders; and Mission Critical Push to Talk SBIR Phase I.
Another highlight of the meeting was discussions surrounding the transitions and expansions of S&T’s various technologies. Due to positive feedback from the FRRG, S&T transitioned technologies such as the Automated Driver and Responder Alerting System, Burn Saver, and Respiratory Projection for Firefighters during Overhaul in 2018, and also put out a wide range of new solicitations to the public. Technologies of interest listed in these solicitations included real-time indoor visualization systems for low visibility fire environments, three dimensional x-ray technology, and GPS trackers and biometric monitoring for detainees, just to name a few. FRRG members also chose topics for solicitations that S&T will release to the public in 2020, including real-time translation for responders and dispatch, response vehicle air quality, and the development of a next-generation firefighter helmet.
S&T also had a chance to spotlight some of its active technology projects, including POINTER 3D Location and Tracking, a tracking system that gives the position of firefighters operating in high multipath GPS-denied environments; the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment training platform, a free virtual training platform that first responders and education institutions can use to plan for a coordinated response to critical incidents; and Response and Defeat Operations Support, a program that supports public safety bomb technicians.
Finally, S&T and the FRRG discussed the commercialization of S&T technologies that have proven to be successful in the field. A few examples include ViSi Mobile® Wireless Patient Vital Signs Monitoring, a medical device that provides continuous, non-invasive blood pressure monitoring; the Semi Autonomous Pipe Bomb End Cap Remover (SAPBER), a system that removes end caps from pipe bombs and collects video of and physical evidence from the pipe bomb while keeping operators at a safe distance; and the First Responder Support Tools (FIRST) App, a bomb response tool that provides map-based information directly to responders on their laptop computers and smartphones.
Overall, both S&T and the FRRG have had a successful year. Thanks to their collaboration and S&T’s engagement with various industry partners, S&T has:
- 32 projects being managed for various initiatives
- 8 active projects
- 8 projects transitioning to the commercial market place
- 20 projects that have successfully transitioned to the commercial market place
S&T’s Response and Defeat Operations are also working hard to continue development and implementation of various research and development initiatives, assessments, partnerships and publications.
“I was happy to see how successfully we have been able to work with the FRRG to identify some of the capability gaps that our country’s first responders face daily,” said S&T Program Manager Milt Nenneman. “Thanks to strong relationships with our industry partners and their ongoing hard work and innovation, we are able to create technological solutions and apply them to the emergency response environment. There’s no limit to what we can do!”
For more information on how to become a member of the FRRG, contact [email protected].