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U.S. and Canada Kick off Joint First Responder Initiative with Artificial Intelligence Experiment

6-July-2018 -WASHINGTON—A new initiative kicks off today to evaluate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and situational awareness technologies during critical incidents. The effort is a joint partnership between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and Canada’s Department of National Defence science and technology organization, Defence Research and Development Canada Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS) to ensure both American and Canadian next generation first responders are better connected, protected and fully aware during critical incidents.

Over the next two years, the two countries will collaborate on new research and development projects, hold joint workshops and field experiments and share best practices and lessons learned to ensure the safety and effectiveness of first responders and the public.  

“Canadian and American responders have very similar requirements,” said John Merrill, DHS S&T’s Director of Next Generation First Responder Apex Program.  ”By jointly determining research and development priorities between the two countries, we can reach our goal faster and more efficiently, eliminating duplication of effort and optimizing funding.”

As part of this initiative, DHS S&T and DRDC CSS have agreed to hold a field experiment using S&T’s Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction and sYnthesis (AUDREY) AI capability. Developed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as a state-of-the-art human-like reasoning system, AUDREY will help provide tailored situational awareness information to support and improve paramedic decision-making and quality of patient care during a paramedic response scenario.

The experiment will take place in early 2019 in Hastings County, the second largest county in Ontario, Canada.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this ground-breaking research,” said Doug Socha, Hastings County Paramedic Chief. “Helping develop a tool that can be used to improve patient care outcomes is part of our ongoing mandate as a service.”

“Communities rely on paramedics to give them essential, life-saving care when they need it most. Paramedics make hundreds of critical decisions about how to assess, treat and transport patients. With AUDREY, we want to see how artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics can enhance that decision-making and help improve patient outcomes, and the healthcare system.” said Gerry Doucette, Portfolio Manager for Policing and Law Enforcement at DRDC CSS.

Next Generation First Responder II video

When a bomb explodes in a public building, local enforcement, fire service and emergency medical personnel respond using communications technologies envisioned by S&T’s Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) program. The video demonstrates how these technologies will enable responders to better coordinate their efforts to save lives during critical incidents. (more below video)

NGFR Integration Demonstrations

Next Generation First Responder has held a series of integration demos to test and showcase the interoperability of technologies currently in development. These demonstrations have evolved into exercises with partner public safety agencies across the nation and have produced materials to aid first responders, command centers, etc. in implementing new technologies that address capability gaps.

The Grant County - DHS S&T NGFR Apex Program Technology Experiment (TechEx) was the first partnership with a rural public agency that tested the integration of physiological and location sensors, situational awareness systems, drones, datacasting and deployable communications into a cohesive public safety solution.

The Grant County DHS S&T TechEx produced the NGFR Case Study series, which explains NGFR’s efforts to provide public safety agencies guidance on deployable broadband communications, location tracking, capturing, sharing and datacasting video, physiological monitoring and situational awareness based on conclusions from the TechEx. The case study series is meant to aid public safety agencies across the nation in assessing and implementing first responder technologies to assist responders in completing their mission.

NGFR’s integration demonstrations continue with the 2018 NGFR -- Harris County Operational Experimentation (OpEx) in December 2018.

And per above, a field experiment will take place in early 2019 in Hastings County, Ontario, Canada.

Learn more about NGFR in below infographic and at

Source: DHS S&T

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