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DHS Gathers Responders to Test New Techs in Texas

Jeff Brody

The Department of Homeland Security held a large-scale experiment in Texas to see how emergency responders can utilize new government-developed and commercial technologies integrated into existing public safety systems. The Next Generation First Responder Program– Harris County Operational Experiment at the Port of Houston gathered Houston-based public safety agencies, industry partners, DHS components and the U.S. Coast Guard, DHS said Tuesday.

First responders and partners used new on-body sensors and situational awareness screens to respond to a simulated release of a volatile chemical on the Houston Ship Channel.

“In this experiment the key data points are how to get multi-jurisdictions responding to an event to share information and situational awareness through sensors and communication systems,” said Sridhar Kowdley, program manager and OpEx director at DHS Science and Technology Directorate. “We’re now looking at integrating and fusing these technologies and incident command on various situational awareness platforms or dashboards,” he added. 

DHS plans to release case studies, guides and an after action report on the lessons from the experiment in late summer. The agency will conduct the last NGFR experiment, Birmingham Shaken Fury OpEx, in August. 

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