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IU announces upcoming launch of $5.6M First Responder Smart Tracking Challenge

Crisis Technologies Innovation Lab urges participants to form teams and sign up now for competition updates

Research and discovery Sep 28, 2021

Calling anyone and everyone who wants to help first responders: a new contest might reward your good idea.

The First Responder Smart Tracking (FRST) Challenge is calling for participants to form teams and compete to find the best technology solutions for locating first responders inside structures.

A major obstacle for first responders is the need to track each other inside a structure. While location-based services – such as those many people use on a road trip – are adept at recognizing which street you’re on, they can’t provide granular location details inside a structure. That difference can mean life or death to those responding to an emergency call. The FRST Challenge aims to bring teams together to create the tools that will solve this problem.

Led by the Crisis Technologies Innovation Lab in the Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University, and funded by an $8 million cooperative agreement from the Public Safety Communications Research Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the challenge will formally kick off this November. Competition administrators are encouraging interested companies, entrepreneurs, and students to visit now and sign up to receive more information as the contest unfolds. Each phase of the competition will select teams to advance and award funding to put toward further development of the winning concepts.

Our goal is to create an environment to accelerate innovations that revolutionize location tracking indoors.

Sonny Kirkley, FRST project director

“We are increasingly seeing new Internet of Things and tracking technologies emerging on the market and maturing in research labs around the world. Our goal is to create an environment to accelerate innovations that revolutionize location tracking indoors,” said Sonny Kirkley, FRST project director. “Over the next two years, we’ll provide education, training and mentoring programs, along with prize funds, to help teams move from initial concept to mature prototypes.”

Successful FRST Challenge teams will require not only technology-savvy individuals, but also the mentorship of first responders to ensure the concepts are viable and useful to those they are meant to protect. The competition managers are seeking partnerships with organizations, businesses and individuals who have expertise, products or technologies the competing teams may consider integrating into their prototypes.

The first phase of the challenge is for teams to submit white papers describing their proposed technology solution, as well as their team qualifications and their public safety partnership. All teams will advance from Phase 1 to Phase 2, as the FRST Challenge hopes to cast as wide a net as possible for interesting solutions.

Visit and sign up for competition updates.

About the Pervasive Technology Institute

The Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University is a collaborative organization designed to marshal IU’s computational experts and resources quickly in response to societal, research, and educational needs. In partnership with University Information Technology Services, the Pervasive Technology Institute also led the original Jetstream award. The institute was established in 1999 by a grant from the Lilly Endowment and has continued to lead productive uses and applications of research technologies for over 20 years.

About University Information Technology Services

University Information Technology Services is part of the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer for Indiana University. It provides services across all IU campuses to support the university’s mission.

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