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NIST-FirstNet Authority Partnership Creates Testing Hub for Public Safety Tech Developers, Responders

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The First Responder Network Authority has collaborated with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish a facility where technology developers can test public safety equipment with emergency response personnel.

The Boulder, Colorado-based Public Safety Immersive Test Center features virtual and augmented reality headsets, a motion capture system and optical tracking cameras for first responders to perform missions such as search and rescue in a simulated environment, the FirstNet Authority said Monday.

Both agencies plan to offer the public safety community, including private and academic entities, free access to the 1,076-square-foot center as part of efforts to drive research, development, training and education in the area.

“In this new facility, users can walk or crawl throughout the space, physically touch walls and furniture, and pick up props like fire nozzles or dummies,” said Scott Ledgerwood, leader of the user experience/under interface group at NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research Division.

Jeff Bratcher, chief network and technology officer of the FirstNet Authority, said the facility was created to help first responders prepare for live-saving missions through an immersive virtual experience.

The partnership looks to equip the center with other technology such as 5G, haptics and edge computing platforms.