Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Agencies developing firefighter tracking technology

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) to develop firefighter tracking technology.

The effort would allow first responders to locate team members in burning buildings more accurately. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, domestically, approximately 80 to 100 firefighters are lost in the line of duty each year.

Last month, S&T and NASA JPL successfully tested the Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Training for Emergency Responders (POINTER) technology at the Veteran’s Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

Multiple POINTER devices were evaluated with members of S&T’s First Responder Resource Group and industry partner Balboa Geolocation Inc. to ensure they met first responder requirements.

“There are currently no commercialized tracking devices like POINTER on the market,” S&T First Responder Portfolio Director Greg Price said. “This device goes far beyond GPS capabilities to give first responder teams more accurate guidance in locating their colleagues in emergency scenarios.”

The tests were conducted as a first step before operational field testing, utilizing several fire response agencies nationwide throughout 2021 while focusing on POINTER’s tracking, visualization, and data collection capabilities component.

“Responders have told us that tracking technology is their number one priority,” Price said. “This never-seen-before POINTER technology will soon change the way firefighters experience and overcome the challenges they face.”