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NIST Offering Free Access to Standards for First Responders

From NIST Tech Beat: April 26, 2011

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Contact: Mark Esser
301-975-8735

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Office of Law Enforcement Standards (OLES), in collaboration with the NIST National Center for Standards and Certification Information, has launched an Internet pilot project to measure the U.S. emergency and first responder communities’ need for documentary standards. As part of the study, NIST will offer U.S. first responders free access to documentary standards published by ASTM International, IEEE and the National Fire Protection Association during summer 2011.

Documentary standards can specify product characteristics, establish accepted test methods and procedures, characterize materials, define processes and systems, or specify knowledge, training and competencies for specific tasks. First responders use basic, testing and product standards primarily to determine the fitness/interoperability of their equipment for the work required. Typical subjects include equipment such as body armor, communications systems and biometric ID systems.

This pilot will contribute to a better understanding of whom in the federal, state and local first responder communities needs access to standards, what types of standards they use the most, and how OLES can better serve this community with future research and development. OLES chose the three standards-developing organizations because they publish a large number of responder-relevant standards, such as the Code of Federal Regulations, Department of Defense Military Specifications, etc.

The OLES project features approximately 300 standards, and OLES will analyze information on the agencies that use the documents. This pilot project is restricted to individuals with a “.gov” or “.mil” e-mail address in order to profile which agencies have the greatest demand. OLES will share the data gathered through the pilot with the agencies as well as with the standards-developing organizations.

Since 1971, the law enforcement, fire, emergency medical service and security communities have relied on OLES for guidance on procurement, deployment, applications, operations and training decisions. OLES assists U.S. federal, state and local agencies ensure that the safety and emergency equipment they need and rely on is safe, dependable and effective, and based on sound scientific technologies.

OLES develops equipment performance standards, measurement tools, operating procedures and usage guidelines that help public agencies’ select criteria for their equipment procurement, deployment, operations and training applications.