The Tech to Protect Challenge is an open innovation opportunity led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division. Taking place throughout 2019 in ten different cities across the country, the challenge features ten contests which allow for on-line and in-person participation. Each contest is designed to develop new, creative technologies to address issues faced by fire, law enforcement and EMS emergency responders.
The Tech to Protect Challenge is designed to engage entrepreneurs, technologists, students, programmers, designers and public safety experts to create solutions across critical technical areas of public safety communications, including secure communications, location-based services, public safety data analytics, mission-critical voice and user interface/user experience (UI/UX). The participant proposed solutions will support emergency responders’ use of advanced communications technologies in accomplishing their day to day activities, critical responsibilities in emergencies, and beyond.
Over the course of 2019-2020, the challenge will include ten unique contests, host ten codeathons in cities across the United States, and award up to $2.2 million in cash prizes to participants. The challenge invites participants of all skill levels; provides opportunities to engage with subject matter experts; and offers access to resources needed to develop viable technology prototypes and solutions. The ten in-person codeathon events will take place in two bursts, September 27-29 and November 1-3, 2019, with the Online Contest launching a rolling application period between June 1 and November 15, 2019. Ultimately, a final national award event will be hosted in April 2020 to showcase and make the final cash awards to the top performing participants.
Participants with diverse skill sets and varying levels of experience are welcome and encouraged to participate:
- Students, professionals and entrepreneurs with technical and non-technical backgrounds including engineers, computer scientists, software developers, designers, communications experts, illustrators, project managers and others.
- Emergency responders and others with an interest in public safety communications with technical and operational experience. This includes individuals with field experience, private and public entities that provide communications products or services, and individuals with an interest in software and hardware elements of communications technologies.
In addition to NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research Division, several co-sponsors and partnering organizations will be involved in the implementation of the challenge. The co-sponsors generally include public, private, and civic organizations such as technology solution providers, public safety-focused technology companies, public safety agencies and associations, universities, coding academies, and others — all in support of the participants and the challenge’s objectives.
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