Pulling the future forward
Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act
In February 2012, Congress enacted the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. The legislation contained landmark provisions for the development and build out of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), a dedicated, interoperable network for emergency responders. The Public Safety Trust Fund (PSTF) was established to support the design and implementation of the Network. The Act charged the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with utilizing up to $300 million of PSTF allocations to establish a Research and Development (R&D) program to support the development and deployment of NPSBN. The priorities incorporated into the Act and PSTF marked an unparalleled push toward interoperability and next-generation technologies for the public safety community.
PSCR Innovation Accelerator
In January 2016, the NIST Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program established the Innovation Accelerator to spearhead R&D efforts. To pave the way for the Innovation Accelerator, PSCR worked with its diverse stakeholder base to identify R&D priorities that have crosscutting positive impact for public safety. Technology Roadmaps are being developed to outline the critical technology gaps that were identified. The Innovation Accelerator will leverage the Roadmaps to make better- informed decisions on R&D initiatives. In the near-term, PSCR stakeholders identified five technology focus areas that will drive R&D for the Innovation Accelerator.
Innovation Accelerator Prize Challenges
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The private sector has made significant technological strides by leveraging a prize challenge methodology to spur innovation. The federal government is increasingly employing this type of approach to reach beyond their normal repository of problem solvers and identify cost-effective solutions to the nation’s most complex problems.
In 2015, PSCR undertook a Market Research effort to identify the best method to access innovators in the private sector and academia. As a result, PSCR created a Prize Challenge Architect position to guide the Innovation Accelerator’s Prize Challenge Approach. The Innovation Accelerator will leverage this approach, grants, and cooperative agreements to stimulate critical R&D for public safety communications technology and provide access to cutting-edge technologies and applications that will enable responders to better carry out their mission to protect lives and property.
Over the next seven years, the Innovation Accelerator will continue to leverage public safety, government, academia, and industry to identify innovation opportunities and foster technology advancements for public safety communications. Prize challenges, grants, and cooperative agreements will differ in size and duration, depending on the problem statement.