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Past Prize Challenges

Since 2017, PSCR has funded Open Innovation prize challenge competitions across a number of research areas including Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and more. Read about each prize challenge below, and click the challenge's name to learn more about the project and its winners.

Challenge Name Award Amount Description
2022 Incident Command Dashboard Challenge  $1,000,000 The Command Dashboard Integrating Next Gen Technology (or CommanDING Tech) Challenge aimed to engage innovators and the businesses to develop or improve an incident command dashboard that advances public safety’s ability to respond to emergencies through better UI/UX and data connectivity.
2022 First Responder UAS Indoor Challenge $685,000 The First Responder Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Indoor Challenge from NIST PSCR sought innovative UAS solutions to support First Responders by scouting an indoor structure and providing information about its condition and situational awareness prior to entry. The goal of this challenge was for contestants to design, build, and fly a cost-effective UAS that is easy to control, highly durable, and provide first responders with a high-quality video signal needed to detect human life and assess hazards in the environment. 
2021 Mobile Fingerprinting Innovation Technology Challenge $349,500 The Mobile Fingerprinting Innovation Technology (mFIT) Challenge asked innovators to advance mobile fingerprinting capture technologies by building and demonstrating prototype applications to serve field law enforcement officers.
2021 First Responder UAS Triple Challenge $720,000

The First Responder Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Triple Challenge from NIST PSCR served to help save lives faster and support advancing first responder search and rescue (SAR) operations. With a total of up to $720K in awards, this competition was comprised of three challenges with three different focus areas — all aimed at advancing UAS technology to support critical, lifesaving missions.

2020 Differential Privacy Temporal Map Data Challenge $276,000 The 2020 Differential Privacy Temporal Map Data Challenge followed on the success of 2018 Differential Privacy Synthetic Data Challenge, extending the reach and utility of differential privacy algorithms. Participants competed in a sequence of marathon matches to apply differentially private algorithms to datasets that contained time and location data. The goal was to create a privacy-preserving dashboard map that shows changes across different map segments over time.
2020 CHARIoT Challenge: Advancing First Responder Communications $1,100,000 The CHARIoT Challenge invited innovators to build augmented reality (AR) interfaces or Internet of Things (IoT) data emulators by participating in a multi-phase contest. The Challenge ran two multi-phase contests, simultaneously: Build Augmented Reality Interfaces for First Responder and Emulate Smart City Data for Disaster Scenarios.
2020 First Responder UAS Endurance Challenge $588,000 The First Responder Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Endurance prize competition invited innovators to bring their ingenuity and drone-building expertise to create a drone prototype for first responders. The advancement of UAS research achieved through this challenge will help support the development and operation of UAS that are intended to host critical tools for public safety missions, such as wireless communications systems.
2020 Enhancing Computer Vision for Public Safety Challenge $240,000 The Enhancing Computer Vision for Public Safety Challenge was focused on advancing the capacity of no-reference (NR) metrics and computer vision algorithms to support public safety missions.
2020 Automated Streams Analysis for Public Safety (ASAPS) Prize Challenge $180,000 The Automated Streams Analysis for Public Safety (ASAPS) Prize Challenge was focused on the development of algorithms to detect and analyze a variety of emergency events from unstructured public safety data in real time.
2019 Tech to Protect Challenge $2,200,000 The Tech to Protect Challenge was 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).
2019 Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge $425,000 Public safety officials perform tasks in a variety of environments that severely limit their senses and ability to communicate. The purpose of this challenge was to assess the potential of using virtual reality environments as a development tool to prototype and iterate on designs for public safety technologies. The challenge also sought to investigate the relevancy of haptic interfaces to assist in first responder tasks.
2019 Expanding the SIM Card for Public Safety Challenge $60,000 This challenge aimed to raise awareness of the need for convenient, standards-based, two-factor authentication for emergency responders, while also demonstrating an innovative approach that could lead to future innovations. Through this challenge, PSCR asked contestants to investigate the possibility of using a SIM card as a storage container for user credentials that could help first responders securely authenticate to mobile applications and that access critical information.
2018 Differential Privacy Synthetic Data Challenge $150,000 Public safety agencies and researchers are entities that need to share data, but the data often contains sensitive personal information that can’t be directly shared with the public. This ground-breaking competition sought differential privacy experts, mathematicians and data scientists to help PSCR advance research and bring attention to this data privacy issue by designing algorithms to de-identify datasets.
2018 The Unlinkable Data Challenge $50,000 In this ideation challenge, contestants proposed a new or improved method to protect privacy and unlink data using differential privacy techniques. The results of this challenge influenced the design of the second data contest, the Differential Privacy Synthetic Data Challenge.
2018 Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight and Payload Challenge $250,000 This prize competition elicited the design and building of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) prototypes to help address the barrier for UAS' used in a public safety realm of payload versus flight time.
2018 First Responder Virtual Reality Heads-up Display Navigation Challenge $87,500 This virtual reality (VR) prize competition asked participants to create a concept for a heads-up display (HUD) with unimpeded visual aids using their ingenuity, software coding and VR expertise.
2017 The Future of Public Safety Technology 100k Video Series $100,000 This four phased challenge sought creative approaches to design a video series that could engage science and technology solvers through unique messaging and videos.  Watch the entire video series!
2017 Virtual Public Safety Test Environment Challenge $50,000 This crowdsourcing competition involved ideas and designs for measurement environments that use immersive virtual reality tools in conjunction with physical spaces to simulate first responder scenarios for accurate and repeatable testing of new first responder interfaces and technologies.


Click the buttons below to learn more about current and upcoming Open Innovation prize challenges, the Open Innovation program, and other grants and cooperative agreements.

Current Open Innovation Prize Challenges

View current and upcoming prize challenges.

About the Open Innovation program

Learn more about PSCR's Open Innovation program.

Grants & Cooperative Agreements

View current and upcoming grants and cooperative agreements.

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Created May 24, 2019, Updated July 19, 2023