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Past Prize Challenges

Since 2017, PSCR has funded prize challenge competitions across a number of research areas. Read more about each challenge below, and use the links to learn about the projects, winners, and amounts funded.


NIST Drone Challenge
NIST Drone Challenge

past challenges

2020 CHARIoT Challenge: Advancing First Responder Communications

The CHARIoT Challenge, hosted by PSCR and its challenge partners, 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. Learn more.

2020 First Responder UAS Endurance Challenge

The First Responder Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Endurance prize competition from PSCR 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. This was a 4-stage challenge, with prize awards up to $552,000 for the top designs. Learn more

2020 Enhancing Computer Vision for Public Safety Challenge

The Enhancing Computer Vision for Public Safety Challenge is an open innovation competition from PSCR focused on advancing the capacity of no-reference (NR) metrics and computer vision algorithms to support public safety missions. PSCR awarded $240K by the end of this 2-phase challenge. Learn more

2020 Automated Streams Analysis for Public Safety Prize Challenge

The Automated Streams Analysis for Public Safety (ASAPS) Prize Challenge is an open innovation program focused on the development of algorithms to detect and analyze a variety of emergency events from unstructured public safety data in real time. A total of $180K was awarded to six contestants for their compelling ideas. Learn more

2019 Tech to Protect Challenge

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). More than $2M was awarded in cash prizes to participants. Learn more.

2019 Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge

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. More than $100K was awarded to the final winners. Learn more.

2019 Expanding the SIM Card for Public Safety Challenge

This challenge was aimed at raising 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. Ultimately, $60K was awarded to competing teams. Learn more.

2018 Differential Privacy Synthetic Data Challenge

Data sharing is important but some datasets need to be de-identified. Public safety agencies and researchers are examples of 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 while competing for $150,000 in prizes! Learn more.

2018 The Unlinkable Data Challenge

This was an Ideation challenge where 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, namely the Differential Privacy Synthetic Data Challenge. The Unlinkable Data Challenge evaluated concept papers describing a mechanism to enable the protection of personally identifiable information while maintaining a dataset's utility for analysis. Learn more. 

2018 Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight and Payload Challenge

A prize competition that elicited the design and build 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.  Learn more.

2018 First Responder Virtual Reality Heads-up Display Navigation Challenge

An exciting virtual reality (VR) prize competition that asked participants to create a concept for a heads-up display (HUD) with unimpeded visual aids using their ingenuity, software coding and VR expertise. Learn more

2017 The Future of Public Safety Technology 100k Video Series

Public safety communications technology of tomorrow video series Crowdsourcing Competition. Learn more about this challenge. Watch the entire video series!

2017 Virtual Public Safety Test Environment Challenge

A Crowdsourcing Competition for 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. Learn more.



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Created May 24, 2019, Updated October 18, 2021