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PSCR Newsletter - February 2018



PSCR booth at CES with technology and bomb suit displayed and attendees interacting with PSCR staff

PSCR at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show

PSCR showcased its capabilities related to wearable technology, deployable networks, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and in-building location-based services at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV (January 9-12). The booth attracted interest from industry, academia, and public safety wanting to speak to members of our research team and learn more about the program’s latest research capabilities. CSPAN also stopped by to interview Dereck Orr, the PSCR Division Chief. You can watch the interview via the link below! 

CSPAN Interview with Dereck Orr, PSCR Division Chief (begins at 23:40 in the following video): Watch the interview here!

PSCR hopes to leverage conferences like CES moving forward to more widely publicize exciting new research projects, grant opportunities, and prize challenges and begin collaborating with new stakeholders that may be unfamiliar with PSCR’s work and mission.


Flying drone over water with mountain landscape in the background

Update on the PSCR "Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Flight and Payload Challenge"

PSCR is conducting The Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight and Payload Challenge, currently underway. This design and engineering challenge is open to academia, solvers and developers across the country and will award cash prizes up to $320,000 (in addition to $112k of travel funds) to the top challenge participants who build a cost-effective, hardware prototype of a UAS (unmanned aerial systems) that increases flight time and payload for public safety operations. This challenge closed to submissions on 1/29/18 and will complete the week of 5/20/18.

One of the barriers for UAS used in a public safety realm is payload versus flight time. Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAS provide many different mission capabilities, but their flight time is limited. The payload capacity, energy source and flight time are linked through design trade-offs that can be optimized for efficiency and flexibility. This challenge is designed to keep the UAS and its payload airborne for the longest time possible to support first responders’ communication technology while they conduct their search and rescue. The advancement of UAS research will help search and rescue operations support payloads for wireless communications or other life-saving goods to save lives.

A summary of important dates is provided below:

  1. Concept Paper Submission (open 1/8/17 - close 1/29/18): Papers summarize the technical capabilities and approach used to complete this challenge. Papers will be evaluated against how the proposed capabilities and approach align with the strategic goals and desired technical outcomes for this challenge. Project feasibility and team capabilities are also considered in the evaluation criteria.
  2. Prototyping, Hardware Build, and Video Test & Evaluation (expected open 2/5/18 - close 5/14/18): Up to 10 contestants will be provided access to NIST Robotics Test facility for Live Test and Evaluation contest. This stage will review hardware components, technical specifications, safety measures, and minimum flight time and payload capabilities of prototypes.
  3. Live Test & Evaluation (expected open 5/20/18 - close 5/24/18): Winning prototypes will be invited to demonstrate their work at the PSCR Annual Stakeholders Meeting in June 2018.

PSCR greatly appreciates the ingenuity and hardware design expertise of those who submit concept papers to this competition. PSCR recognizes that enhanced UAS design, flight, and payload capabilities represents a tremendous opportunity to provide value to the nation’s first responders. PSCR will showcase research results at the NIST Robotics Lab and the 2018 PSCR Stakeholder conference, where contestants will demonstrate their winning UAS prototype and be able to network with 500+ attendees!

For additional details about the “The Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight and Payload Challenge” visit


Public Safety Representative carrying a child through a mapped out building

Update on the PSCR "Virtual Reality Heads-Up Display Navigation Challenge"

PSCR is excited to announce the Virtual Reality Heads-Up-Display Navigation Challenge, currently underway. This 4-step challenge invites solvers to leverage their software development expertise to create a concept for a heads-up display (HUD) with unimpeded visual aids and navigation to advance public safety operational capabilities. This opportunity offers cash prizes up to $125,000 for the top VR HUD design concepts. This challenge closed to submissions on 1/26/18 and will complete the week of 6/4/18.

Contestants will showcase their VR skills and create a solution that helps advance User Interface (UI) technology through research.  UI is “the means by which a user and a technology system interact; including how users input, access, and navigate data and communications through the technology.”  Examples of UIs are haptic feedback mechanisms (e.g., sound, vibration), vocal commands, and visual indicators (e.g., heads-up displays).  Historically, UI design has been broad and rarely targeted for Public Safety however, it’s critical that first responders complete their tasks efficiently and effectively with minimum impediment.

A summary of important dates is provided below:

  1. Concept Paper Contest (open 1/2/17 - close 1/26/18): Eligible contestants submit a concept paper outlining their knowledge, skills, capabilities, and approach for this challenge to a review panel of subject-matter experts identified by PSCR.
  2. Working Concept ad HUD Prototype (tentative open 2/5/18 - close 3/9/18): 30 invited contestants (identified during concept paper review) develop a software HUD prototype for their proposed concept for compliance and usability testing by PSCR.
  3. HUD Prototype Test & Evaluation Round 1 (tentative open 3/19/18 - close 5/11/18): PSCR provides a working VR headset, scenario details, and operational parameters to 16 contestants for advanced testing and evaluation of HUD prototypes.
  4. HUD Prototype Test & Evaluation Round 2 (tentative open 6/4/18 - close 6/9/18): Invited contestants will complete a series of live demonstrations at the June 2018 PSCR Stakeholder Meeting. The NIST PSCR Judge Panel will test and evaluate final HUD prototypes and select competition winners.

PSCR greatly appreciates the ingenuity and hardware design expertise of those who submit concept papers to this competition. We anticipate advancements to our research in two key areas: User Interface/User Experience and Location-Based Services. PSCR will post updates on the program website and on after each stage of the review process. PSCR will invite challenge winners to attend the upcoming 2018 PSCR Stakeholder Conference in San Diego, CA held June 5-8, 2018.

For additional details about the “Virtual Reality Heads-Up-Display Navigation Challenge” visit


Hand drawing a digital and abstract roadmap with various indicator points

Up to $500K In Awards- Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program Location-Based Services Grant

PSCR is excited to announce the release of the NIST Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program - Point Cloud City NOFO for research and development grants and cooperative agreements. PSCR is seeking applications from pioneering U.S. state and local governments to create a model 'Point Cloud City.' Successful applicants will receive funding to generate an extensive catalog of annotated 3D indoor point clouds that can be used by industry, academia, and government to advance research and development in the areas of indoor mapping, localization and navigation for public safety, as well as to demonstrate the potential value of ubiquitous indoor positioning and location-based information. Recipients will also participate in the NIST Global Cities Team Challenge initiative as the lead for an Action Cluster.

PSCR conducted a webinar on January 30, 2018 to provide general information and discuss important considerations for the Point Cloud City NOFO. The webinar discussed information and guidance on the following topics:

  • Application requirements
  • Questions regarding eligibility requirements
  • Evaluation and award criteria
  • Selection process
  • General characteristics of a competitive application

Applications are due March 14, 2018. The full NOFO is available on For any questions, contact PSCR [at] (PSCR[at]nist[dot]gov).


PSCR User Interface
Credit: Sergey Nivens

Call for User Interface Grant Reviewers

PSCR is currently conducting reviews of Pre-Applications submitted to the Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program - User Interface (PSIAP-UI) Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) released in October 2017. This new funding opportunity intends to accelerate research, development, production, and testing of user interface technologies and capabilities through the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

PSCR required that interested participants submit Pre-Applications for the PSIAP-UI NOFO by December 29, 2017. Following the PSCR Pre-Application Panel Review, successful pre-applicants will be invited to submit a Full Application for the goals specified in their Pre-Application documents. PSCR recently notified successful Pre-Applicants on their acceptance and invited them to develop and submit Full Applications.

Interested in Serving as an Evaluator?
Do you have R&D experience in UI, VR, or AR? PSCR is seeking professionals from industry, academia, and public safety to evaluate applications for the PSIAP-UI with a focus on leveraging AR/VR for improved UI. The application review process will begin in early April.

Program Background
The PSIAP-UI opportunity will provide grants or cooperative agreements for the development and implementation of technology that will enable PSCR to test and measure effective user interfaces within an AR/VR environment. In order to advance public safety communications and enhance the effectiveness of first responder operations, PSIAP-UI funding will provide the opportunity for successful applicants to create AR/VR scenarios, user interfaces, and prototypes unique to public safety use cases.

PSCR anticipates up to $5,000,000 in new awards for PSIAP-UI projects that will enhance traditional AR/VR systems, produce more modular capabilities, and user interfaces that are adaptable to various scenarios. Applicants must highlight how they will involve the public safety community and are encouraged to propose projects surrounding:

  • Research to support methods of testing and measurements of potential new User Interfaces within an AR/VR environment that will produce results transferable to real-world implementations. Potential areas of research include cognitive load, physical strain, content attributes and delivery, and measurement capabilities.
  • Development of innovative technology that may be used when interacting within an AR/VR experience.

For more information on PSIAP-UI including the full opportunity timeline and details for the upcoming webinar, visit The full NOFO is available on For questions, email PSCR [at] with the subject line: PSIAP-UI.


Update on the NIST Location and Tracking System Testing Consortium

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, is establishing the Localization and Tracking System (LTS) Testing Consortium and invites organizations to participate in this Consortium. Participants in this Consortium will have the opportunity to test their LTS leveraging a unique capability on the NIST Gaithersburg campus. The goals of the LTS Testing Consortium, testing procedures, and to assess current state of the art. The LTS Testing Consortium will not evaluate whether any individual system is commercially feasible. Participants in the Consortium will be required to sign a Cooperative Research and Development (CRADA).

Letters of interest for participation in the LTS Testing Consortium were accepted until December 15, 2017. NIST is currently in the process of reviewing letters of interest and preparing for a pre-event workshop to be held in February. LTS Testing is expected to occur in April or May 2018, and dates are subject to change.

NIST anticipates the test event will take place over a period of two weeks. Each LTS will be tested over the course of 3-5 days during one of the two weeks. Lessons learned from testing will be used to make modifications to testing procedures and corresponding future revisions to the ISO/IEC 18305 location tracking standard. NIST intends to use the same set of buildings on its Gaithersburg campus to test future LTS to indicate the industry's performance improvements to indoor localization and tracking systems.

The Federal Register Notice for this effort can be found here. For more information on the LTS Testing Consortium, please contact Nader Moayeri of NIST's Advanced Network Technologies Division at nader.moayeri [at] (nader[dot]moayeri[at]nist[dot]gov).



Tongal Logo

The Future of Public Safety Technology 100k Video Series -- Winning Videos Published

PSCR is excited to announce the winners from the recently completed "Future of Public Safety Technology 100k Video Series" challenge. The challenge concluded in December 2017 for a series of videos explaining PSCR "Open Innovation" and NIST's "Public Safety Communications Research Open Innovation Accelerator Program" to the public. PSCR sought submissions from film makers to develop video concepts, pitches, and actual videos that encourage a futuristic and inspirational approach to improving public safety communications technology and help first responders save citizen lives. The driving motivation for these videos is to "excite and inform!" using cinematography to effectively engage the audience and communication the research opportunities at PSCR.

The video series includes seven (7) program videos:

  • The PSCR Open Innovation Accelerator Program Overview
  • The PSCR Program Summary (a highlight video to recap key areas)
  • 5 key area videos focusing on PSCR's key technology areas: Location-Based Services, Public Safety Mission Critical Voice, Enhanced User Interface, Public Safety Data Analytics, Network and Device Security

The PSCR Innovation Accelerator is spearheading R&D next-generation technology over the next several years and these videos are designed to encourage any person - team, entrepreneur, inventor, or company - to contribute their ideas and help NIST solve public safety technology challenges.

Challenge Results:

During Phase 1 of the Challenge, contestants were asked to submit a video concept that will inspire Americans to help develop the public safety technology of tomorrow. The four (4) winning concept creators each received a $500 prize.

  • Nehemiah Mabry
  • Hitmakers Media
  • Adam Sherrett
  • Levinson Brothers

For Phase 2, contestants used one of the winning concepts to pitch their vision for the video series. Norman Invasion was awarded a total of $98,000 for their winning vision and production of the videos. With the help of Tongal, Norman Invasion went on to develop the video series, resulting in a powerful series that will inform and inspire Americans on the demands of public safety technology.

The winning videos can be found on the PSCR website here.

To find out more about the challenge and the winners, visit or Keep your eye out for new and upcoming challenges on our Prizes & Challenges page! For questions, email the PSCR Open Innovation & Crowdsourcing Team at psprizes [at] (psprizes[at]nist[dot]gov) or (303) 497-4632.


Upcoming Events


2018 PSCR Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Meeting

Save the Date for the Annual PSCR Stakeholder Meeting

2018 PSCR Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Meeting
June 5-8, 2018
San Diego Convention Center
111 W Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

We are pleased to announce that the 2018 Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Meeting will be held in San Diego, CA. The meeting will take place June 5-8, 2018, at the San Diego Convention Center.

For the first time ever, this annual meeting will feature conference tracks that have been developed to deliver content that is of most interest to attendees.
The meeting will host numerous breakout sessions including presentations on the progress of key research and development projects that are critical to advancing public safety communications, updates from 2017 grant recipients, new grantee posters, capability demonstrations from PSCR investigators, and much more. To add to the excitement, the final stages of a live challenge will culminate at the conference and winners will be announced and showcased on the final day.

A draft agenda and registration information will be made available in the coming months. For more information on the PSCR Stakeholder Meeting, please visit our Stakeholder Meeting page.

Created January 25, 2018, Updated December 23, 2022