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SXSW 2020

This is the graphic for NIST PSCR's SXSW 2020 Panel, entitled "This is NOT a Game: VR and AR for Public Safety. It shows a split screen of a firefighter and a technologist holding up AR hardware.
PSCR's SXSW session will take place on Monday, March 16 at 12:30PM CT at the Downtown Austin Hilton, Salon A.

This is NOT a Game: VR and AR for Public Safety

VR and AR have been around for decades, but recent technological advances render these tools invaluable to improving public safety operations. Researchers at NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division have developed virtual environments that measure the usability of first responder technologies in a safe, repeatable, and low-cost way, whether via a heads-up display (HUD), haptic feedback device, or audio cue. Companies can leverage this capability to facilitate rapid prototyping and development of new user interfaces for fire, emergency medical services (EMS), and law enforcement. During this session, panelists from PSCR, gaming, and public safety will discuss the future of public safety user interfaces and how these capabilities are the foundation for a 5G use case.


PSCR's SXSW session will take place on Monday, March 16 at 12:30PM CT at the Downtown Austin Hilton, Salon A. Add it to your conference schedule now.


  1. Hear how the talents and skills typically applied to gaming industries can make a difference for cities, governments, first responders, and citizens. 
  2. Hear perspectives from federal, private sector, and public safety representatives on the implications of 5G on first responder operations.
  3. Learn about how the unique technology and user requirements of first responders are creating new areas of opportunity for private industry partners.



Dereck Orr is the Division Chief of the Public Safety Communications Research Division of NIST

Dereck Orr, NIST PSCR

Dereck Orr is Division Chief for the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division at NIST, which serves as an objective technical advisor and laboratory to FirstNet, the Department of Homeland Security, and Public Safety. Its mission is to accelerate the adoption and implementation of the most critical public safety communication standards and technologies. Since 2002, Mr. Orr has led the trajectory of the PSCR’s research and impact by working closely with first responders, government(s), academia, and industry. In 2018, he testified as an expert witness for the Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Subcommittee of the Department of Homeland Security. In 2019, he was recognized by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) with the Leadership in Advocacy Award. He brings a Masters in Public Policy from the College of William and Mary and a Bachelor of Arts in American History from the University of Texas at Austin.


Alison Kahn is an electronics engineer at NIST PSCR.

Alison Kahn, NIST PSCR

Alison Kahn is an Electronics Engineer with NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR) in Boulder, CO. She is currently the project lead for First Responder Personal Area Network research, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology directorate. This unique project is working to identify and address the barriers to IoT data assimilation and utilization of IoT data during first responder field operations. In addition, she acts as PSCR’s lab device liaison, working with vendors to ensure that public safety features are addressed in impending device releases. This critical work allows PSCR to release and test cutting edge technology for the future of Public Safety.

Bringing 17 years of experience, Ms. Kahn is an expert in the telecommunications industry. Prior to joining PSCR she worked on end-to-end device interoperability programs for cellular network equipment manufacturers, Nokia and Motorola.


Captain Kirk McKinzie is with the Cosumnes Fire Department. He often speaks on the public safety use case for virtual reality.

Capt. Kirk McKinzie, Cosumnes Fire Dept.

Captain Kirk McKinzie is a SMART First Responder Technologist, a 31 year fire service veteran, and is working with international teams focused on Next Gen Solutions. He functions as a trusted subject matter expert, advisor, and speaker on SMART community risk reduction, digital innovation, and emergency response to promote safe and secure regions. His areas of expertise include remote sensing, IoT, haptic feedback, 3D+ Virtual / Mixed / Augmented Reality, and related lifesaving technological solutions. Capt. McKinzie’s fire department is exploring ways to use VR technology to train firefighters through immersive experiences to prepare them for responses in the field. Capt. McKinzie is a thought leader in the field and an advocate for technology improvements to first responder operations. His department is on the forefront of VR / AR innovation and testing for Public Safety.


Greg Rinaldi is Senior Director, Developer & Creator Relations for augmented reality company Magic Leap.

Greg Rinaldi, Magic Leap

As a creator, curator, and enabler of virtual worlds, Mr. Rinaldi leads Magic Leap’s Developer & Creator Relations team, focusing on both platform evangelism and strategic partnerships with the world’s most ambitious XR pioneers in industry and entertainment. As a 19-year veteran of the interactive entertainment industry, at companies like Electronic Arts, he has created dozens of AAA games, mobile experiences and most recently has moved into XR. Over the past 3 years, Mr. Rinaldi has worked to ensure Magic Leap provides a safe space for creators to stretch their muscles and lean into the impossible.




Created November 20, 2019, Updated February 6, 2020