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Mobile Application Single Sign-On: Improving Authentication for Public Safety FirstResponders



Bill Fisher, Paul A. Grassi


On-demand access to public safety data is critical to ensuring that public safety and first responders (PSFRs) can protect life and property during an emergency. This public safety information, often needing to be accessed via mobile or portable devices, routinely includes sensitive information, such as personally identifiable information, law enforcement sensitive information, and protected health information. Because the communications are critical to public safety and may include sensitive information, robust and reliable authentication mechanisms that do not hinder delivery of emergency services are required. In collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research laboratory and industry stakeholders, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) at NIST built a laboratory environment to demonstrate standards-based technologies that can enable PSFRs to gain access to public safety information efficiently and securely by using mobile devices. The technologies demonstrated are currently available and include (1) single sign-on (SSO) capabilities that reduce the number of credentials that need to be managed by public safety personnel, and reduce the time and effort that individuals spend authenticating themselves; (2) identity federation that can improve the ability to authenticate personnel across public safety organization (PSO) boundaries; and (3) multifactor authentication (MFA) that enables authentication with a high level of assurance.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1800-13
Report Number


access control, authentication, authorization, identity, identity management, identity provider, relyingparty, single sign-on


Fisher, B. and Grassi, P. (2021), Mobile Application Single Sign-On: Improving Authentication for Public Safety FirstResponders, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed June 17, 2024)


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Created August 25, 2021, Updated October 14, 2021