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US wants future first responders to be more high-tech

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
May 27, 2015
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The folks that might one day save your ass still rely on '50s-era radio technology (with some exceptions), and the US Commerce Department wants that to change. Its National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) division has just created a roadmap for how first responders can exploit technology over the next 20 years. The prime target is indoor location tech, which would help emergency crews find bad guys and victims alike in complex structures. There's no standard for indoor GPS, however, so NIST would like to get some kind of industry consensus on it and incorporate 3D visualization, enhanced precision and other features.

While police are starting to pack body cameras, NIST would like to see open standards that allow such wearables to easily exchange data. Furthermore, it wants industry to develop ad hoc networks that can pull data from such devices, along with digital video broadcasts, voice over IP services and the internet of things. That way, emergency crews could quickly commandeer a disaster site and efficiently allocate resources as needed.

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The Commerce Department is looking for wearable tech and indoor location services to be implemented widely in 5-10 years and converge with the internet of things within 20 years. Of course, the gears of bureaucracy crank slowly -- it took the FAA a lot longer than it thought to implement the next-gen ADS-B air traffic control system, for instance. Hopefully, first responders will get access to the latest tech before it's already obsolete.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes]

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