Homeland Security Department, tech accelerators team up on first responder wearables

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate is collaborating with a newly-created Dallas tech accelerator to design wearable technology for first responders.

The law enforcement agency is teaming with the Center for Innovative Technology's (CIT) "Emerge!" pilot program, as well as tech accelerators Tech Wildcatters, of Texas, and TechNexus, of Illinois, on the mHealth research and development effort, according to a CIT announcement.

"CIT is honored to partner with DHS S&T to use new methods and ideas that deliver innovative solutions to help them meet their security mission," President and CEO Pete Jobse said in a report at ExecutiveBiz.

The focus, says Tech Wildcatters Co-Founder and CEO Gabriella Draney Zielke, is to help emergency responders do their jobs more effectively and boost safety. "It's an unprecedented collaboration between our private and public sector partners," she told Culture Map.

It is the first time Tech Wildcatters is working with a public entity. Zielke said the federal agency reached out as part of a new DHS effort to reinvent research and development strategy. Accelerators help start-up enterprises find product markets, and are typically given equity in the new business in exchange for access to needed capital, and investor networking, she adds.

Emerge will design and develop wearable devices and also focus on big data issues.

"We love the hardware side of things personally," Zielke told Culture Map. "It's not just devices themselves--it's really big data issues, and wearables is just one piece of that. Homeland is working to figure out and make use of it. Wearables is just the tip of the iceberg."

Smartphones and mHealth devices have also proven helpful for local agencies in the U.S. that respond to medical emergencies. 

Smartphones could prove to be the easiest and least challenging approach to ensuring that emergency medical information is within immediate reach while ensuring security of such data, according to Kristina Derrick, a pediatric endocrine fellow at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York.

In addition, agencies such as the Los Angeles County Fire Department are using mobile apps to help in emergencies. The department is using a mobile app to find and tap cardiopulmonary resuscitation-trained people who may be close by when CPR is needed in an emergency situation.

For more information:
- read the announcement

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