Department of Homeland Security Explores Wearables

Chuck Brooks

Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that they are launching a program called "EMERGE" to explore opportunities to create and eventually procure wearable technologies that would benefit first responders and law enforcement doing the homeland security mission.

The program was established in partnership with the U.S. Air Force Academy, DHS’s Center for Innovation, and the Center for Innovation Technology (CIT). CIT has also picked two business accelerators to participate in a training program competition in coordination with DHS to demonstrate their applications for wearables.

Wearables are currently being integrated into military applications and it is logical that law enforcement and first responder applications also be part of that equation too.homeland security explores wearables

To its credit, DHS is taking the initiative to pursue wearable technologies with programs like "EMERGE" and also with a robust research and development effort from DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S & T). Dr. Reggie Brothers, Under Secretary of DHS S& T sees wearables technologies such as sensors, communications, and visualization technologies where scientific innovation can provide direct benefits to first responders. His Directorate held an event in February where first responders and industry representatives participated in a conversation about the potential if wearable and communication technologies for real world challenges. Valuable discussions such as this kind event will only succeed with a strong public/private partnership.

Dr. Robert Griffin, Deputy Under Secretary for DHS S & T in a March 10 press release stated: "First responders can benefit from these new emerging technologies, not only to ensure their personal safety, but to better save the lives of those they serve."

Wearables will certainly have important application for DHS stakeholders. The future first responder will likely have headset systems with cameras for visual awareness with embedded, computers that will analyze visual data. They will have sensor technologies for sharing information in real-time with hospitals that will be invaluable for rescues in disasters. Such emerging technologies will positively impact on the ability of those first at the scene to better remedy challenging situations.