On Monday Nov. 18, more than 70 first responders descended on Eagle Bank Arena in Virginia to test what Mutualink calls a first-of-its-kind collaboration system for real-time video sharing, advanced building sensors, and other state-of-the-art technologies, in an effort to help the nation better prepare for active shooter scenarios, and other man-made and natural disasters.
Led by the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) Smart City IoT Innovation (SCITI) Labs in Virginia, and powered by technology from Mutualink Inc., a leading provider of interoperability solutions for first responders in communities across the nation, a successful live operational field exercise demonstrated faster and more effective emergency response in a large-scale incident.
The exercise was part of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funded "Smart City Initiative." The initiative involves a multiphase competitive delivery process among private sector technology companies tasked with designing, developing, and demonstrating a combination of capabilities with the goal to help meet evolving homeland security needs, including improved emergency response and communication. Mutualink was selected from over 140 applicants and successfully delivered a Phase 1 proof of concept, leading to its selection as the primary technology enablement solution for the next generation of public-safety-focused Smart City Phase 2 program and major training exercise at George Mason University's (GMU) Eagle Bank Arena.
Utilizing its advanced multimedia interoperability platform, Mutualink's Internet of Public Safety Things (IoPST) network and technologies, deployed throughout the arena, were used in the active shooter exercise on GMU's Campus. These technologies are designed for robust, expansive, and persistent connectivity in support of enhanced public safety and response effectiveness in emergency situations. According to Mutualink, sensors and cameras connected to the IoPST network provided unprecedented situational awareness and were securely shared in real time with mutual aid partners, enabling seamless voice communications and real-time display of video and sensor visualization data within an interactive floorplan-map based interface. CIT's SCITI Labs led the group that also included other advanced technology providers, whose sensors and displays were interconnected with Mutualink's backbone network and system.
George Mason University executive leadership, research professors, and students, along with numerous federal, state, and local community leaders, also observed the exercise.
"Smart communities are an important next step building on top of our universal broadband access because they enable better local government services to everyone in the Commonwealth," said Virginia Secretary of Commerce & Trade Brian Ball. "The SCITI Labs research, using smart buildings to improve public safety, is a key example of how this can work. The program is a showcase for the power of collaboration among federal, state and local government, and our university and industry partners."
The technologies involved in the training at George Mason University also included sensors and displays, attached to Mutualink's IoPST network, that are designed to improve the operational and energy efficiency of the arena. The sharing of this real-time data in an emergency can help responders more rapidly determine the location of personnel as well as the type and severity of the emergency, monitor on-scene environmental health and safety conditions, assist in finding victims more quickly, and, ultimately, save lives. The solution harnesses the power of in-building smart systems and sensors and delivers vital information to first responders in an environment where agency partners can not only see critical information but simultaneously communicate and collaborate to maximize response coordination and enhance overall first responder safety.
"Smart building technologies that interface to our advanced communications and interoperability platform benefit from real-world exercise scenarios," said Dr. Mike Wengrovitz, Mutualink's VP of innovation. "We thank DHS, CIT SCITI Labs, the researchers and many others with whom we've worked closely at George Mason University and the Eagle Bank Arena for the exercise's tremendous success. And going forward, we're excited about the various Smart Campus and Smart Corridor initiatives being discussed as potential elements of the follow-on program, as well as the continued collaboration with GMU including the Center for Advancing Human-Machine Partnership (CAHMP)."
Bill Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology in the Department of Homeland Security, announced the new four-year contract awarded to CIT and SCITI Labs to continue this collaboration and work.
"This effort is a great example of collaboration between Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology and the commercial innovation community," Bryan said. "The SCITI Labs 'Commercial First Innovation' approach rapidly brings the power of new industry partners to some of the most challenging problems of the Department of Homeland Security enterprise."
George Mason University Interim President Anne Holton also expressed her enthusiasm for the innovative research and the public-private partnerships that have found an environment to thrive at Mason. "I am thrilled that Mason has been able to contribute to such an inspiring collaboration and cutting-edge research on the intersection of smart technology and emergency response," Holton said. "I am confident that together we can forge a future where such technology interacts with humans and our environment in similarly complementary, sustainable and progressive ways."
For more information about Mutualink, visit https://mutualink.net.