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NIST Crowdsources Emergency Command Tech With $1M Prize

The agency is working with a popular freelancing website to host a competition to work in augmented and virtual reality, Internet of Things sensors and more into modern, virtual command centers for emergency response.

A firetruck and helicopter.
Egd Shutterstock/Shutterstock
Hoping to spur on innovation in emergency response technology, the National Institute for Standards and Technology is putting up $1 million in prize money for an open challenge run through a freelancing website.

The Command Dashboard Integrating Next-Gen Technology Challenge — CommanDING Tech Challenge, for short — is being hosted by, a popular website where freelancers can find work. The challenge, which will run from June 6 through March 2023, asks participants to design a dashboard to help emergency responders get a holistic overview of a given situation. They’re looking for entries involving mobile devices, Internet of Things sensors, virtual and augmented reality and more.

Such technology has seen advances in recent years, with technology capable of tracking officers or firefighters on scene, loading in the geography of the area, allowing incident commanders to form groups and assign tasks. The new NIST challenge seeks to build upon those concepts.

“The CommanDING Tech Challenge will encourage innovation for developing user-friendly, next-generation interfaces designed for and with public safety, while showcasing the latest capabilities of PSCR research areas like IoT, analytics, and location-based services,” said Dereck Orr, chief of NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research Division, in a statement. “We can’t wait to see the innovators’ concepts and prototypes for public safety incident command dashboards.”

The contest will unfold in four phases, building from descriptions up to live simulations in front of judges. There will be prize money for winners and runners-up in each of the four phases.

The competition is only open to people and businesses based in the U.S. For more information, or to enter, visit this page.