IU Crisis Technologies Innovation Lab (funded by NIST PSCR)


FRST Challenge

Join hundreds around the world and change the lives of first responders everywhere.
Submission Deadline

Challenge Overview


As first responders scour a building during search and rescue, the ability for incident commanders to know exactly where they are provides immense safety benefits. Having accurate location data in a structure is vital to their safety, especially in life-and-death situations where every second counts. 

Risk is a reality of emergency response, and reducing this risk allows for faster and safer emergency engagements. Technologies that could potentially provide better situational awareness to first responders have developed rapidly over the past decade, with many wireless devices and sensors emerging within the global context of the Internet of Things (IoT). However, first-responder technology significantly lacks situational awareness regarding three-dimensional positioning inside building structures; while GPS can determine someone’s coordinates outdoors, it often cannot accurately determine where someone is inside a structure or which floor of a building they’re on. 

Understanding a responder’s location in all three dimensions is invaluable to first responder coordination and safety. In this challenge, you’ll explore how 3D tracking technology can be used in high-stress, time-sensitive environments. Successful participants will produce a technology that can track first responders to <1 meter accuracy in three dimensions, with no pre-deployed infrastructure and in a variety of non-ideal environments. It is essential that the solutions developed and submitted in the final phase of the competition meet the diverse needs of first responders and are affordable. 


Problem Statement

Tracking has long been a problem for first responders. While GPS tracking can roughly establish where on earth a person is, it is often not accurate enough to ascertain a person’s location or elevation within a building. Knowing the exact location within a structure of first responders during a search and rescue operation is vital to their safety. This competition exists to identify 3D tracking technology that can give first responders one-meter accuracy in an indoor setting. Use cases include emergency rescue operations and survivor location within large buildings. Successful teams will be awarded funding and entrepreneurial support to bring their solution to market.


Challenge Criteria

The goal of the FRST Challenge is for participants to produce marketable prototypes that demonstrate indoor localization and tracking of first responders within 1-meter accuracy in a variety of buildings without any pre-deployed infrastructure. Marketable prototypes will be robust for first responder use cases, scalable across diverse organizations and communities, and affordable for first responder organizations. The formal rules for each phase will be published on before each phase of the competition.*

As the challenge moves from the whitepaper concept presented in Phase 1 to robust prototypes in Phase 5, the teams will be evaluated with the following criteria.



AccuracyObjective measure of a team’s ability to accurately detect and locate first responders.
Ease of DeploymentPracticality and efficiency of the infrastructure needed to deploy and use a team’s solution.
RobustnessAbility to operate effectively in multiple scenarios, adverse conditions, and environments. This score is also based on the solution’s durability, flexibility, and expected maintenance needs. 
User ExperienceSubject matter experts’ analysis and experience during live field testing. Proposed solutions should be easy and simple for personnel to use in a variety of situations in the field.
Cost FeasibilityMetrics associated with cost and how practical an implementation would be for first responder groups of varying size.
Business Development PlanA team’s proposed business development, commercialization, licensing, and related goals.
ExtensibilityAbility of the prototype to utilize various types of data and infrastructure. While the core system must operate without pre-deployed infrastructure, if specific tools, data, and services are provided, can the systems use it. This might include items such as electronic maps, cellular and WiFi networks, and GPS signals.

*Criteria are subject to change in weights and definitions as the challenge progresses. The exact judging criteria will be released with the challenge rules and become official when published on