NIST Virtual Public Safety Test Environment Challenge

Design a physical measurement environment that uses immersive virtual reality tools for testing new first responder technologies Read Overview...

Evolving technologies have the potential to revolutionize how first responders do their jobs. Will heads-up-displays guide firefighters through smoke-filled buildings while smart glasses link EMS with doctors in real time?  What if a vest that collects vital signs and provides haptic feedback could keep police officers safer?


These exciting new technologies can’t be implemented without testing and verification. That is the genesis of this challenge. How do you test if a technology is helpful inside of a burning building without actually having a fire?  Do smart glasses get in the way of responding to an emergency? Testing to collect this data must be performed in a way that is safe, controlled and repeatable.


The Virtual Public Safety Test Environment Challenge, sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Innovation Accelerator, is crowdsourcing ideas and designs for measurement environments that use immersive virtual reality tools in conjunction with physical spaces to simulate first responder scenarios for accurate and repeatable testing of new first responder interfaces and technologies.


What is a Public Safety Virtual Test Environment?

A first responder can't safely enter a smoke-filled room with a live fire for testing, how do you simulate a realistic experience while maintaining safety?  Is physical feedback, like a hot wall, needed?  Can the smoke and flames be a part of a scene displayed in a virtual reality headset? Using NIST’s scenarios and interfaces for testing, your great ideas are needed to construct the simulation. Imagine creating a physical space in which ideal components, technologies, and interfaces are used together to make the most optimal environment for providing first responders a scientifically repeatable, measurable space that takes public safety experiences into consideration.

The best answers to these problems could come from a range of specialties - which makes it all the more exciting. Wherever the winning design comes from, public safety will have taken a huge step into the future once it is made available.


What Can You Do Right Now?

  • Read the complete challenge guidelines to see the rules and requirements for entry into the challenge.
  • “Accept Challenge” by clicking the orange button above to compete in the challenge. 
  • "Follow" the challenge above to be notified of any status updates to the challenge.
  • Share this challenge with your friends and family or anyone who might be interested. You can use the Share button above to share this page.
  • Start a conversation in our Forum to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.
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NIST funding and the legal authority under which the government runs the competition requires that cash prize money goes to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or businesses that have a U.S. base or operational presence. 
Teams can have a leader who is eligible to win a prize and can be designated to recieve the payment.
Participation is open and entries will be considered, but not eligible for the prize money.

NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) works across all of NASA and other federal agencies such as NIST to infuse crowdsourcing methods as a set of available tools to create innovative, efficient, and optimal solutions to real world problems.  NIST is utilizing CoECI’s models, infrastructure, and NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) innovation platforms to support the execution of the NIST Public Safety Communications R&D (PSCR) Program goals.

It’s likely that a fully virtual test environment won’t be ideal. That means that testing will utilize Virtual Reality tools within a physical space.  When constructing your entry think about what real world, physical objects and spaces will you use in your test environment.

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Join Us” button at the top of the page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.