DHS Support for First Responders

The goal of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate and the First Responders Group (FRG) is to determine the response community’s needs and requirements, provide technical assistance, share data and critical information, and develop innovative solutions to the challenges faced during day-to-day and large scale emergencies.Today, the interoperability landscape consists of 60,000 state and local public safety agencies, federal agencies, and other stakeholders but that means there is the need to deal with 60,000 different sets of procurement regulations, budgets, and equipment lifecycles. Responders often can’t communicate within their own agencies or other agencies in other cities, counties, and states.

To respond to day-today incidents and large scale emergencies, it is critical that first responders have the ability to access and seamlessly exchange data, audio, and video communications in partnership with first responders.

The DHS Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) is improving interoperability by developing technologies and knowledge products as well as working to accelerate the standards development process.

Examples include partnering with first responders and industry to develop radios that can communicate across frequencies, report on the requirements for public safety video use, and ensure that communications equipment is able to work across manufacturers.

Additionally OIC programs deal with:

  • Voice Over Internet Protocol which bridges disparate analog radio systems over an IP network regardless of the manufacturer
  • Virtual USA which enables information sharing across jurisdictional boundaries via existing and emerging technologies
  • Emergency Data Exchange Language Standards which are open standards to ensure interoperable information exchange
  • Commercial Mobile Alert Service RDT&E to support pre/post deployment development of a national service delivering geo targeted alerts via mobile devices


To help future First Responders, DHS within their Science and Technology Directorate has established the Technology Clearinghouse/R-Tech (TCR) also known as the TechSolutions Program.  The Program provides information, resources and technology solutions to address capability gaps that have been identified by the emergency response community. The goal is to field technologies that meet 80 percent of the operational requirement in a 12 to 25 month time frame at a cost of less than $1 million per project.

To be eligible to submit a capability gap, applicants must be an active or retired first responder that has identified a capability gap that impacts multiple departments of sectors of the first response community or have an idea that would aid fellow first responders in doing their job faster, safer, and more efficiently.

To submit ideas addressing capability gaps, email techsolutions@dhs.gov.

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