Tech to Protect Challenge Launches National Innovation Contest


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New Initiative Invites Public to Develop Cutting-Edge Solutions for Emergency Responders

BOULDER, Colo. — The Tech to Protect Challenge announced today the launch of its national innovation contest aimed at advancing public safety communications. The contest is set to take place in 10 U.S. cities in late 2019. The event introduces coding contests designed to foster technology solutions that will aid emergency responders in serving and protecting communities nationwide.

With a series of 10 in-person coding events and an online contest, the Tech to Protect Challenge encourages widespread participation from a diverse community of innovators: students, researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, technologists, programmers, software developers and more. These individuals and groups, regardless of skill level, are invited to collaborate and develop technology that will address the complex communications challenges Emergency Medical Services (EMS), firefighters and police face daily.

“The Tech to Protect Challenge is the first-of-its-kind for the public safety industry,” said Dereck Orr, Division Chief of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program. “This initiative will energize and link creative minds from all walks of life with the goal of creating groundbreaking solutions to improve the safety of their communities.”

NIST’s PSCR Division is committed to driving advancements in public safety communications with cutting-edge research and development through its Open Innovations Opportunities program. Supported by federal funding and strategic partnerships, PSCR’s team of scientists and researchers work to connect emergency responders with state-of-the-art technologies and broadband networks to improve their vital operations.

The Tech to Protect Challenge will invite participants to submit creative solutions—including mobile apps, data systems and software interfaces—in 10 contests spanning technical areas including:

The Tech to Protect Challenge is proudly supported by the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T. The First Responder Network Authority is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce whose mission is to ensure the deployment and operation of FirstNet, the nationwide public safety broadband network being built in a public-private partnership with AT&T.

“Emergency responders deserve the best tools and highest level of innovation to help them save lives and protect communities,” said Jeff Bratcher, Chief Technology and Operations Officer at the First Responder Network Authority. “With FirstNet, public safety now has a dedicated marketplace focused on their broadband communications needs, and this is creating new applications, technologies and software developed for their lifesaving mission. Tech to Protect Challenge will help drive the creation of these vital technologies.”

The Tech to Protect Challenge invites the public safety community to get involved by serving as a knowledge resource for participants or submitting their own solutions to the coding contests. Specific participation opportunities for emergency responders can be found at

In-person contest locations will be announced April 2, 2019, and participants will be invited to register and begin the submission process by reviewing challenge statements and building teams. An online contest will launch in June 2019, allowing participants unable to attend in-person events to virtually submit entries. All winning solutions in the Tech to Protect Challenge will be awarded from a pool of up to 182 cash prizes and will receive national recognition.

For more information, updates and ways to get involved, please visit or email [email protected].

About the Tech to Protect Challenge

The Tech to Protect Challenge is a national coding challenge designed to help emergency responders—including EMS, firefighters, and law enforcement—meet their mission to serve and protect our communities nationwide. The program is a federally-funded initiative led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and its Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division. The Tech to Protect Challenge is supported by SecondMuse, the global innovation accelerator behind NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, and the RedFlash Group, a national public safety consulting firm.

About PSCR

Since 2002, NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research Program (PSCR) has worked to drive innovation and advance public safety communication technologies through cutting-edge Research and Development (R&D). PSCR works directly with first responders and the solver community to address public safety’s urgent need to access the same broadband communications and state-of-the-art technologies that consumers on commercial networks now expect.

About NIST

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. Founded in 1901, NIST is one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories. Today, NIST measurements support technologies from the smallest nanoscale devices to the largest and most complex engineering systems.

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