May, 29

NIST Announces Winners of the CommanDING Tech Challenge

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Dereck Orr, head of Public Safety Communications Research at NIST, trying out a virtual incident response dashboard at the CommanDING Tech Challenge event.



GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced the winners of the final phase of the Command Dashboard Integrating Next-Gen Technology (CommanDING Tech) Challenge, a four-phase competition for designing next-generation incident command dashboards for first responders.  

The winners were announced following the final phase of the competition, which was held at the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis from March 7 through 9, 2023. At that event, contestants presented their designs and demonstrated their dashboard capabilities during simulated live scenarios. 

Many incident command dashboards are limited by the quality of their user interfaces and an inability to access certain types of data. The CommanDING Tech Challenge aimed to incentivize the creation of new dashboards with improved user interface/user experience (UI/UX) designs that incorporate video, sensor and map data, as well as real-time indoor tracking and video analytics, using mobile and web-based solutions. 

“The CommanDING Tech challenge put prototypes of next generation incident command dashboards into the hands of first responders,” said Scott Ledgerwood, the UI/UX portfolio lead for NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research Division. “The winning dashboards allowed incident commanders to take action and maintain situational awareness when responding to complex incidents. It’s exciting to see how this research can impact the public safety mission, and we look forward to watching these teams move forward in the marketplace.” 

Winning submissions were judged on UI/UX design, innovation, use of technology, commercial viability, and effectiveness during simulated live scenarios. In addition to cash prizes, all finalists have been invited to demonstrate their solutions at 5×5: The Public Safety Innovation Summit, a June 2023 event to be hosted by NIST and FirstNet Authority, an independent agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. 

With the completion of its fourth and final phase, the CommanDING Tech Challenge has awarded a total of $1 million in cash prizes. The winners of the Phase 4 competition are: 

First place: Headwall VR of Beltsville, Maryland
Awarded $130,125 for a solution that allows a digital twin of a command center to be deployed quickly and compactly in a virtual or mixed reality headset. The user can then have access to the entire complement of situational awareness tools that lie within the master command center. 

Second place: BadVR, Inc. of Los Angeles, California 
Awarded $96,000 for a solution that provides commanders with an immersive sandbox environment in which they can place and rearrange dynamic data visualization components with live collaboration. By emphasizing usability and a reduced technical burden, the system can both lower cognitive load and increase situational awareness during high-stress scenarios. 

Third place: TurnRock Labs of Seattle, Washington 
Awarded $52,750 for developing a comprehensive decision-support operations and forecasting environment called SpaceJam that can support the mission of the nation’s warfighters, first responders and law enforcement officers. 

Fourth place: Engineering Dynamics of Silver Spring, Maryland 
Awarded $34,625 for an incident command dashboard consisting of a tactical map and an arbitrary number of video feeds. The map shows personnel location and status, available cameras and environmental factors (such as hazards and temperature) in an accessible display without excessive distractions.  

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