Government & Politics  July 25, 2022

NIST, U.S. Department of Commerce launch Public Safety Immersive Test Center in Boulder

BOULDER — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s First Responder Network Authority and National Institute of Standards and Technology are partnering on the launch of the Public Safety Immersive Test Center in Boulder.

The joint effort will “enable research and development, education, and training, by offering the facility at no cost to public safety agencies and organizations that support public safety response efforts, including private sector and academic institutions,” NIST said in a news release. “The facility is designed to help answer key research questions around the future of user interfaces and location services for public safety training and operations.”

The center is about 1,076 square feet of customized space equipped with a motion capture system, 42 high-speed optical tracking cameras, a variety of augmented and virtual reality headsets, and gear and fixtures that add a tactile component to simulations, the release said. 

“When seconds count, situational awareness can be a matter of life or death for first responders,” FirstNet chief network and technology officer Jeff Bratcher said in the release. “We are proud to partner with NIST on this state-of-the-art facility and provide first responders with an immersive virtual experience to help them prepare for those critical moments. The FirstNet Authority is dedicated to advancing technologies and innovative ways to ensure first responders have the tools they need for their life-saving mission.”

First responders and technology developers will be able to use the center to test and train on new equipment.

“The center is giving us a glimpse into the future,” Sterling Folden, deputy chief of Mountain View Fire and Rescue in Longmont, said in the release. “It’s very promising to see the technology that is being invested in to augment whatever we do and the tools we’ll have in the future to make our citizens safer. All these forms of technology from the facility have the opportunity to be implemented in the field. Some lend themselves better to training like VR, but augmented reality can be implemented in the field sooner rather than later and make a big difference for people.”

Sign up for BizWest Daily Alerts