FirstNet Authority Launches Immersive Virtual Lab for Public Safety Research and Training

The center is designed to help first responders and technology designers simulate different scenarios, such as simulations of search and rescue activities or coordinated, complex terrorist attacks.

Jeffrey Bratcher, FirstNet Authority’s chief network and technology officer, says the lab will be the technical headquarters and training lab “for the augmented reality and virtual reality aspects of public safety.”

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“Tech developers and public safety officers can use the center themselves to try out new augmented reality equipment in real-life scenarios that they can physically walk through, picking up real-life objects like fire hoses and sprinklers, rather than being limited to staying there.” in place and using a controller,” says Bratcher.

Bratcher notes that current VR technology requires the use of a hand controller, unlike the AR technologies tested at the center.

Lab wants to test realistic scenarios for first responders

The lab’s goals go beyond improving and improving communications for public safety, Bratcher says.

“We’re developing technologies for situational awareness, more realistic training environments, and some of the other unique opportunities that we see through the larger, broader bandwidths that make this possible,” he says. “We will support those technologies in the future, and NIST has led that research and development in this space, and so we’ve partnered with them to build this immersive testing center together.”

The FirstNet Authority and NIST plan to: update the space regularly with improvements such as haptics and metrology, 5G, edge computing, WebXR capabilities (which combine VR and AR) and others technological advances for public security operations

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“The center gives us a glimpse into the future,” said Sterling Folden, deputy chief of Mountain View Fire and Rescue in Longmont, Colorado.

“It’s promising to see the technology invested in to augment everything we do and the tools we’ll have in the future to make our citizens safer. All of these forms of technology from the facility have the potential to be implemented in the field. Some lend themselves better to training, such as VR, but augmented reality can be implemented in the field sooner rather than later and make a big difference to people,” he says.

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