First Responders’ Mobile Tech to Get Cybersecurity Upgrade

Small business Metronome Software has been awarded $750,000 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate to significantly enhance cybersecurity for the mobile device-based sensor networks used by first responders, according to The Hill.

“Strengthening the security of first responder networks is needed to protect data flow from attack by cybercriminals,” said William Bryan, acting under secretary for science and technology at DHS, in a statement. “The security enhancements developed through this project will be designed to ensure the system can be accessed and used only by approved devices and operators.”

This Small Business Innovation Research Other Agencies Technology Solutions award is a joint project between the DHS Science and Technology Directorate’s Mobile Security research and development program and the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Apex program, according to the statement. The NGFR Apex program is a five-year DHS effort to deliver advanced communications and other supporting technology to first responders, The Hill explained.

Multi-threat personal protective equipment, plug-and-play sensors, and advanced communications devices are all being integrated by the NGFR Apex program to provide multi-layer threat protection and immediate situation awareness to first responders, allowing them to both access and analyze data on the ground. The goal of this effort is to “help tomorrow’s first responders be more protected, connected and fully aware,” according to the statement.

“First responders require secure access to critical, time-sensitive information. This information architecture, including sensors and mobile devices that first responders rely upon, can be enhanced through the integration of a security layer with the NGFR framework,” said John Merrill, NGFR Apex program manager, in the statement. The new security and management features are “anticipated to increase the protection and safety of the nation’s first responders when responding to emergencies,” according to Merrill.

Sarah Sheber is assistant editor/web editor at Journal of AHIMA.

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