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Public Safety Communications Innovation Accelerator

Agency Info

Welcome to PSCR’s prize page. We are the public safety communications research division of NIST and our office develops the technology standards for devices and systems that are used by 60,000 agencies and 5 million first responders.

It is April 2017 and we’ve launched with two EXCITING and CHALLENGING competitions!

Virtual Reality Test Environment Challenge with up to $50,000 in prizes for ideas around how to design a physical measurement environment that uses immersive virtual reality tools for testing new first responder technologies: Design a physical measurement environment that uses immersive virtual reality tools for testing new first responder technologies.


$35,000 in prizes for developing the best possible indoor localization and tracking app for Android smartphones. NIST data is available to competitors and finalists will be able to demonstrate their solutions at a live event at the Gaithersburg campus this year. Location based services are a critical technology area for helping first responders. This is one step among many that we expect to address in the coming years.

Overview of PSCR Prize Program:

We invite you to participate in prize competitions to drive innovation and advances in the following areas:

  1. Location Based Services (LBS) – 3D Indoor mapping, proximity services, 1-meter accuracy, and more
  2. Mission Critical Voice – Direct Mode, Push-to-Talk, LMR to LTE, and more
  3. User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX), with a focus on measurements and standards in virtual, immersive, and augmented reality and devices
  4. Data Analytics


Also in 2017, we expect to launch a creative video challenge for program promotional materials. They will tell the stories of why these technologies are critically important to the 320 million Americans who need timely and effective responses to emergencies and disasters. It will be posted here on and on

The programs will continue over the next five years, so check back often.

To interact with us:

  • You can sign up for our email list and get alerts and news.
  • Post a comment or question on the discussion board.
  • Register here at through the “Follow agency” orange button on the top right of this page, and we’ll keep you posted on the latest launches, news, and winners. There’s also a “public safety” interest choice on the sign-up form.
  • Email the program office:



News / Updates

US Tech Agency Seeks Ideas for Testing First Responder Tools:


More Information

The Public Safety Communications Research program is a joint effort between NIST/CTL and NTIA/ITS.  We are based at U.S. Department of Commerce laboratories in Boulder, Colorado.

Too often in critical situations, communications among public safety agencies are hampered by interoperability problems. These incompatibilities are largely due to a lack of standards for a common approach to public safety communications.

Our PSCR laboratories provide research, development, testing, and evaluation to foster nationwide communications interoperability. Drawing on critical requirements provided by public safety practitioners, the PSCR program provides insight to wireline and wireless standards committees developing standards for voice, data, image, and video communications.

The very successful research performance of the joint effort has earned two Department of Commerce Gold Medal awards, the highest honor granted by the Department, as well as two Silver and two Bronze Medal awards.

The PSCR program performs research on behalf of our sponsors at DHS OIC, DHS OEC, and NTIA FirstNet to advance public safety communications interoperability.


CTL logo

Institute for Telecommunication Sciences logo and link.


FirstNet Logo (registered) (1)


NTIA       Best DHS logo.png

One Discussion for "Public Safety Communications Innovation Accelerator"

  • tmarcoullier1
    Among the reasons we want you and everyone with ideas, concepts, and solutions to participate in the challenge competitions: "The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they're the ones who try the most," Grant says. "You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones." Details and inspriation in the TED talk: Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers

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NIST Virtual Public Safety Test Environment Challenge

Public Safety Communications Innovation Accelerator

Design a physical measurement environment that uses immersive virtual reality tools for testing new first responder technologies.

Closed OnMay 03, 2017

PerfLoc Prize Competition

Public Safety Communications Innovation Accelerator

Develop an indoor localization and tracking app using NIST test data!

Open UntilAug 17, 2017