First responders are often the primary line of defense for U.S. communities, responding to an evolving spectrum of natural and man-made threats. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) works closely with first responders across jurisdictions and disciplines to improve their safety and effectiveness.
S&T works hand-in-hand with members of all first responder disciplines — law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services and emergency management officials, as well as innovators and industry — to develop capabilities that:
- Make first responders safer
- Improve communication tool security and effectiveness
- Enhance data and information sharing during daily, emergency or joint operations
- Promote and sustain partnerships with responders and responder organizations across the nation at all levels
- Help investigate cybercrime and cases involving digital evidence
- Secure 911 emergency call systems from cyberattacks
S&T holistically examines responder technology and capability needs and safety requirements. Starting with first responder uniforms and working outward, S&T helps first responders integrate sensors that monitor their health, location and safety, as well as improve uniforms’ protective properties. S&T develops first responder technologies and conducts market surveys and assessments to help responder organizations make informed buying decisions. From ensuring interoperability to improving connectivity and capabilities, S&T’s programs and projects also encompass the communications spectrum.
S&T strives to identify first responder needs, identify existing technology, and work with the development community and industry to provide solutions that improve effectiveness, efficiency and safety.
No emergency is standard. S&T strengthens first responder capabilities in daily operations and in response to critical incidents and catastrophic events and modern criminal investigations.
Current Projects and Programs
S&T maintains a growing list of transitioned technologies that were all imagined and field-tested by first responders across the country and are now available for agencies and other members of the Homeland Security Enterprise to procure.
The following resources provide more information about some of our projects.
DHS recognizes that first responders at the Federal, State and local level are on the front lines of providing support to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visit the S&T Videos page for project specific videos.
Visit the First Responder News page for recent news products.
First Responder Communities of Practice (FRCoP)
First Responder Communities of Practice is a professional networking, collaboration and communication platform created by S&T to support improved collaboration and information sharing among the nation’s First Responders and other federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local governments and private sector stakeholders supporting homeland security efforts. This vetted community of members focuses on emergency preparedness, response, recovery and other homeland security issues.
With a FRCoP account, you can:
- Collaborate on wikis, blogs and discussion boards
- Find, share and store documents and best practices
- Create and search profiles
- Connect, chat, and email with other professionals
To request an account, complete the online form on communities.firstresponder.gov
National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL)
As a federal laboratory organized within DHS S&T, the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory brings together the interests and initiatives of the Homeland Security Enterprise with the first responder community. The laboratory’s mission activities in test and evaluation and research and development help first responders prepare, protect and respond to homeland security threats.