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In the event of a disaster, first responder teams can be faced with the challenge of searching for survivors, and in situations such as a building collapse, there remains a technological gap with respect to finding those that are trapped underneath rubble, or in between crevices, created by large piles of concrete, metal, glass, and other materials. 

The need for new search and rescue technologies gained importance following the World Trade Center’s collapse on September 11, 2001 and resurfaced 20 years later after an incident in Surfside, Florida, where first responders were required to “accurately and non-invasively find survivors, essentially to “see” through walls, smoke, debris, and obstacles.”

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program is seeking information on technologies that can detect trapped survivors in collapsed buildings and voids. A request for information notice from the DHS Science and Technology Directorate seeks offerings that were developed using federal agency grants under the Small Business Innovation Research program.

The DHS SBIR Program is partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop new subterranean remote search technologies for its Urban Search & Rescue branch. This system organizes federal, state, and local partner emergency response teams as integrated federal disaster response task forces, which deploy to disaster areas, according to dhs.gov.