First Responders Tech Tested in New York Large Scale Urban Exercise

first responders

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A large-scale exercise to assess authorities’ capabilities to improve first responders’ preparedness and response to an urban, critical incident was recently conducted at the Grand Central Terminal in New York. The New York Police Department (NYPD), the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department (MTA-PD), New York State Police and the National Guard participated in the exercise. According to, the purpose was to evaluate tactics, techniques, and procedures these agencies would utilize while responding to a critical incident.

Technologies applied during the exercise included ones that address blue-force tracking and situational awareness, gunshot detection, and video analytics were jointly selected by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the responder agencies, integrated into the exercise, used by exercise responders and commanders, and assessed to determine their effectiveness in managing a critical incident response.

One of the new technologies used was TRX Systems’ NEON Personnel Tracker solution, which provides 3D tracking of first responders and visualization inside critical infrastructure and dense urban areas, including within large public transport structures, within stadiums and underground.

The DHS S&T selected this technology to be tested for the ability to improve first responders’ preparedness and response to a major incident within a large public facility.

NEON delivers real-time personnel tracking in these GPS-denied environments, improves situational awareness, command effectiveness and safety for first responders, according to the company’s announcement on

It is an Android application tightly integrated with the NEON Location Service where a suite of patented algorithms fuse inertial sensor data, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi readings and inferred map and building data to deliver reliable 3D location. Personnel wearing a small, NEON Tracking Unit and carrying an Android device can now be tracked and located in real-time and for after action review, according to the company’s website.

Optional use of geo-referenced Ultra-wideband or Bluetooth beacons may be implemented for initialization of location and to enhance location precision. The location service is also available for integration in 3rd party solutions.  

“We know that having the right technology in the hands of a first responder can save critical minutes or seconds — and reduce injuries and save lives,” said DHS Under Secretary (Acting) for Science and Technology, William N. Bryan. “The needs of responders and the public are at the center of every decision we make as S&T works to leverage new technology to make our nation’s first responders better protected, connected, and fully aware, regardless of the hazards they face.”

“The world we live in today demands that we have the training and capability to respond to incidents in any public environment. The recent horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas has unfortunately demonstrated that this exercise is timely and relevant,” Mr. Bryan said.