• Cockroaches gait informs search-and-rescue robot design

    More than 70 percent of Earth’s land surface is not navigable by wheeled or tracked vehicles, so legged robots could potentially bridge the gap for ground-based operations like search and rescue and defense. New insights on how cockroaches stabilize could help engineers design steadier robots for operating on difficult terrain.

  • Jumping soft robots avoid obstacles during search and rescue operations

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    These soft robots can already stand, walk, wriggle under obstacles, and change colors. Now researchers are adding a new skill to the soft robot tool kit: jumping. Researchers make the robots jump by using combustible gases. This ability to jump could one day prove critical in allowing the robots to avoid obstacles during search and rescue operations.

  • How to act if there is a fire on a high-speed train

    Researchers have used computer models to analyze the best way to evacuate the Spanish High Speed Train (AVE) in the case of fire; the involvement of the crew in organizing the fast transfer of passengers, completing the process before the train comes to a halt, and collective collaboration to assist those with reduced mobility are just some of the strategies to be followed

  • Earthquake risk looms large in the Pacific Northwest

    A comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coast confirms that the region has had numerous earthquakes over the past 10,000 years, and suggests that the southern Oregon coast may be most vulnerable based on recurrence frequency

  • Men in maritime disasters save themselves first --“women and children first” is a myth

    Since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been a widespread belief that the social norm of “women and children first” gives women a survival advantage over men in maritime disasters, and that captains and crew members give priority to passengers; a new study find that the Titanic disaster, in which 70 percent of the women and children on board were saved compared to 20 percent of the men, is a glaring exception to the rule; during maritime disasters, men use their relative strength to save themselves; what is more, studies of human behavior during natural disasters show the same results: in life-and-death situations, it is every man for himself

  • Science group: storing spent nuclear fuel in dry casks significantly safer then wet pools storage

    An NRC report on the lessons of the Fukushima disaster says that storing spent nuclear fuel in wet pools is “adequate” to protect the public; a science groups says there is a significantly safer way to store the 55,000 tons of radioactive waste currently stored by the 104 nuclear power plants operating in the United States: transferring the spent fuel to dry casks

  • Using cold plasma to fight fires

    Traditional fire-suppression technologies focus largely on disrupting the chemical reactions involved in combustion; from a physics perspective, however, flames are cold plasmas; DARPA, the Pentagon’s research arm, theorized that by using physics techniques rather than combustion chemistry, it might be possible to manipulate and extinguish flames

  • Small, local energy technologies to help sustain vital services during blackouts

    Researchers suggest that rethinking the solution to sustaining electric power — namely, starting small — could keep critical services going, even when the high-voltage grid is crippled; the U.S. military is already taking steps to protect its power supplies in the event of a massive grid failure by adopting small, local energy technologies, and California governor Jerry Brown recently announced that he wants 12,000 megawatts of such power supplies in his state

  • TeleCommunication Systems acquires next-generation 9-1-1 technology specialist microDATA GIS

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) predicts that state and local governments will spend up to $1.2 billion over the next ten years for NG9-1-1 upgrades, with an additional $1.5 billion spent on recurring connectivity, hosting, and operations and maintenance; TeleCommunication Systems acquires microDATA GIS, a next-generation 9-1-1 technology specialist

  • Bomb threat? There’s an app for that

    In the first chaotic moments after suspicion of a bomb threat, first responders have a myriad of questions, assessments, and decisions to make, all at once, and all the while the scene could be changing rapidly: Is the bomb real? How large is the potential blast radius? Where will we evacuate people? Are there any critical infrastructure or special-needs population centers in the vicinity? Any schools, hospitals nearby? What roads should be closed? Which roads should stay open for evacuees? There are many more questions, many more uncertainties; DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and its private sector partners have now developed a must-have app: the First Responder Support Tools (FiRST) for computers and smartphones

  • EF Johnson named to DHS TacCom supplier group

    TacCom is a multiple award Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract established in 2012 to help DHS purchase a full array of tactical communications products, infrastructure, and services for mission critical, public safety communications; the total funds spent on equipment through this contract may not exceed $3 billion, inclusive of options

  • Alabama on the 9-1-1 forefront -- again

    The first 9-1-1 call in the United States was placed in Alabama more than forty years ago; now, Alabama is on the 9-1-1 cutting edge again by replacing its TDM call routing  with a IP-based and Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) solution; the new system supports voice as well as text, images, video and other IP-based requests for emergency services

  • Safety profiles protect people, pets, and emergency responders

    Sixty-three percent of all U.S. households have a pet, the highest level in two decades; there are 78.2 million dog and 86.4 million cat owners, with more than half stating they would leap into action for an injured pet; registering pets in the owner’s safety profile would allow for safer, and more successful, rescue by first responders during emergencies

  • Rescue dogs from across U.S. to participate in certification exercise

    Rescue dogs and their handler teams must be re-certified every three years; the certification includes command control, agility tests, barking alert skills, and willingness to overcome fears of tunnels and wobbly surfaces under the guidance of the handler

  • Private, public partners in Illinois CBRN emergency drill

    First responders and authorities in Lake and Cook counties, Illinois, joined Army Reserve units to conduct Exercise Red Dragon 2012, a chemical, nuclear response exercise