recommended reading

How Robots and Dogs May One Day Work Together to Save Your Life

A search dog stands in a water and looks back at handlers at the scene of a deadly mudslide in Oso, Wash.

A search dog stands in a water and looks back at handlers at the scene of a deadly mudslide in Oso, Wash. // Elaine Thompson/AP

Imagine a disaster -- an earthquake, say. Cellular signals and Wi-Fi have been wiped out, so first responders deploy hotspot-mounted drones. An app on your phone connects to the emergency network directly or via a daisy chain of nearby devices. You can now report your situation and needs.

A command center takes in data from you and other app users, as well as from a team of search dogs wearing a variety of sensors, including cameras, microphones, gas sensors, GPS, Geiger counters and physiological monitors to gauge the animals’ own heart rates and states of being.

When a gas leak is detected, operators send in a haptic robotic arm to cut the flow via a joystick-like controller. Humanoid robots, meanwhile, are rescuing people trapped in a burning building.

This is the vision of the Smart Emergency Response System designed by a team of academics and private companies as part of the Smart America Challenge, a federal effort launched in December by participants in the Presidential Innovation Fellows program to spur the technology behind cyber-physical systems and the Internet of things.

“Cyber-physical systems are integrated hybrid networks of cyber and engineered physical elements,” federal Chief Technology Officer Todd Park explained Wednesday. “These cyber and physical elements come together like peanut butter and jelly to make a really tasty sandwich.”

A demo of the emergency response system, which is still in development, was on display along with 23 other projects at the Smart America Challenge Expo in Washington.

“Some parts of this already existed as separate projects,” Park said of the response system. “But the nine organizations are now working as a collaborative Smart America team, and they found new ways to integrate and expand the system.”

Park touted the societal gains this new technology will make possible. “We believe that these 24 projects demonstrate that cyber-physical and Internet of things can provide concrete, significant, growing socioeconomic benefits that create jobs and business opportunities,” he said. “They can boost American competitiveness, they can improve our health, our environment, our quality of life, and they can increase our resilience in the face of disasters.”

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.