The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) initiated the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Apex program in January 2015 to develop and integrate next-generation technologies to expand first responder mission effectiveness and safety. The NGFR Apex program works with first responders across the country to ensure they are protected, connected and fully aware, regardless of the hazards they face. The program is developing and integrating technologies that are modular (have the ability to integrate via open standards and interfaces) and scalable (have the ability to build a large and complex system or a small and streamlined system). Beyond developing individual technologies that can integrate, the goal of the NGFR Apex program is to define the open-source standards that enable commercially developed technologies to integrate together and into existing first responder technologies.
To guide industry to develop, design, test and integrate these technologies, DHS S&T developed this NGFR Integration Handbook, which identifies standards, interfaces and data flows that would allow public safety agencies to integrate hardware, software and data of different technology solutions, building their own public safety system. DHS S&T does not intend or desire to draft new standards, only to identify and recommend existing standards that developers may implement. This handbook is meant to start the conversation about how industry can partner with responders to make technologies that are easier to integrate and provide meaningful capabilities to operational users. DHS S&T invites industry to review this handbook and provide feedback – we will build this interoperability model together.
The NGFR Integration Handbook is organized in three parts, with each part increasing in level of technical detail. This is Part 1: Introduction, which reviews the NGFR Apex program and the basic components that make up the Responder SmartHub – the on-body sensor and communications networks that make integration possible. This section is intended for executive audiences who do not necessarily have technical knowledge. In Part 2: Engineering Design, the handbook presents a more detailed technical review of the components and the interoperability standards applied to facilitate integration. In Part 3: Technical Supplement, the handbook dives deeper into the programming required to enable data and software integration, and also includes a full list of NGFR Apex program requirements – all defined in partnership with first responders – to help industry develop technologies more closely aligned to user needs.