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DHS-Funded App Helps First Responders Quickly Navigate to the Scene

Photo courtesy of DHS S&T

First Responders face challenges when they are called to the scene of an incident. Seconds count, and routing provided by in-vehicle terminals or popular navigation apps may help them arrive fast, but does not consider emergency vehicle-specific factors like size and turning radius, road hazards, or special road rules applicable to law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services.

A new app called QuickRoute, developed by Azimuth1 LLC with funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), aims to overcome these challenges and is now available for responders to download.

The iOS version is now available in the Apple store and the app is coming soon to Google Play. Currently, the civilian version is available free of charge. The version for emergency service vehicles requires a special code to be provided by the developer and is available at a monthly cost of approximately $10.

The QuickRoute project began in March 2018 and resulted in a routing app that understands the conditions and constraints emergency vehicle operators face and helps them to respond efficiently.

In April 2019, S&T and Azimuth1 field-tested QuickRoute with first responders and transportation stakeholders at a DHS federal law enforcement training facility in Maryland. The test plan, designed by S&T’s National Urban Security Technology Laboratory, had participants evaluate QuickRoute in several staged response scenarios, including medical emergencies, accident response, and fire calls, with hazards, weather events and roadway challenges placed along the routes.

Responders were asked to use the app to navigate through simulated lane closures, drive the wrong way down a one way road, cross over road dividers and enter a roadway via an exit ramp. Along each route, the app sent alerts about road or weather conditions that could hamper a timely response and suggested alternate routes to more immediately direct their specific vehicles to the simulated emergency scenes. Responders evaluated QuickRoute’s effectiveness, ease-of-use, and compatibility with both iOS and Android mobile devices.

Feedback gained during technology assessments during development were used to refine the user interface and the app’s back-end system.

Azimuth1 is inviting agencies across the country to demo QuickRoute, along with the ECC component dispatchers use to send destinations directly to individual users, who can respond using QuickRoute’s optimized vehicle routing protocols.

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