At CES, The Government Wants New Tech For Public Health and Safety

The Department of Homeland Security's R&D arm is at CES, looking for innovative companies who want to work with the government.

At CES, The Government Wants New Tech For Public Health and Safety
Newsy Staff

For the first time, the Department of Homeland security tells Newsy they have a robust presence at CES 2020.  Andre Hentz, Acting Deputy Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, is looking for new, smaller companies who want to work with the government.

"There's been a disconnect between our operational constraints and the knowledge that the innovation community has. So what we're trying to do out here at CES is we're trying to motivate a relationship between our operational components who have real life mission challenges and the innovation community," he said.

Tech startups and government contracts aren't an especially traditional relationship, but Hentz says DHS has created a new program for nontraditional contracting. For smaller contract amounts, less than 800,000 dollars, selected innovators can get a fast track to secure a partnership.

"Most people 10 years ago when you saw DHS, you would have thought Katrina. Right. And five years ago you would have thought FEMA. And today, you know what's in the news? It's CBP. But the fact is S&T underpins all of those mission operations," Hentz told Newsy.

This thinking extends beyond the federal government. Across the country, state governments are exploring tech for safety, too. At CES 2019, Panasonic partnered with state departments of transportation in Colorado, Utah and Georgia. Their new platform lets cities and their vehicles share and update road conditions and other safety information. 

"Being able to understand the state of that driver in terms of attentiveness or drowsiness or worse is a core competency that we're working on very aggressively,"  Morrisson, Director Advanced Engineering, Panasonic Automotive said.

At CES this year, Panasonic's Scott Morrisson told Newsy they are researching stress sensors for drivers.

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This sort of smart car technology has a track record now. For the past year, Israel's EMS system has used technology from startup MDGO, that collects information about crashes for first responders automatically.

"This has been going on for a year now with over 1300 crashes," Gilad Avrashi, Co Founder and CTO of MDGo said. "They dispatch an ambulance without having a phone call and that person saying there's an injured person, come and get him, they get an automatic pop up from our system saying this person is in the vehicle. This is most likely what he suffers from. So they can get and make the decision what type of ambulance to send."

For now in the U.S., tools like these will depend on getting the word out. Hentz says they’re hopeful for the response they’ve gotten during CES. 

"[The Science & Technology Directorate] has a significant role to play in partnership with our operational components. And so I think that coming out to CES is the starting place for us to establish more of that and take it to the next level for the 21st century," Hentz said.