Cincinnati Student Challenge Generates Innovative Technology Solutions for Public Safety

AT&T Blog Team
June 16, 2022
Public Safety


Cincinnati Student Challenge Generates Innovative Technology Solutions for Public Safety

First responders today rely on an ever-evolving set of tools and technologies, from 2-way radios to smartphones and laptops. FirstNet®, Built with AT&T recently joined with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) to take that evolution to a new level, hosting a First Responder Student Innovation Challenge at the University of Cincinnati. The 2-week event brought UC students and local public safety agencies together to explore how technology can enhance first responders’ ability to address critical situations.

  • Each of the 6 multidisciplinary student teams was led by 2 coaches: an active first responder and a member of UC faculty.
  • Every team was assigned a distinct theme: transportation, police, fire, EMT/hospitals, emergency management and dispatch/9-1-1.
  • Teams experienced a hands-on look into their theme in the form of a job shadow, ride along or similar exposure to the current reality.
  • Finally, each team developed a presentation sharing theme insights and describing an innovative, yet feasible, technology solution to increase the efficiency or effectiveness of public safety work within that theme

FirstNet, Built with AT&T Consultant Ryan Favor (far left) and AT&T Ohio External Affairs Director Mark Romito (far right) congratulate the winners of the First Responder Student Innovation Challenge (l to r) – Tam Nguyen, Abishekraj Prabakaran, and Shurendher Kumar

The first responder coaches included:

  • Andy Knapp and Scott Brown, Hamilton County, Ohio Communications/9-1-1
  • Morgan Peterson, Hamilton County Emergency Management
  • Fire Capt. Lou Ernstes and Police Lt. Steve Schueler, Blue Ash, Ohio
  • Terri Haynes, Jewish Hospital EMS Coordinator
  • Reggie Price, Metro Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Safety Specialist

“The coaches were key to making this event a success,” said Ryan Favor, FirstNet, Built with AT&T Consultant. “They spent hours with the students and helped them understand what it’s like to be a first responder and some of the challenges. Their efforts resulted in the students developing some very cool technology-based solutions. We greatly appreciate their participation.”

“The student teams did an excellent job of leveraging capabilities of FirstNet to present innovative solutions for public safety’s biggest communication challenges.” Kyle Richardson, Senior Public Safety Advisor, First Responder Network Authority

The winning student team was the dispatch/9-1-1 team. They proposed an artificial intelligence system with speech recognition that could automatically categorize 9-1-1 calls, prioritize dispatch and use background noise to collect other insights about the incident.

  • The proposed system could save precious moments in response time. And faster processing of 9-1-1 calls could also identify duplicative calls more efficiently.

“For challenges like this, collaboration between first responders and intellectually-curious students is so important,” said Kyle Richardson, Senior Public Safety Advisor for the FirstNet Authority. “These immersive experiences were key to understanding how nationwide trends in public safety communications play out in the local Cincinnati area. The student teams did an excellent job of leveraging the capabilities of FirstNet to present innovative solutions for public safety’s biggest communication challenges.”

We want to thank the students, first responders and FirstNet Authority, which helped to define the parameters of the Innovation Challenge based on nationwide public safety communication trends, for playing a compelling and unique role in developing innovative and immersive solutions for the public safety community.