BIRD program to bring Israeli rescue tech to America

BIRD program to bring Israeli rescue tech to America

The US-Israel body that facilitates tech cooperation between companies in both countries has a new -– and lifesaving -- project

Screenshot of Red Alert, the Israeli app that warns locals of incoming missile attacks. (Courtesy)
Screenshot of Red Alert, the Israeli app that warns locals of incoming missile attacks. (Courtesy)

The BIRD Foundation, which helps bring Israeli tech to America via partnerships between Israeli and American firms, is turning its attention to next-generation first-responder technologies.

BIRD, the Israel–US Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation, is partnering with the Israeli Ministry of Public Security and the US Department of Homeland Security to fund projects that will improve the preparedness and capabilities of national rescue forces — including fire, police and first-aid units.

The foundation issued a Call for Proposals, inviting US and Israeli companies to submit collaborative projects, with the selected ones to receive funding.

The BIRD program matches Israeli hi-tech companies with US partners, that help produce and market a product or service, using the Israeli companies’ technology. Once the suitable partner is found, BIRD will also lend the companies money to fund projects, thereby boosting not only specific projects and technologies, but helping to further cement the relationship between the United States and Israel, as well as making a significant contribution to the lives of people affected by the technology in both countries and beyond, “reflected in myriads of projects in sectors such as improved networking systems, life sciences, food technology and, of course, the relatively new areas of clean-tech and renewable energy,” according to BIRD director Eitan Yudelovich.

Now, BIRD is turning its attention to first-responder technology, e.g., communications systems that will enable rescue forces to more effectively work together; enhanced technology for law enforcement; better safety equipment for firefighters; or apps to keep citizens in touch in case of a national emergency. BIRD expects to invest about $12 million in the projects, to be distributed over three years. Half of the investment will be provided equally by the two countries, with the investments managed by BIRD.

One of those solutions could be the LEX family of handhelds, made by Motorola Solutions and developed in Israel. The latest iteration of the device, the LEX 755 Mission Critical Handheld, is designed for first responders, police, homeland security, emergency medical workers and firefighters.

Developed largely in Israel, the LEX system enables users to communicate with each other using any protocol available — public 3G networks, the 4G LTE spectrum set aside for safety agencies with automatic roaming, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, CDMA, and WLAN — switching on the fly.

The devices also enable users to provide a shared operational view of an incident with staff in a communications center, providing them with high-quality streaming video, hardware-accelerated 3D graphics and an ultra-bright display that can be viewed in direct sunlight.

Motorola Solutions is developing a family of devices based on the technology used in the LEX 700, which, taken together, will provide law enforcement and safety workers, for the first time, with a full array of tools to allow them to do their jobs as effectively as possible, according to Avi Tooba, director of the Motorola Solutions Israel Design Center.

“These devices will be standard equipment in the ambulances and police cars of the future,” said Tooba.

Another candidate for the program is Israeli communications start-up’s eViglio, whose iOref app was chosen by the Ministry of Public Security to deliver location-based alerts and notification in real time to smartphones and PCs. iOref is the first national solution worldwide that will allow the dissemination of geo-targeted Internet based messages to millions of citizens within seconds. Citizens who are in the targeted area will be alerted and, in addition, even those who entered the alerted area after the message was submitted, will receive the alert as long as it is still relevant.

Besides sending alerts on “situations” — be they missile attacks, earthquakes, floods and major storms, and more — the app will integrate with 3rd-party navigation solutions, like Waze, to deliver real-time traffic instructions so users can navigate to the closest safe point, thus facilitating rescue and evacuation efforts.

“As a world leader in the field of public warning systems, eVigilo is proud to have been chosen to lead Israel’s next generation flagship program for population alert and notification. It is commonly agreed that Internet-based communication is the future and in time will surpass all existing communication methods,” said eVigilo CEO Guy Weiss.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan praised the BIRD initiative, calling it “a breakthrough for the first-responder sector in Israel. There is now a channel of significant value for development and innovation, which will deepen Israel’s global leadership in Homeland Security for the Israeli hi-tech sector and the Israeli market, in general.”

Dr. Eitan Yudilevich, executive director of BIRD, said that the organization “is pleased that the Ministry of Public Security and the Department of Homeland Security have selected the BIRD Foundation to lead the joint US-Israel NextGen First Responder Technologies program. This program will provide added value to promote and enhance innovation for developing advanced technologies for first responders and enable new business opportunities in a developing market for both Israeli and US companies.”

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