SkyeBrowse wins DHS grant to create new school safety technology
By Jim Magilli
Texas-based SkyeBrowse, a company that employs video technology in the public safety arena, will receive a portion of a major grant from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop drone-based technology that will help first responders react to an active -shooter situation and other threats to schools and other buildings.
Bobby Ouyang, SkyeBrowse’s CEO, said the start-up company, which has developed a video-based 3D-modeling platform, will split $10 million with Rutgers University over the 10-year life of the grant. The grant is part of a much larger program involving Rutgers and nine other major universities aimed at developing tactics to respond to terrorist and criminal attacks on so-called “soft targets” such as schools, hospitals, shopping malls and sports stadiums.
“We’ve gotten grants in the past but nothing major like this,” Ouyang said.
SkyeBrowse will use the grant funds to further develop its TacBrowse app, which allows emergency agency’s incident commanders to track the location of their personnel as they respond to a crisis situation inside a school or other structure.
“They’ll be able to see a point for every single officer. You can click on a point and get the officer’s information. It will show their location in the 3D model in real time,” he said. Because the app uses I-Phone or Android technology, incident commanders also will be able to see a live video feed of what each individual officer is seeing.
“As they’re moving through the different halls and wings of the school, that area of the 3D model will turn green. That means the area’s cleared,” Ouyang said. “The [artificial intelligence] will automatically determine the best path for clearing the building and determine the best path for evacuating the students and teachers.”
The technology will also allow teachers and principals as well as officers, commanders and emergency managers to view the 3D scenario in real time, allowing them to devise better evacuation plans to ensure students’ safety.
SkyeBrowse has worked with first-responder agencies and local school districts to create digital twins of a number of school campuses in the north-central Texas area, which can be used in conjunction with the TacBrowse app in response to emergency situations at those schools.
For other locations, where a previously created digital twin does not exist, SkyeBrowse can employ its patented videogrammetry technology to create a 3D model of the structure in the time it takes emergency responders to set up an incident command center, Ouyang said.
The technology employs thousands of high-resolution video frames to create a clearer, more accurate model than that provided by traditional photogrammetry. “It only takes about five to 10 minutes to create a 3D model,” Ouyang said.
SkyeBrowse Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Peter Jin helped secure a portion of the DHS grant for the company. Jin, a tenured professor at the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation, worked with Ouyang when the latter was a junior at Rutgers University, on a research project that would eventually evolve into the creation of SkyeBrowse.
“Rutgers is one of the consortium universities in the overall team. The theme of this grant is focused on soft-target protection, threats related to the bombing of a residence or major facilities, protecting crowds, that type of threat,” Jin said.
Last November DHS announced a $36 million grant to fund the creation of a new program led by Northeastern University. The SENTRY (Soft target Engineering to Neutralize the Threat RealitY) will create a system “that provides just-in-time information to key decision makers, such as the head of security at a big sports venue or the principal of an elementary school, to enable them to assess and thwart an attack,” according to a Northeastern statement.
SkyeBrowse will participate in one of two projects that Jin is co-directing under the SENTRY program.
“We budgeted some consulting work for SkyeBrowse to participate and to collect digital-twin data,” Jin said. Under the contract, SkyeBrowse will collaborate with Rutgers to produce digital-twin models of major infrastructure such as stadiums and other facilities.
Ouyang said the DHS grant would help SkyeBrowse achieve its goal of equipping first responders with the best state-of-the-art technology to help them ensure public safety.
“Our ultimate mission is to simplify emergency response with easy intuitive software, which allows responders to do their job and provide better information that makes their lives a lot safer,” he said.
Read more about SkyeBrowse:
Jim Magill is a Houston-based writer with almost a quarter-century of experience covering technical and economic developments in the oil and gas industry. After retiring in December 2019 as a senior editor with S&P Global Platts, Jim began writing about emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robots and drones, and the ways in which they’re contributing to our society. In addition to DroneLife, Jim is a contributor to Forbes.com and his work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, US News & World Report, and Unmanned Systems, a publication of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONLIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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