U.S.-Canada AI Partnership Aims to Help First Responders

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is piloting a new artificial intelligence (AI) initiative with Canada’s Department of National Defense that kicked off today and aims to provide first responders and paramedics with information to help make potential life-saving decisions in the field.

DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is partnering with the equivalent Canadian organization–Defense Research and Development Canada Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS)–“to evaluate the use of AI and situational awareness technologies during critical incidents,” S&T said in a statement released today.

Part of the AI initiative will involve a field experiment leveraging S&T’s Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction and sYnthesis (AUDREY) AI capability. Developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, AUDREY is “a state-of-the-art human-like reasoning system” that “will help provide tailored situational awareness information to support and improve paramedic decision-making and quality of patient care during a paramedic response scenario,” S&T said.

“Paramedics make hundreds of critical decisions about how to assess, treat and transport patients,” said Gerry Doucette, portfolio manager for policing and law enforcement at DRDC CSS. “With AUDREY, we want to see how artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics can enhance that decision-making and help improve patient outcomes, and the healthcare system.”

That experiment is slated to begin in early 2019 in Hastings County, the second-largest county in Ontario, Canada. But examining the use of AI to aid first responders in both nations will begin today, S&T said.

Over the next two years, the partnership will involve various research and development programs, joint workshops, and other field experiments “to ensure both American and Canadian next generation first responders are better connected, protected and fully aware during critical incidents,” S&T said. The piloted technologies may one day be used by paramedics throughout the United States.

The initiative is part of S&T’s Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Apex Program, which includes more than 40 research and development projects aimed to help first responders in the field by striving for constant connectivity and awareness. The five-year program kicked off in January 2015.

John Merrill, director of the NGFR Apex Program, said that partnering with our neighbor to the north will lead to better care for each country’s citizens at reduced cost for both nations.

“Canadian and American responders have very similar requirements,” Merrill said. “By jointly determining research and development priorities between the two countries, we can reach our goal faster and more efficiently, eliminating duplication of effort and optimizing funding.”

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