US-Israel collaboration encouraged at JCRC first responders technology summit

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Nearly 100 officials from more than 30 agencies, organizations, and technology companies gathered for the U.S.-Israel NextGen First Responders & HLS Technology Summit on Nov. 15. The summit, hosted by JUF, explored partnership opportunities between Israeli and American companies and local first responders, as well as the current technological needs of local agencies.

Speaking at the opening of the summit, JCRC Chair Bill Silverstein remarked "JUF is grateful to the police departments and other agencies with whom we work to protect our community and our fellow citizens. We are also proud of our efforts to bring together Israeli and American business and civic leaders for the benefit of both nations."

The BIRD Foundation was a co-sponsor of the summit. BIRD is an acronym for Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development, and the foundation was established by the U.S. and Israeli governments in 1977 to generate mutually beneficial cooperation between the private sectors of the U.S. and Israeli high tech industries. BIRD supports approximately 20 projects annually. Representatives from partnerships spoke about the positive impact the exchange of technology and ideas have had on their companies.  

Officials representing the Chicago Police Department, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Chicago Fire Department and Houston Police Department shared the outstanding challenges their departments face, such as getting information to first responders on-the-ground.

"Technology plays a key role in what we do," said the Illinois National Guard's Major General Richard J. Hayes. "There are so many lessons from Israel that can be applied here in the U.S."

First responders are turning to innovative technology in Israel to provide innovative solutions. Twelve Israeli companies had the opportunity to pitch their products and services. The advanced technology ranged from HAAS Alert, which warns motorists of emergency scenes through navigation apps, to Salamandra Zone, which offers fire-resistant and protective spaces for residents in high-rises to utilize in emergencies.

"There's a high level of preparation that goes on in Israel, and I'd love to bring that back here. We learn from you, and you learn from us, and it's critical," said Colonel Kirk R. White of the Indiana National Guard.

The summit also featured a technology development panel, featuring executives from Motorola, Federal Signal, Responder Ventures, and TechNexus. Dan Cotter, the director of the Department of Homeland Security's First Responders Group, delivered the keynote speech. 

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