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DHS S&T seeks language translator, maritime tracking technology for Coast Guard missions


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP), in partnership with the Coast Guard Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) and Innovation Program, is looking for start-ups to develop or adapt two technologies that could become part of Coast Guard mission execution. Other Transaction Solicitations for a language translator that functions in a maritime operational environment and maritime object tracking technology to more clearly mark and track objects in the water were posted Feb. 27, 2020.

SVIP and the Coast Guard will host a Homeland Security Day March 4, 2020, in Menlo Park, California, to discuss the two solicitations and other current Coast Guard operational needs

Language translator

The Coast Guard requires a language translator that can rapidly and effectively communicate in real time with non-English speakers and those who are unable to communicate verbally. In a variety of rescue and investigation missions, Coast Guard boarding teams must be able to communicate with vessel occupants who may not speak English or, in many cases, speak multiple languages. Accurate and swift translation of orders and directions are critical to the safety and security of the boarding team and the vessel occupants. Off-line capability is necessary because many Coast Guard interactions where translation devices are required are far out at sea, in extreme environmental conditions and in locations without cell service or internet connections.

“A language translation technology that is fast, accurate and easy to understand and operate would enhance Coast Guard mission capabilities,” said Wendy Chaves, head of the Coast Guard RDT&E and Innovation Program. “Once deployed, this device would automatically identify numerous languages, translate and display conversations in real time so Coast Guard staff and the public they serve can understand each other more quickly and accurately.”

Maritime object tracking technology

The Coast Guard is the lead federal agency for 11 statutory missions including drug interdiction on the high seas, as well as search and rescue, migrant interdiction, and others. To better execute these responsibilities, the service needs a more reliable system for clearly marking and accurately monitoring objects in the water for recovery. 

“During the course of normal operations, Coast Guard aircraft and vessels come across numerous types of jettisoned objects, and navigation hazards that need to be recovered from the seas and waterways,” Chaves said. “The Coast Guard is interested in robust buoy tracking solutions that are interoperable with current USCG maritime and aviation assets, both in pursuit or on patrol.”

On behalf of DHS Operational Components, SVIP invests in start-up companies with viable technologies suitable for rapid prototyping projects from across the nation and around the world to adapt, develop and harness cutting-edge capabilities that are commercially sustainable while simultaneously meeting the needs of DHS operational components and programs.

“DHS is committed to using cutting-edge technologies and scientific talent in its quest to make America safer,” said Melissa Oh, SVIP managing director.

For more information: Research, Development, Test and Evaluation program page and Innovation program page.