The Crisis Technologies Innovation Lab in Indiana University’s Pervasive Technology Institute has been awarded $8 million to help create life-saving technologies for first responders. IU says the lab will host competitions to create tools to increase safety and effectiveness in everyday and disaster environments.

The funding comes from the Public Safety Communications Research Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The lab says, along with its partner Indianapolis-based KSM Consulting, it will administer a series of competitions for companies, entrepreneurs and students to find the best solution for indoor 3D tracking for first responders.

“Tracking is a huge problem for first responders,” said David Wild, professor in the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering and director of the lab. “GPS just tells you roughly within a few meters where on earth somebody is. It’s not accurate enough to tell you what room in a building somebody is in, nor can it ascertain elevation properly in a building.

Competitors’ innovations will be tested and judged at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Edinburgh, which includes 190 structures and more than 1.8 miles of tunnels on 1,000 acres. IU says entrants with the most success in the most environments will be awarded prize money from the initial $8 million to further develop their technology, Wild said.