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SAVER Projects Assist Rural Communities in Making Procurements

Advances in technology provide emergency response agencies with tremendous opportunities to enhance capabilities. For example, technologies have evolved to allow for lightweight and compact systems capable of providing voice and data communications and information sharing over long distances even in rural and remote environments. Unfortunately, agencies from small communities often have limited resources and staffing, which severely limit their abilities to operate even at a minimal level, despite the need to stay abreast of technology, assess needs, apply for grants, and select equipment among many options. 

The System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) Program aims to assist responders from all types of agencies with procurement decisions by providing information that enables decision-makers and responders to better select, procure, use, and maintain emergency responder equipment. A program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and implemented through a network of technical agents, SAVER involves assessment of equipment prioritized by responders themselves. 

As a technical agent, the Eastern Kentucky University Justice and Safety Center focused on the needs of agencies from small and rural communities when conducting research and assessments. These agencies often: 

  • Lack resources to purchase expensive equipment, which places a premium on affordability and the availability of purchasing options. 
  • Struggle with maintaining and staying proficient on the use of equipment, which emphasizes the need for adequate training and intuitive user manuals. 
  • Operate in rural or remote areas that present unique requirements for equipment, including deployability over long distances and difficult terrain, capabilities to operate effectively in the absence of infrastructure, and usability during daytime and nighttime conditions and in harsh weather conditions. 

The SAVER Program assesses these factors—affordability, capability, deployment, maintainability, and usability—during assessments to help agencies of all sizes to identify equipment that meets their needs. 

In addition, there is a tendency among agencies looking to make a purchase to rely on marketing material and information from vendors. SAVER helps responders by assimilating product information from multiple vendors and provides objective information from end users regarding the capabilities of equipment. Agencies may use this information to justify purchases or apply for grants. 

For additional information about the SAVER Program and to review SAVER reports, visit the SAVER section of the Responder Knowledge Base Web site at: https://www.rkb.us/saver.

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