Civic Innovation Challenge Announcement: Congratulations to the VERT Team!

Montgomery County (Maryland) CERT and their academic partners were selected as Stage 1 awardees of the Civic Innovation Challenge, a national research and action competition in the smart and connected communities domain. Their project focuses on training community members to work with expert systems in identifying COVID-19 and other disaster-related risks posted on social media. By replicating and extending their proven approach nationwide, they provide situational awareness for emergency management by using Human-AI Teaming.  The team has been awarded $50,000 to support the refinement of their project and has the opportunity to compete for awards of up to $1 million to support project implementation. The academic partners are the Technology & Information Policy Institute at the Moody College of Communication and Good Systems at The University of Texas at Austin, the PamplinCollege of Business at Virginia Tech, The Department of Cybersecurity at Brigham Young University, and the Department of Information Sciences and Technology in Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University.  More about their project is available at

The Civic Innovation Challenge supports ready-to-implement pilot projects that have the potential to produce scalable, sustainable, and transferable solutions to address community-identified challenges in the mobility and resilience domains. The competition is funded with $11 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Project teams comprise civic partners—such as local, state and tribal government officials, and non-profit and community leaders—working together with researchers. More information about the competition and the Stage 1 winners can be found at