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Interactive info. and communication system BIBA


									                                    Interactive information and communication system
                                for emergency applications on the example of fire brigades
                                                      Marc C. Lemmel


Interactive information and communication system for emergency applications
on the example of fire brigades


Dipl.-Ing. Marc C. Lemmel
Hochschulring 20, D-28359 Bremen, Germany

Objectives of the required research

The duty of rescue services like fire brigades, ambulances, police forces etc. is very spontaneous and
difficult to plan. Most of the problems during action are unforeseeable. Therefore, it is necessary to work
very flexibly and tightly together with secondary organisations to quickly and directly get all the information
Many specialists with various qualifications and different equipment work together in flexible teams at
variable locations. Most of the time they cannot hear or see each other. The limited possibility to
communicate causes danger. Forces acting in buildings can hardly be informed about new or changing

State of the art in the area

Today, service teams are mainly equipped with walkie-talkies and cell-phones. Teams of two share one
walkie-talkie. In dangerous situations often both hands are needed. Hence it is nearly impossible to talk to
the partner via the walkie-talkie. The chief is connected via cellular communication to the fire department
and to secondary services. It is very difficult to give actual information to forces in action.
Building maps and floor plans often only exist on paper. That makes map use almost impossible.
Information about dangerous materials stored in burning buildings, and tunnels are stored at the department
or at other distant service facilities. It is difficult to give this valuable input in an exact and quick way.
Information about hazardous material stored in the object mostly reaches forces lately and the location is
not given very exactly. Much experience is required to handle these goods correctly. Databases are
existing but not accessible by the service person directly at the emergency site.

The recent scenario should be described on the example of fire brigades.

                                    Interactive information and communication system
                                for emergency applications on the example of fire brigades
                                                      Marc C. Lemmel

Today a fire alarm processes the following steps:

1. When a fire alarm reaches the fire department the dispatcher enters the information into the computer
   system. The systems checks which units are available and proposes the units to be alarmed. The
   dispatcher has to confirm this suggestion. A city map showing the environment of the object is
   displayed on a second monitor. In case of an existing pre fire plan this will be displayed too.

2. The selected units are alarmed through telephone, fax machine, intercommunication system (talk back
   circuit) or computer printout. Firemen, which are not located at the fire station are mostly alarmed by
   pager or telephone. They have to reach the fire station as soon as possible to get further information,
   clear their equipment and then enter the fire engine. This often causes time lag.

3. Some fire engines carry along folders with pre fire plans on paper which allow the captain to get
   information about the object. But it is very difficult to keep those pre fire plans up to date.

4. The captain of the first arriving fire engine has to search the control panel of the fire alarm system to
   assert in which zone the fire alarm occurred. Often one control panel is used for various buildings and it
   is necessary to drive further to the actual object.

5. Firemen have to find a way into the unfamiliar building by using floor plans. If the building is filled with
   smoke it is impossible to use any plans and the fireman must be guided via radio. Due to the use of
   self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs) it is very difficult to use walkie-talkies. Thermal imaging
   cameras to improve orientation are only available on command cars.

6. In case of missing persons, teams of fire fighters have to search the building for victims as soon as
   possible. Mostly, there is no technical equipment to guide and co-ordinate the teams.

7. The incident commander has to take care for monitoring the operation time of deployed firemen using
   e.g. breathing apparatus. The status of these firemen could only be checked by periodical radio

8. For further information the incident commander could use the communication equipment of the
   command car e.g. cell-phone and fax machines. These systems operate slowly and always need a
   helping hand on the other side. Computers with wireless network connection to the fire department or
   certain databases are extremely rare. Pre fire plans do not exist digitally. Data exchange with other
   institutions is difficult due to not existing standardised interfaces. Relevant data for the fire brigades is
   e.g.: available reinforcement, fire department connections and hydrant plans, hazardous materials data
   base, weather data, ground plans, number of persons registered in the building.

9. Transmitting relevant information from the command car to the deployed firemen via radio would cause
   heavy traffic at the used radio channel what could cause additional communication problems e.g.
   evacuation tone could not been heard.

                                    Interactive information and communication system
                                for emergency applications on the example of fire brigades
                                                      Marc C. Lemmel

10. Feedback to the fire department is given via radio, cell-phone or fax machine. The dispatcher at the
    fire department gets information with delay.

11. Usually fire brigades, rescue services and police use different radio channels. Information exchange
    between different organisations is often problematic e.g. the fire brigade is still searching for a missing
    person that the police has already rescued or is just carried out to hospital.

On bigger emergency sites it is even more problematic to keep an overview of deployed units and guide
them synchronously.

     urgency & requirements




     normal                                                                         normal
     operation                                                                      operation

              Figure 1: progression of information density during emergency operation

When an alarm occurs the requirement of information raises within minutes. Many different inputs are to be
transferred to various teams. Information from special departments and secondary authorities is requested.
With increasing engagement the requested bandwidth becomes higher and reaches it’s maximum by the
intervention of all forces required on the emergency scene. During this phase of engagement every
information and communication system is operating simultaneously to get the situation under control. Data
for audio and video interaction has to be transmitted securely and in real time. After this climax of
information density the engagement of service teams decreases and during the f        ollow through phase the
requested provision is reducing. Finally the situation will be restored to normality and the exchange of data
approaches normal operation.

                                    Interactive information and communication system
                                for emergency applications on the example of fire brigades
                                                      Marc C. Lemmel

Possible approach

To reduce time lag on alarm and ensure a secure and flexible operation of fire fighters a better technical
support is very helpful.

                   Figure 2: scenario of future fire fighting and rescue operations

A fire fighter could be equipped with the following features:

•   duplex communication system integrated into the helmet
•   CCD-camera with high sensitivity integrated into the helmet
•   HEAD-MOUNTED-DISPLAY (HMD) integrated into the helmet visor
•   bi-directional wireless audio, video and data transmission to every fireman
•   seamless support of local and post GSM communication systems
•   wireless and seamless internet access for incident commanders from fire department to location

                                   Interactive information and communication system
                               for emergency applications on the example of fire brigades
                                                     Marc C. Lemmel

A fire alarm supported by future communication and information technologies could be pursued by the
following steps (please compare with step numbers in section “fire alarm today”):

1. The fire alarm reaches the central computer in the fire department. The alarm message is generated by
   the emergency system of the object and contains the kind of emergency, the location and the exact
   time. The central computer alarms the responsible fire station, additional services within a couple of

2. The communication central of the fire station alarms the fire units via wireless information systems. Fire
   fighters, which are not located at the fire station, get a generated message on their PDA, which also
   contains, kind of emergency, location and which units are alarmed. The PDA determines the exact
   route to the fire station or even to the location of emergency regarding vehicle, traffic and equipment
   needed. During duty the location of every fire fighter is transmitted to the fire station via PDA.

3. While the fire engines are already on their way all information about the building like pre fire plans,
   materials etc. are uploaded from a central database and transmitted automatically to the wireless
   computer of the chief. He can inquire further digital information from secondary services
   simultaneously. The route to the location is generated digitally and transferred to all vehicles. This
   considerably reduces the alarm time.

4. The handheld computer of the incident commander is directly locked onto the fire alarm monitor of the
   building so that all emergency unit can be escorted directly to the zone they are needed. Changing
   situations are monitored directly.

5. To keep orientation fire fighters are equipped with head-mounted display (HMD). This can easily be
   integrated into the helmet. On base of digital floor plans, which are transmitted wirelessly from
   database, pointers are projected into the HMD to give the fireman the right direction. Additional
   information like locations of sprinkler vents or fire extinguishers etc. can be displayed in picture.
   The visual equipment would also allow a digital online mapping. This means that in cases of no existing
   floor plans like in smaller or older buildings the architecture would be recorded during the movement of
   the fireman. If now a couple of fireman are patrolling the building a central digital building would be
   generated automatically and accessible to all fire fighters involved in the operation. This raises the
   teamwork ability during the operation and avoids redundancies like two firemen patrolling in the same
   area without knowing.

6. Persons in danger can be located by taking the bearing of cell-phones or by using systems similar to
   GPS even if the victim is unconscious. In this case information concerning location and movement of
   the victim can be wirelessly transmitted via Internet to the incident commander. Then the actual
   position can be transferred directly to the fire fighter to help him reach the victim quickly with support
   of floor plans displayed in his head up helmet. The deployment of thermal cameras or similar devices
   can raise the orientation of fireman operating in smoke.

                                    Interactive information and communication system
                                for emergency applications on the example of fire brigades
                                                      Marc C. Lemmel

7. Fire fighters in action can be located permanently. Voice interaction to other teams or chiefs can be
   done simultaneously via wireless helmet communication system. Optical impressions from the helmet
   camera can be displayed on chief’s display on demand to guide critical operations directly.
   The wireless communication would also allow an online health monitoring of every fire fighter in during
   action. On base of the necessary sensors health data like pulse rate, breathing frequency etc. could be
   transmitted digitally, monitored and checked permanently. Dangerous operation could be interrupted
   on time. This would decrease the risk of health of fireman extremely.

8. Incident commanders could directly access via wireless interaction to encoded databases of official
   authorities to get e.g. floor plans, hydrant locations, material data, weather information, traffic etc. The
   wireless support enables incident commanders not to be located stationary.
   The handling of hazardous materials e.g. in chemical plants can be improved and the danger for the life
   of the fire fighter and other persons can be reduced significantly. Therefore a system that bases on
   modern knowledge of augmented reality is to be developed. This enables a secure work under
   adverse circumstances. Difficult manipulations can be carried out precisely with the aid of a schematic
   diagram displayed into the view of the helmet. Secondary information is given simultaneously via audio
   stream. Similar systems are on the way to be improved for space operation.

9. A communication system also supporting data transfer enables sending further information directly to
   certain fire fighters while talking.

10. The fire department is connected to the operation via internet and has always the exact state of every

11. Different authorities like police, ambulance etc. can access t e same data channels to synchronise
    every operation.

12. The exact overview of the operation is ensured by online transfer of all relevant data to responsible
    officers via wireless communication.

Further technical accessories are to be worn with the overall.

                                   Interactive information and communication system
                               for emergency applications on the example of fire brigades
                                                     Marc C. Lemmel

Requirements of standardisation

Every part of the interactive information and communication system has to be standardised on the highest
level to enable the best possibility for interaction inside teams and departments. New standards have to be
coordinated with existing systems to ensure a maximum of compatibility. Further the variety of used data
formats has to be reduced to make data useful to different organisations and enhance co-operation. This
supports a better and direct organisation in teams and between different authorities. Though also
international operations with many participants of different countries can be handled easier.

Therefore, 3 main data groups have to be focused:

1. Voice interaction (hardware / software)
2. Video transmission (unified data formats)
3. Database service provision (secured standardised gateways)

Expected results in focal points

Communication services and infrastructures have to be examined to support the following items:

•   wireless and freehand communication system with acoustical and optical interaction
•   helmet with optical and acoustical I/O-device for guidance and communication
•   audio and video guidance system in critical situations
•   augmented reality support for critical operation, e.g. handling of hazardous materials
•   seamless support for rural, urban and in-house communication
•   www-access to departments and secondary service facilities supports incident commander using PDA
•   location of persons in danger via GPS and cell-phones
•   reduction of alarm and access times
•   reduction of risk for service teams
•   relevant data about building, stored material etc. can be actualised easily and shared quickly by the use
    of central database
•   online mapping system for building without existing digital floor plans
•   remote control of peripherals like fire engine and automated extinguishers
•   transmission of health status, wearable sensors with wireless interaction
•   route prediction regarding traffic, vehicle size etc. to guide to emergency location
•   access to location based services on bigger emergency scenes like department stores such as video
    observation systems, check in terminals etc.
•   secondary information support like weather, further infrastructure needed on emergency scene to be
    organised though operator using several databases and links
•   feedback like access times of fire fighters after being alarmed
•   enhanced automation of emergency aggregates with use of wireless link support to reduce the

                                     Interactive information and communication system
                                 for emergency applications on the example of fire brigades
                                                       Marc C. Lemmel


Advantages and major goals of wireless technology support in the area of emergency management are:

    •   direct and standardised interaction between different authorities involved
    •   reduction of alarm sequence and operation time
    •   enhanced security in emergency business and less risk of life

The use of future wireless technologies in the safety and security business will bring a significant added
value to every involved service authority. Further it will raise the provision of safety and security for citizens
not only in emergency cases.


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