Copyright © Envitia Group PLC 2017
The research in this presentation was conducted under contract with the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), contract #HSHQDC-13-C-00119. The opinions contained herein are those of the contractors and do not necessarily reflect those of DHS S&T.
Envitia was an active participant and technology provider in the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate sponsored Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Incident Management Information Sharing (IMIS) Internet of Things Pilot project and demonstration conducted as an Innovation Program (IP) initiative by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). The project sought to investigate how first responders could make better use of the plethora of sensors and wearables commercially available based on open platforms such as the Internet of Things and the OGC Sensor Web. The incredible diversity of available sensors, including positioning and ranging, biometrics, chemical detector, motion sensors, and others, provides innumerable ways of tracking and understanding responders’ locations, movements, status, as well as the corresponding status of various environmental threats. In addition, there is a broad set of options for delivering information to responders based on new technologies (mobile devices, wearables etc.).
Challenges in Responders Exploiting New Technology
First Responders face a number of significant challenges in using new technologies:
- The diversity of available sensors is shadowed by an equally diverse set of proprietary platforms, products, data exchange formats and delivery mechanisms. The capacity of these devices to contribute to situational awareness is immediately hamstrung by an inability to communicate or share information between users with different deployed technologies. As a result, law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, and others responding to the same incident are often operating off of completely different and incomplete descriptions of the situation; this problem is further compounded by challenging budget environments which often drive first responders to outfit themselves with, for example, mobile devices at their own expense.
- Even if the problem of inadequate interoperability were to be solved, the growing number of data streams, in itself a potential problem, would be compounded by exposing even more sensor feeds to even more users, inundating users with a deluge of information and soaking up bandwidth, detracting from their ability to obtain information immediately relevant and actionable to them.
- Finally, even if valuable sensor data could be isolated it must be delivered to operational users in a manner that fits seamlessly with their already challenging role. Short turnaround times, rapid-fire debriefs, and the pressure, danger, and importance of managing the incident allow no time for casually reviewing numerous sensors measurements for significant or anomalous readings.