Executive Summary The challenge requires us to collect information about a burning structure and relay the acquired information to an onsite firefighter, so that they may navigate the burning structure safely and as quickly as possible. To collect information about a building we have designed an electrical device, called Ember, that senses variations in temperature and smoke, and that possesses an ultrasonic sensor that can measure distances of the surrounding areas. Multiple sensors within a single building can be used to render a model of the buildings floorplan and layout, which can be used later to navigate the building. The smoke and temperature sensors monitor the surrounding area and trigger an alert whenever there seems to be a fire. The device functions by constantly monitoring the surrounding environment and whenever there is a trigger the ultrasonic sensors activate to get a live feed of the buildings physical activity. To have preliminary data for a buildings layout, the devices would perform a preliminary sweep of the area in which they are installed. This acquired data can be relayed to a database at an emergency Dispatch Center, where any information about a burning building can be directed to the fire department. To further the depth of our database, public commercial building floorplans and building specs can be accessed and added to the database. This information can be useful in determining the age of building, possible structural complications, and floorplan layout. The information acquired from the sensors and by public information the database holding information about buildings can of great service to firefighters. Firefighters will have direct access to the information within the database and they will have the ability to manipulate any data within the database. For the collected information to be practical there must be an application that can conveniently allow firefighter to access the information. Therefore, we designed a program that organizes and presents the information from the database to the firefighters. The program will provide a live feed of hot-spots within the building. The sensors that are triggering off high temperature readings will be highlighted on the renderings of the building, so that navigation to the fire will be faster and easier. The motion sensors can also record any moving objects within their surrounding area, these objects could be stranded victims that need assistance out of the building, this will also be highlighted on the program. With the location of the fire and the location of victims known, the process of saving victims and putting out fires will safer and faster. The lead, or “commander”, of the firefighters then can safely navigate his team to any location in the building accurately, and then to quickly get them out.
Firestation: The fire station, specifically the fire chief, maintains and changes data that is crucial to the operation of the emergency the fire fighters are responding to. He has access to the database which is displayed from the user interface.
Database: The onsite database from the fire station stores and backs up all the necessary data such as floorplans, schematics of buildings, on-going emergencies, and data about the fire. All of this which is obtained from the sensor.
Data Collection: While the data is being stored in the data base, a parallel process is occurring, which is the data collection from the sensor located in the homes of the victims to the database itself. This all occurs in real time in the event of an emergency, which is then transferred to the fire chief and displayed to the laptop inside the firetruck.
Firetruck: The information displayed on the laptop is only for viewing purposes. The user cannot change the data, and is connected to the data base. The fire chief is the only individual that can change the data provided in the laptop. This reduces the confusion between each firefighter.
Workflow The application begins with the installation of Ember, the electrical device. The device collects a portion of the data and the rest is collected from public information supplied from the city. Also, if there is a trigger in any sensor live data begins to be recorded. The database storing all the information can then be directly accessed by firefighter in the event of a fire, firefighters should also be able to supply any updates to the database. Once the firefighter enters a scene they are given live updates of everything going on within the burning building, which is useful when navigating through a foreign building.
Projected Challenges Challenges Possible Solutions Being able to install Ember in every building Legislation, like that of smoke detectors, where Ember must be required in commercial buildings Power Failure In the case of a power outage, Ember can run off a battery for a period. If the battery begins to run out, then there can be an indicator that signals a low battery Obtaining information and distributing the information to the firefighters Create a partnership with a city where the firefighters can have access to possibly sensitive information. In exchange the city receives greater protection for their citizens
Research To better our system and to provide a better product to firefighters our team contacted Kansas City’s Fire Department Headquarters and spoke to an assistant fire marshal Tom Cleveland. With the information provided by Cleveland, we decided to focus on designing a system that specializes in easily navigating a firefighter in a building. Currently, there is no technology that allows for firefighter to have visual of what is going on within a burning building. Our process of collecting data and then delivering the data to a feasible application that firefighters can easily use, provides a system where firefighters can finally see the action going on in a burning building.