While E9-1-1 and the evolution to Next Generation 9-1-1 allow us to get our first responders to a building in a more efficient and informed manner, once they get to the building, they have no idea what’s going on inside. The lack of in-building situational awareness is a tremendous issue for first responders. It’s like Indiana Jones facing perilous challenges before reaching the Grail. At any moment, he could be seriously injured or worse because he has no idea what dangers might be waiting for him and where they might be lurking. If he had situational awareness about his surroundings, he could better plan his route and deal with now known issues and challenges in the safest way possible.
What do we mean by situational awareness? As buildings get smarter with more technology, we are, in a way, enabling them to speak. If a building could speak, what would it say? What questions would you ask it? What if it could show you where a threat exists? Situational awareness is having the ability to know exactly what is going on and where in the building the problem or threat exists. How powerful would it be to know the floor, the room, and the condition of the area where the incident occurred even before the first responder arrives on scene?
While location of an incident within a building is critical, situational awareness also includes detecting the other conditions first responders may encounter. For example, if there is a fire in the building, knowing how close that fire is to dangerous chemicals that could cause an even bigger problem, is critical information. Having access to building cameras for visual information or sensor feeds to tell them where smoke and heat are headed can help with preemptive tactics. Motion sensors or RFID information can tell first responders if there are people in the building and where they are, which helps with evacuation planning.
In-building situational awareness is further enhanced with access to analytics about the building and its condition. At the recent Enterprise IoT Summit in Austin, Texas, it was stated that gathering data from sensors and other devices is good, but the real value comes when we do something with that data. Analytics is the enabler to providing actionable data. There are several types of analytics that can provide life-saving information while on scene. By collecting data from the various building systems, cameras and sensors, analytics engines can provide information that describe the building’s current condition, and they can diagnose the threat and the likelihood of how it started. These analytics can predict what may happen next, and even prescribe the next best action. It’s this actionable data that makes all the difference.
However, the most startling advancement in situational awareness is visualization. Having the ability to see where a problem exists within a building provides information to first responders about the quickest, most efficient, and safest approach to resolving an incident. In a recent meeting with the Department of Homeland Security, they made it very clear that visualization of the inside of a building is a priority for them as they look for ways to help the first responder community solve this troubling gap. At BuildingDNA, we have cracked the code to providing visualization technology that provides real-time visual situational awareness. We are passionate about our work. Our purpose is to create safer, more sustainable communities…one building at a time.
Our IntraBuilding Visual Awareness (IVA) solution is designed to fill the situational awareness gap for public safety to help our first responders in their effort to save lives, and to keep them safe while doing it.