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Workshop to Address Critical Need for Technology to Track First Responders Inside Buildings

Date: 2011-07-19
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Sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology, the sixth annual workshop will feature live demonstrations of location and tracking technologies and keynote speakers from NASA and Qualcomm

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a leader in the development of technology for safeguarding the lives and health of first responders, will host the sixth annual International Workshop on Precision Indoor Personnel Location and Tracking Technology Aug. 1-2, 2011.

Precision indoor location technology is designed to help firefighters, police officers, and EMTs quickly locate and rescue colleagues who become lost, disabled, or trapped inside buildings. A 2008 report by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) identified becoming lost or disoriented inside buildings as one of the leading causes of firefighter fatalities. The inability to precisely locate and track first responders inside the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 contributed to difficulties in managing the response to that disaster, and the loss of six firefighters in a 1999 warehouse fire in Worcester occurred when two firefighters became lost in the building and four others attempted, unsuccessfully, to find them.

The workshop is the only comprehensive forum in the field and will bring together approximately 150 leading researchers from industry, academia, and government, members of the first responder community, and representatives of federal, state, and local governments to discuss progress made in indoor location technology over the past decade, to explore challenges and priorities for the future, and to see how actual location systems perform in realistic search and rescue simulations.

A highlight of the workshop will occur on the morning of Aug. 2, when location and tracking systems being developed by Trimble Navigation, a leader in Global Positioning System technology, and MSA, a leading manufacturer of safety products, will be tested in a rigorous real-world simulation designed and executed by firefighters from the Worcester Fire Department. The systems will be used by firefighters to locate a "lost" firefighter in a WPI academic building in a realistic search and rescue scenario.

Also included will be a status report on GLANSER (Geospatial Location Accountability and Navigation System for Emergency Responders), a project funded by DHS and managed by Honeywell, Argon ST, and TRX Systems; briefings and demonstrations by more than 30 companies and government and academic research labs (including WPI's) that are developing location technology for first responders; and a review of the history and status of work on developing commercially viable location systems by John Sullivan, deputy chief of the Worcester Fire Department, and Ric Plummer, a fire engineer and consultant.

Additional details about the workshop may be found at

- People, Places & Things/ (via WPI, 7/18/11) Image via WPI website.



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