Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Homeland Security Seeks to Commercialize Technology for Tracking Firefighters

The technology, developed by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security research group, consists of ZigBee-based sensors and "breadcrumb" routers that communicate with a base station operated by a firefighter's commanding unit.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 09, 2011Three months after announcing the development of technology for tracking firefighters within a burning building, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has entered into discussions with a number of vendors about how to commercialize the system. The solution consists of wireless technology that tracks a first-responder's location and condition, and transmits that data via a series of "breadcrumb" routers. The goal is to have the technology in use during the coming year, by fire departments as well as by other companies for which a worker's safety and condition could be in question.

Historically, tracking first-responders within a burning building has required two-way radio contact. Radio frequency identification and other wireless-technology companies have been developing solutions that would allow transponders worn by emergency personnel to transmit to a base station. Ensuring transmission in the presence of metal, concrete and water, however—as well as determining a tag's location as it transmits—has been an obstacle to commercializing such a system.


The GLANSER contains sensors that include a gyrometer, an accelerometer, an altimeter, a magnetometer and a compass, all of which are used to estimate a firefighter's location.

S&T, which manages science and technology research to protect the U.S. homeland, has developed a potential means to address to this problem. The solution, known as the Wireless Intelligent Sensor Platform for Emergency Responders (WISPER), is designed to keep the transponder in contact with a base station via a ZigBee (IEEE 802.15.4) connection, via tiny "breadcrumbs" that are automatically dropped from a canister (also known as a dispenser) worn by the responder, when needed to form a mesh network.

The breadcrumbs are wireless, battery-powered routers that can receive data and transmit it to the next receiver within range, thereby ensuring that a transmission from a transponder worn by a firefighter makes its way to a base station, where the fire chief or commander outside the building uses a laptop computer to monitor the situation.

WISPER's router, dispenser and base station were developed by Oceanit Laboratories Inc., of Honolulu, and the University of Virginia's Department of Computer Science, under S&T's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Login and post your comment!

Not a member?

Signup for an account now to access all of the features of RFIDJournal.com!

PREMIUM CONTENT
Case Studies Features Best Practices How-Tos
RFID JOURNAL EVENTS
Live Events Virtual Events Webinars
ASK THE EXPERTS
Simply enter a question for our experts.
TAKE THE POLL
JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON TWITTER
Loading
RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations
© Copyright 2002-2016 RFID Journal LLC.
Powered By: Haycco