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Missouri City Staging IoT Pilot for Storm Emergency Simulations

The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology division is working with the Open Geospatial Consortium and the City of St. Louis to develop an integrated emergency-response system that will include sensors and software to detect and respond to river floods, flash floods, fires, car accidents and stranded individuals.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 08, 2019

The City of St Louis, Mo., is preparing for a two-day smart-city pilot that will test Internet of Things (IoT)-based technologies to improve emergency responses. The December pilot, led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology directorate and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), will simulate five emergency scenarios resulting from heavy rains.

Eight technology companies will provide software, sensors or communication networks to aid in the simulated response. Technology used in the IoT pilot will include wireless sensors either worn by rescue personnel or installed in key locations around the city. OGC's Smart City Interoperability Reference Architecture (SCIRA) software aims to serve as an interoperable open standard framework that can be integrated with commercially available IoT sensors for public safety applications.

Norman Speicher
The pilot will be based on a hypothetical scenario: 45 days of sporadic torrential rainfall have already saturated the ground and inundated St. Louis's drainage systems, and a thunderstorm is expected to bring strong winds and several more inches of rain to the city. The potential scenarios that would result will test the IoT solutions in five ways: monitoring a river for potential floods, detecting flash flooding in city streets, detecting vulnerable individuals who need rescue or support, monitoring conditions within a building fire resulting from a flooded mechanical room, and identifying a vehicle accident caused by hydroplaning in standing water.

Flood sensors will be among the hardware that will be included, says Norman Speicher, DHS S&T's program manager. Responders will wear their own sensors, while cameras will monitor traffic conditions on roadways. The specific sensor deployment has not yet been determined, but it will typically utilize wireless sensors, transmitting data via cellular networks, that will use vendor software. The resulting data will then be fed to situational-awareness software platforms, in which alerts can be displayed to notify command of rising water levels.

Technology participants include Botts Innovative Research (which will manage sensor data), software companies Compusult and Coolfire, 3D city modeling company Cyient Ltd., EcoDomus (which offers virtual indoor environment-tracking solutions), Keys (which provides physiological sensing using an Apple Watch), Skymantics (which offers optimized traffic-routing solutions) and the University of Calgary (which supplies AI-based traffic IoT sensors).

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