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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

During Birmingham's search-and-rescue efforts, unmanned aircraft systems were used to identify victims trapped underneath rubble. For the scenario's "unified command element," software platforms and tools were designed to identify and display where first-responders were located on the field.

In planning for the St. Louis pilot, the city and agencies have been working with technology companies to put in place the system that will be tested during the pilot. "Smart cities" is still a buzz term, Speicher says, and while technology companies are offering a variety of solutions, an open standards-based solution that can scale can be difficult to deploy. "Part of our effort," he states, "is to expose [cities] to what is possible, what technology exists and what integration is possible."

The pilot will also involve the creation of a 3D digital twin of the city, Gaskill-Clemons says, which will enable the viewing of a response's results digitally before crews even arrive on the scene. The digital twin can also be used to manage the IoT devices, he adds, thereby enabling users to configure sensors, adjust the pan-tilt zoom on cameras, or change the recording intervals on a weather sensor.

The DHS funds the pilot, while the Open Geospatial Consortium has identified providers, each of which brings different technologies. During the first week of December, there will be a dry run of the exercise, and participants will get their hands on the tools so that in December, responders and managers will be familiar with them. "We will be looking at whether the technology is mature and relevant," Speicher says, "and we will be documenting the architecture in ways other cities can reuse it."

The point of the initiative, according to Gaskill-Clemons, is to improve the life of city residents, as well as better manage resources and be more effective in incident response. But the city's focus is on holistic solutions rather than on single, siloed systems such as smart lighting. "We take the underlying capability approach," he states, in order to ensure that an integrated system can help support smart-city technologies across all departments and services.

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