2007-2008

WPI to Host National Forum on Locating First Responders Inside Buildings

WPI will hold its second annual workshop on Precision Indoor Personnel Location and Tracking for Emergency Responders, the only national forum for researchers, corporate R&D leaders, national policy makers, and public safety departments on this critical technological challenge, on Aug. 6 and 7, 2007, in the Campus Center.

A diagram of the precision location and tracking technology under development at WPI as it would be deployed in the field.

What:

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will hold its second annual workshop on Precision Indoor Personnel Location and Tracking for Emergency Responders, the only national forum for researchers, corporate R&D leaders, national policy makers, and public safety departments on this critical challenge.

Why:

A 2005 report from the National Fire Protection Association noted that getting lost, trapped, or disabled inside buildings is the third leading cause of firefighter fatalities. There is also a critical need for indoor location and tracking technology by public safety departments, the military, the mining industry, and other fields where people can become lost or trapped indoors in dangerous or life-threatening situations.

Academic, corporate, and government researchers are pursuing the development of those technologies, and WPI’s workshop will feature presentations on—and demonstrations of—a number of leading technologies for indoors tracking and location, including WPI's (see below). The workshop will also provide an assessment of the state of the field and the prognosis for viable commercial solutions.

Who:

  • Charles Dickinson, deputy assistant administrator, U.S. Fire Administration
  • Jalal Mapar, program manager, Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Joe Heaps, program manager, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice

Note: Additional presenters include representatives from more than 20 companies and research groups, including WPI, Carnegie Mellon, Honeywell Inc., Draper Laboratories, Foster-Miller Inc., Microsoft, MITRE Corporation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the U.S. Navy.

When:

 August 6 and 7, 2007

Where:

WPI Campus Center, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, Mass.

Media planning to attend the workshop: contact Michael Dorsey for credentials.

About WPI's Precision Personnel Location Technology

Motivated by a 1999 fire in the Worcester (Mass.) Cold Storage Warehouse, in which six firefighters died within feet of exits they could not locate, and supported by more than $3 million in awards from the U.S. Department of Justice, a WPI research team has been developing technology that employs principles from orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), which transmits high-speed data via wired and wireless channels and integrates well into the radio spectrum, and super-resolution techniques as used in synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which can extract great detail from radar signals. The system will employ transmitters worn by first responders and receivers located on emergency vehicles. The goal is an affordable system that requires no setup at the fire scene and that can precisely track up to 100 first responders in three dimensions, displaying their positions and paths on a screen at the incident command center. The technology will be demonstrated during the Aug. 6-7 workshop.

July 26, 2007

Contact: Lorraine U. Martinelle, Public Relations Specialist, +1-508-831-6425, lurbans@wpi.edu Eileen Brangan Mell, Director of Public Relations, +1-508-831-6785, ebmell@wpi.edu