Worcester Polytechnic Institute to host national forum on locating first responders inside buildings

July 26, 2007

WORCESTER, Mass. - 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, on Aug. 6 and 7, 2007, in the Campus Center at WPI.

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.

Keynote speakers will include Charles Dickinson, deputy assistant administrator, U.S. Fire Administration, Jalal Mapar, program manager, Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Joe Heaps, program manager, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. Additional presenters will include representatives from more than 20 companies and research groups, including WPI, Carnegie Melon, Honeywell Inc., Draper Laboratories, Foster-Miller Inc., Microsoft, MITRE Corporation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the U.S. Navy.

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 precision personnel location and tracking 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.
For more, visit http://www.ece.wpi.edu/Research/PPL/.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. WPI's 18 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to the BA, BS, MS, ME, MBA and PhD. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, and information security, materials processing, and nanotechnology. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 20 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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