WPI wins $1M to develop system to locate and monitor emergency workers in buildings

WORCESTER, Mass. August 6, 2007 Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has received nearly $1 million from the federal Department of Homeland Security to develop a system that can precisely locate and track the movement of emergency workers inside buildings and also monitor their health and physiological status.

The announcement of the award came just a few days before WPI hosted its second annual workshop on Precision Indoor Personnel Location and Tracking for Emergency Responders. The two-day workshop, held on Aug. 6-7, 2007, is the only national forum for researchers, corporate R&D leaders, national policy makers, and public safety departments on this critical technical challenge.

The DHS award will permit WPI to enhance a precision location system it has been developing over the past four years by integrating it with technology developed by Foster-Miller, Inc., in Waltham, Mass., for continuous monitoring of temperature, heart rate, respiration rate and other physiological parameters. The enhanced system will address two of what a 2005 report from the National Fire Protection Association identified as the three leading causes of firefighter deaths: stress-related heart attacks (No. 1) and getting lost, trapped, or disabled inside buildings (No. 3). The DHS funds will augment the more than $3 million in funding the research team has already garnered from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The focus of this week's workshop was the nations 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. There is currently is no technology able to track and locate people inside buildings with the precision needed to rescue first responders in the harsh environment (low- or zero visibility, extreme heat, deafening noise) of an active building fire, to locate and retrieve

Contact: Michael Dorsey
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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