Worcester, Mass. ? Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a leader in the development of technology for safeguarding the lives and health of first responders, will host the sixth annual International Workshop on Precision Indoor Personnel Location and Tracking Technology Aug. 1-2, 2011.
Precision indoor location technology is designed to help firefighters, police officers, and EMTs quickly locate and rescue colleagues who become lost, disabled, or trapped inside buildings. A 2008 report by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) identified becoming lost or disoriented inside buildings as one of the leading causes of firefighter fatalities. The inability to precisely locate and track first responders inside the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 contributed to difficulties in managing the response to that disaster, and the loss of six firefighters in a 1999 warehouse fire in Worcester occurred when two firefighters became lost in the building and four others attempted, unsuccessfully, to find them.
The workshop is the only comprehensive forum in the field and will bring together approximately 150 leading researchers from industry, academia, and government, members of the first responder community, and representatives of federal, state, and local governments to discuss progress made in indoor location technology over the past decade, to explore challenges and priorities for the future, and to see how actual location systems perform in realistic search and rescue simulations.
Sponsored by the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the workshop will feature keynote addresses by Preston Carter, director of game changing technology in NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist, and Ayman Naguib, global technical lead for indoor positioning at Qualcomm. Carter and Naguib will also participate in a panel on the future of commercial location services for first responders moderated by Jalal Mapar, program manager for the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, and featuring representatives from Google, Astrium, and Verizon.
A highlight of the workshop will occur on the morning of Aug. 2, when location and tracking systems being developed by Trimble Navigation, a leader in Global Positioning System technology, and MSA, a leading manufacturer of safety products, will be tested in a rigorous real-world simulation designed and executed by firefighters from the Worcester Fire Department. The systems will be used by firefighters to locate a "lost" firefighter in a WPI academic building in a realistic search and rescue scenario.
Also included will be a status report on GLANSER (Geospatial Location Accountability and Navigation System for Emergency Responders), a project funded by DHS and managed by Honeywell, Argon ST, and TRX Systems; briefings and demonstrations by more than 30 companies and government and academic research labs (including WPI's) that are developing location technology for first responders; and a review of the history and status of work on developing commercially viable location systems by John Sullivan, deputy chief of the Worcester Fire Department, and Ric Plummer, a fire engineer and consultant.
Additional details about the workshop may be found at www.ece.wpi.edu/Research/PPL/. Media interested in attending the workshop should contact Eileen Brangan Mell (firstname.lastname@example.org, 508-831-6785) or Martin Luttrell (email@example.com, 508-831-4910).
About Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. Its13 academic departments and School of Business offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor's, master's, and PhD degrees. 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, 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 25 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.