Fire Safety in High Rise Building

Chicago is full of the sky scraper and fire safety is one of the biggest issue in high rise building.  Fire poses a particularly serious threat in high-rise buildings.  First, it is difficult for fire fighters to reach the upper floors; for example, the highest fire truck ladder in Chicago only extends to the eight floors.  To extinguish blazes above that point, fire fighters must sometimes climb dozens of flights of stairs, dragging fire hoses and other heavy equipment with them.

Second, large buildings populations are difficult to rapidly and safely evacuate.  Since elevators do not offer a safe means of exit during a fire, thousands of people may be forced to descend crowded stairs. But the dangers are intensified in the noise, smoke darkness, and confusion of a high-rise fire, particularly for those attempting to escape from an upper floor.

 My idea behind this study is to create a building model based on cityGml and GIS  which can be helpful to emergency crew in emergency. Technologies such as GIS and CityGML can be used for analyzing and visualization of spatial data and 3d city model which is helpful in planning, simulation and training.

Data is available in different from following sources and it poses challenges for extracting useful information

  • Different sources of Data: city database. owner, architectural firms, emergency communication services
  • Different types of Data: Tabular data, spatial data, 3D models, shape files, floor plans etc.or Google Floor Plan Project
  • Different Format of Data: point, Date, co-ordinates etc
  • Various non-consistent schemas of Data, Eg, Some data is available in GityGML and other in GIS.

In order to maintain high integrity among various data sources we have to model our data based upon standards.  After that we can import our data into a common data store.  In case of building data, it can be model according to IFC standard or CityGML  standard for 3D building model and 2D data can be model in GIS format.

After we model data we use Data Mining techniques to extract useful information from our data. We can use different AI techniques to find different uses of our data.

UML diagram-Building Model

Scenario -1

  • If a Fire is detected on multiple floors of a high rise building then AI can help fire fighters to create smart evacuation plans on the fly using digitized floor plans and building sensors.

Scenario- 2

Planning of rescue operation

  • Eg, which window on 5th floor is accessible by fire ladder or where are building with large roof for helicopter landing.

Well, The newly unveiled concept project of Google, Google Glass, would be an ideal technologies useful for fire fighters.

Google Glasses Preview

a. Benefits of using Google Glass would be that fire fighters in case of emergency don’t want to look at another screen which is their phone, tablet or anything else.  Having a head mounted display would help them to focus on their jobs rather than on technology.  Moreover, this technology would also free their hands from using a device and they could help people.

b. Google Glasses technology  uses natural language processing which enables people to talk to a technology in human language rather than machine language.  Hence this kind of technology would be much friendlier to use, easier adoption rate, etc.

Tablet and Augmented reality Apps

a. Tablets with newer form factors and newer technologies could come very handy for fire fighters working in the field.  Having all the data they need on their tablet could help them make decisions quick which help save lives.

Vision of a building model using augmented reality

In conclusion, with use of urban information modeling and augmented reality we can not only reduce response time from fire station to disaster site, but also provide effective and safe escape from building and rescue operation.

With the use of CityGML and augmented reality, simulation of event can be useful to train new personnel such as fire fighters, police men, etc

Fire Simulation for Training

Forget GPS, now it’s time for IPS( Indoor Positioning System)


I recently found this interesting article on IPS( indoor positioning system) on net, I thought of sharing with you all.  We all know about GPS( global positioning system) which navigates us in outdoor spaces.  GPS has made our everyday commute easy by providing us shortest path to reach any place since many years.

Now think about IPS( indoor positioning system which can navigate us in  large indoor spaces such as airport, malls etc.  Last year, Google map for Android began introducing floor plans of malls, airport and other large commercial areas.  Even Nokia is one step ahead of it and they are using actual 3d models to navigate inside the buildings. Last week, Broadcom released a new chip that supports IPS, which will soon be out in market with smartphones.

Now days mostly every buildings are equipped with Wifi, so Google approach tracks you via WiFi- it knows where the Wifi hotspot are in the given building and through signal  strength triangulation it can roughly work out where you are.  Nokia works with Bluetooth when comes to IPS.

The Broadcom chip supports IPS through Wifi, Bluetooth and Even NFC.  Furthermore this chip also ties in with other sensors, such as a phone’s gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer and altimeter. It takes note of your entry point (via GPS), and then count your steps (accelerometer), direction (gyroscope), and Altitude (altimeter). The ultimate result will be hassle free indoor navigation with in the building.

There are many applications of IPS which can be useful in daily routine like linking your real life analytics to other streams of data, such as social graphs and payment systems.   For example, IPS could be used to create beautiful heatmaps of where you spend money; you could even play it back in real time and watch your avatar as it bounces around a Google Map, first to Starbucks, then to the train ticket machine, then to the office vending machine, and so on.

If IPS technologies can be similarly used in case of any emergency then it could be more useful for policemen, firefighters and emergency service crew.

Google Glass

Google Glass ( click here for video)

I have been searching about augmented reality and I have found this video which really fascinated me like, what future would be with all such types of gadgets?  The idea of looking and finding everything on your head glasses, if really comes to reality it would be boon in cases of emergency.

The technical definition for augmented reality is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

In case of fire in high rise buildings, if fire fighters are provided with such technology with which they can see different layers of information about buildings( like X-ray) in front of them on their classes they will have better ability to rescue occupant inside the building and reduce fire damages.

GIS for Fire Safety

I started looking at different aspects of GIS (Geographic information system) and usability of it  in disaster management especially man mad disaster such as fire in high rise building. GIS can help us visualize, understand, question and interpret data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. GIS is helpful to many people who are associated with urban planning, police department, fire department, government agencies, and many more. Using GIS, officials can pinpoint hazards and begin to evaluate the consequences of potential emergencies or disasters.

Chicago is full of the skyscrapers and fire safety is one of the biggest issues for the high rise buildings.  Under the City of Chicago Municipal Code high-rise buildings constructed after 1975 enjoy a high level of protection, since they must either be compartmented or sprinklered. But unfortunately, the Municipal Code does not require high-rise buildings constructed before 1975 to be sprinklered or compartmented, and therefore, a fire in one of these buildings is far more likely to result in casualties and property damage than one in a sprinklered building. The Commission has discovered that the rate of fire deaths in Chicago’s high-rise buildings is approximately 3.5 times greater than the national average.

Time is critical factor when emergency like fire occurs. To rescue occupant in timely manner is most important task for fire services. The time segment between fire ignition and the start of fire suppression has a direct relationship to fire loss.  The delivery of emergency medical serviced is also time critical. In most cases sooner trained fire personnel or emergency medical rescue personnel arrive, the greater the chance for survival and conservation of property.

GIS can quickly analyze and display a route from path a station or GPS location to the emergency call.  This route may be shortest path or the quickest path depending on the time of the day and traffic pattern. This information can be displayed to the dispatcher and on s mobile computer screen in the response vehicle.  Response time from fire station to the location and rescue operation within the building is critical to save life of occupant and reduce damage to the buildings.

In conclusion,  technology such as GIS can be really helpful in emergencies.