If Buildings Could Help in an Emergency

If Buildings Could Help in Emergencies

It’s one of the most instrumented buildings in the world hundreds of sensors that are being used to make “smart buildings” smarter, especially in the event of an emergency. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Kasarda: So, as we walk up the stairwell, our sensors are picking up vibrations. So, the amplitude of those vibrations change as we move and approach new sensors. So we get a spatial and temporal picture of what’s happening.

Mary Kasarda is an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. She says the sensor network can be used to monitor any changes in the building’s structure and to adjust settings, like turning off the air conditioning or the lights if no one’s in a room. But there other possibilities as well.

Kasarda: Another use of the living laboratory that is the Goodwin Hall Engineering Building on the Tech campus is as a test bed for improving emergency evacuation. In particular, can this system of vibration sensors indicate where people are located, also tie in temperature at different locations in the building, such that a firefighter or first responder could come up to a building with an iPad, look at that iPad, and see where people are located, see the condition of the building, and therefore, make a better plan on evacuating the building, saving people, and less risking of their lives. That’s future research, but this building is an ideal test setup to study that and develop that kind of system.

Kasarda: Similarly, if you’re actually in the building, rather than a first responder approaching the building, there is potential to use this to control announcements that come out about what floors to avoid, about what ways to evacuate safely. So, this can absolutely be used as a test bed to develop that kind of system.

I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

If Buildings Could Help in an Emergency

Instead of looking for "child finder" stickers, first responders to an emergency might one day be checking their iPads.
Air Date:04/01/2015
Scientist:
Transcript:

If Buildings Could Help in Emergencies

It's one of the most instrumented buildings in the world hundreds of sensors that are being used to make "smart buildings" smarter, especially in the event of an emergency. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Kasarda: So, as we walk up the stairwell, our sensors are picking up vibrations. So, the amplitude of those vibrations change as we move and approach new sensors. So we get a spatial and temporal picture of what's happening.

Mary Kasarda is an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. She says the sensor network can be used to monitor any changes in the building's structure and to adjust settings, like turning off the air conditioning or the lights if no one's in a room. But there other possibilities as well.

Kasarda: Another use of the living laboratory that is the Goodwin Hall Engineering Building on the Tech campus is as a test bed for improving emergency evacuation. In particular, can this system of vibration sensors indicate where people are located, also tie in temperature at different locations in the building, such that a firefighter or first responder could come up to a building with an iPad, look at that iPad, and see where people are located, see the condition of the building, and therefore, make a better plan on evacuating the building, saving people, and less risking of their lives. That's future research, but this building is an ideal test setup to study that and develop that kind of system.

Kasarda: Similarly, if you're actually in the building, rather than a first responder approaching the building, there is potential to use this to control announcements that come out about what floors to avoid, about what ways to evacuate safely. So, this can absolutely be used as a test bed to develop that kind of system.

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.