Firefighting

NIST tests communications prototype

Issue 11 and Volume 161.

In August, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) demonstrated a prototype of a “breadcrumb communication system.” The technology was developed to maintain two-way communications with first responders as they move about in building fires, mine and tunnel collapses, and other enclosed environments where radio dead spots and severely weakened signals can impede communications. The demonstration was in conjunction with the 2008 Workshop on Precision Indoor Personnel Location and Tracking for Emergency Responders at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. The automated system can be deployed on the fly and features “smart” multihop relays (referred to as “breadcrumbs”) that advise first responders when to place the next device to extend the communications range, explains NIST. The system was assembled from off-the-shelf microprocessors and other standard hardware. The relays incorporated NIST-developed software that monitors the status of radio communication signals. The software implements an “adaptive strategy” for maintaining connectivity. NIST evaluated…

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