Latest Innovative Lifesaving Firefighting Technology
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Latest Innovative Lifesaving Firefighting Technology

FREMONT, CA | Wednesday, April 28, 2021

POINTER (Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for Emergency Responders) will allow departments to locate their firefighters to centimeter accuracy, allowing them to maneuver quickly and safely out of potentially disorienting emergencies.

FREMONT, CA

First responders put their life on the line every day to ensure the safety of their neighborhoods, from putting out small kitchen fires to rescuing people from burning homes and protecting local infrastructure. Despite all of the advancements in firefighting technology, the state continues to lose far too many firefighters each year. Following the deaths of hundreds of firefighters due to unfamiliarity with the layout of the building and unable to locate any exits during fires, the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) developed innovative new tracking and location technology. POINTER (Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for Emergency Responders) will soon allow departments to locate their firefighters to centimeter accuracy, allowing them to maneuver quickly and safely out of potentially disorienting emergencies.

Since 2014, S&T has worked with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and first responder stakeholders to create POINTER, a wearable, and compact, cost-effective tracking and location device that uses cutting-edge science to succeed where other products have failed. For example, in line-of-sight denied environments, technologies that use GPS, acoustic sensors, radiolocation, radio-frequency tracking, ultra-wideband radar, or other methods often lose signal or experience position drift. Many people are unable to enter those construction materials or even reach the ground level. All of this and more is possible with POINTER, making it more precise and dependable.

The POINTER system is divided into three sections:

Transmitter: This technology-centered outside at incident command creates the Magnetoquasistatic (MQS) fields MQS fields that geolocate the responders. From up to 70 meters away, complex sensors and algorithms solve location and orientation, allowing responders to be tracked to the exact floor they are on.

Receiver: Firefighters wear a headset that is wirelessly connected to the transmitter when they approach a burning house. The device is the size of a smartphone but will eventually be much smaller. MQS fields send data back to the command by pinging the receivers on each responder.

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