• New Fire-Simulating Tool Could Improve In-Flight Fire Safety

    Some of the most dangerous fires are the ones you don’t see coming. That goes not only for fires in buildings but for those kilometers off the ground, aboard commercial airliners. Many aircraft have systems to detect fires early on, but fires that spark in their attics, or overhead compartments — spaces with curved ceilings, filled with air ducts, electrical wiring and structural elements — could potentially sneak past them.

  • PlanetSense: Stepping in When Disaster Strikes

    As Hurricane Dorian raged through the Bahamas, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory worked around the clock to aid recovery efforts for one of the Caribbean’s worst storms ever. The researchers helped direct that relief, churning out geographic data that guided decisions on everything from where to open emergency shelters to how to staff first-aid centers.

  • Four Ways the Biden Administration Can Revamp Disaster Management

    In the United States, 2020 had more billion-dollar disasters than any other year in recorded history, even without accounting for the COVID-19pandemic. This is part of a growing trend of more powerful disasters, such as forest fires or hurricanes, across more susceptible areas. This vulnerability is becoming understood to include a combination of the built environment, governance, and underlying social vulnerability. Among federal agencies in the United States, disasters are managed by as many as 90 different programs across 20 agencies. These programs are an uneven patchwork, leaving significant gaps in some areas, and overlapping responsibilities and authorities in others.

  • Bold Action Can End Era of Pandemic Threats By 2030

    The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense has called on the federal government to urgently implement the recommendations specified in its new report, The Apollo Program for Biodefense: Winning the Race Against Biological Threats. The report details an ambitious program to develop and deploy the technologies needed to defend against all biological threats, empower public health, and prevent pandemics.

  • Pandemic Shows Need for Biological Readiness

    President Joe Biden’s inauguration comes during the worst stage of the deadliest biological event of our lifetimes. As bad as this pandemic is, imagine if instead it were caused by the deliberate release of a sophisticated biological weapon. About 2 percent of those infected have died of COVID-19, while a disease such as smallpox kills at a 30 percent rate. A bioengineered pathogen could be even more lethal. Our failed response to the pandemic in 2020 has exposed a gaping vulnerability to biological threats, ranging from natural outbreaks to deliberate biological weapons attacks.

  • Rescuers at Risk: Emergency Personnel Face Trauma, PTSS

    A new study has for the first time, demonstrated differences in the prevalence of post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in different groups of rescue workers and emergency personnel, including firefighters, police officers and psychiatric nurses.

  • Developing First Responder Emergency Alerts Technology

    As emergency communications technologies adapt to an increasingly interconnected nation, DHS S&T announced it awarded more than $1.5 million to develop an Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications (AWN) Guidance Tool.

  • Groundbreaking Firefighter Tracking Technology

    In the U.S. alone, approximately 80 to 100 firefighters are lost in the line of duty each year according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. More than 50,000 are injured according to the National Fire Protection Association.  Countless others risk their lives every day to serve and protect our communities. Last month, S&T and NASA JPL successfully tested the Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Training for Emergency Responders (POINTER) technology.

  • Making Our Infrastructure Safer

    Saurabh Amin, a systems engineer at MIT, focuses on making transportation, electricity, and water infrastructure more resilient against disruptions. “There are a lot of commonalities among these networks — they are built and operated by human actors, but their functionality is governed by physical laws. So, that is what drives me forward,” Amin says.

  • Cloud-Based Framework Improves Efficiency in Disaster-Area Management

    Researchers have, for the first time, designed a cloud-based autonomous system framework utilizing the standard messaging protocol for the internet-of-things (IoT). This framework is robust to network-denied environments by utilizing each vehicle, along with a clustering algorithm, to maximize the network coverage area. Also for the first time, researchers have implemented a cloud-based, highly efficient control system to aid first responders in disaster-area management.

  • Creating 3-D Maps of Complex Buildings for Disaster Management

    In case of an emergency, first responders like the fire brigade need up-to-date information. 2D maps are a common source of information but they can be difficult to read in an emergency situation. A researcher has created an algorithm that can accurately generate 3D models of the insides of large buildings from point clouds.

  • Simple Actions May Help People Survive Landslides

    An engineer who analyzed the aftermath of the March 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington, began to investigate the circumstances that can make landslides so deadly. The resulting study shows that certain human actions increase the chance of surviving a devastating event, and suggests simple behavioral changes could save more lives than expensive engineering solutions.

  • This Emergency Response Tech May Just Save Your Life in a Shooting

    Gabriel is an emergency-response system that can be installed in schools, places of worship, workplaces and elsewhere to help save lives in cases of shootings and other attacks. New Gabriel device detects gunshots, points first responders to the scene and mitigates crises in schools and places of worship.

  • The Future of Security-Forces Communication

    Setting out to tackle real-world challenges in the fight against terrorism and crime, researchers and police officers have developed a new, future-ready technology for sharing information and coordinating in the field. The solution has since been adopted throughout Germany on the merits of its great practical benefit and acceptance on the part of users.

  • Rapid Rescue of Buried People

    When someone is buried by an avalanche, earthquake or other disaster, a rapid rescue can make the difference between life and death. Researchers have developed a new kind of mobile radar device that can search hectare-sized areas quickly and thoroughly.