WPI to Host International Workshop Focused on Technology Solutions for First Responders

First public demonstration of Department of Homeland Security’s GLANSER first responder location system to take place; session on military and training systems


Precision indoor location technology is designed to help firefighters, police officers, and EMTs quickly locate and rescue colleagues who become lost, disabled, or trapped inside buildings. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), becoming lost or trapped inside buildings was the second leading cause of firefighter fatalities in 2011. The inability to precisely locate and track first responders inside the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, contributed to difficulties in managing the response to that disaster, as it did during a 1999 warehouse fire in Worcester when six firefighters died after becoming lost in the building while trying to locate civilians or other firefighters.

Separately, a session on military and training systems on Aug. 6 at 10:30 a.m. is expected to draw significant attention. Topics to be covered include a next-generation personal navigator, an update on a dismounted soldier navigation device, and other tracking and positioning systems. On Aug. 7 starting at 10:20 a.m. there will be working groups and a panel defining the current state of the art for location and tracking systems and to identify new technology directions for first responders.

Follow the workshop via Twitter @WPINews and use hashtag #WPIPPL2012 to join the conversation.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 25 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

About WPI’s First Responder SafetyResearch Program

Motivated by the deaths of six Worcester, Mass., firefighters in a December 1999 warehouse blaze, researchers in electrical and computer engineering and fire protection engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have been working on innovative technology designed to safeguard first responders. WPI’s work has been supported by more than $5 million in funding from the Departments of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other federal agencies. WPI researchers continue to develop various location and tracking systems and other technology tools for first responders.