Skip to main content

First responder Advanced technologies for Safe and efficienT Emergency Response

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FASTER (First responder Advanced technologies for Safe and efficienT Emergency Response)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-10-31

The European Environment Agency reports that Europe is experiencing an increasing number of disasters, derived either from natural phenomena, technological accidents or human actions. First responders (FRs) are the people who are among the first to arrive and provide assistance at the disaster scene. They are often operating in risky and hazardous conditions disaster sites, like demolished, burnt or flooded districts, being exposed to non-visible threats such as very high temperatures and dangerous gases. Furthermore, FRs may experience incidents during operations, which can prevent them from completing their mission, putting their own health at risk. FRs' capabilities can be limited by chaotic environments. Overwhelming amounts of information may reduce their situational awareness. Multiple displays and gadgets are adding clutter to their equipment. Autonomous vehicles are useful in disaster scenes, but they lack in operational autonomy. Communication between first responders and the C2 is often obstructed. Cooperation amongst FRs and community members is often ad-hoc and lacks coordination. Often the problem lies in the logistics to efficiently direct and deliver assistance where and when it is most needed.

FASTER aims to address the challenges associated with the protection of first responders in hazardous environments, while at the same time enhancing their capabilities in terms of situational awareness and communication. FASTER will provide innovative, accepted and efficient tools covering 1) Data collection, providing a secure IoT platform for distributed, real-time gathering and processing of heterogeneous physiological and critical environmental data from smart textiles, wearables, sensors and Social Media, 2) Operational capabilities, providing flexible, multi-functional autonomous vehicles, including swarms of them, for extended inspection capabilities and physical mitigation, 3) Risk assessment, providing tools for individual health assessment and disaster scene analysis for early warning and risk mitigation, 4) Improved ergonomics providing augmented reality tools for enhanced information streaming, as well as body and gesture-based interfaces for vehicle navigation and communication, 5) Resilient communication, at the field level providing haptic communication capabilities, emergency communication devices, communication with K9s; and at the infrastructure level through 5G technologies and UAVs, 6) Tactical situational awareness, providing innovative visualisation services for a portable Common Operational Picture for both indoor and outdoor scenarios representation. 7) Efficient Cooperation and Interoperability amongst first responders, LEA, community members and other resource providers to request and deliver assistance where and when it is most needed using blockchain technology to give everyone involved the ability to write and read data (including sensor data) on an open source platform to speed up disaster relief to a whole new level.
WP1 - A reference manual concerning the quality plan and a data management plan were developed. The project was represented in EC and clustering activities within the DRS community. Moreover, a monitoring process of the societal acceptance of the project has been produced.
WP2 - An analysis of the relevant regulatory frameworks was performed by VUB and then the appropriate SELP compliance framework. An in-depth analysis of the legal and ethical risks that the project poses was performed.
WP3 - 3 main Use Cases (Spain, Italy, Finland) and one additional (Greece) have been defined. A set of User Requirements, and Specifications have been defined. The first version of the FASTER architecture has been also designed.
WP4 - A Secure IoT & Communication Gateway has been developed, including the related middleware. A first version of the Smart Textiles Framework and the smart K9 collar have been developed. A first version of the Social Media Analysis (SMA) module was implemented.
WP5 - UGV platforms were developed and all the sensors were integrated within the developed UGVs. A UAV platform was created including diverse drones forming a swarm. A mapping tool was developed to take high resolution photos and produce an orthomosaic map.
WP6 - A 5G network emulator was implemented by using OpenAirInterface. In addition, a first version of the QoS Monitoring Framework was developed. UAV relay network capabilities were implemented and tested. A first version of the infrastructureless communication tool (ResCuE) was tested. Finally, a first part of the AIngle functionality was developed.
WP7 - Gesture-based control was implemented in real UAVs. Extended vision focused on displaying UAVs’ video feed in HoloLens. 5 arm gestures have been implemented for voiceless communication (MoRSE). An initial version of an AI scene analysis algorithm was developed. An AR prototype was designed for the HoloLens 2 presenting maps to display team member positions, heads-up notifications, and geo localized holograms.
WP8 - The FASTER Information Model was developed along with the specific FASTER Ontology. Information processing services to enhance situational awareness were defined. A COP dashboard with multiple functionalities related to the situational awareness and localization of involved subjects was designed and developed. The AR application was implemented and tested. Pre-alpha versions of a chatbot and a smartwatch application connected with the mission management backend were completed.
WP9 - All tools were integrated within the FASTER infrastructure.
WP10 - Detailed pilot scenarios and planning were created. A small-scale pilot took place in Greece, acting as a mitigation action against difficulties in participating in international pilots due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
WP11 - Participation in dissemination events and publications in international conferences. A project website as well as social media accounts were set up. The FASTER stakeholder group engaged 70 stakeholders. The Advisory Board was activated.
FASTER will develop a set of tools towards enhancing the operational capacity of first responders while increasing their safety in the field. It will introduce Augmented Reality technologies for improved situational awareness and early risk identification, and Mobile and Wearable technologies for better mission management and information delivery to first responders. Body and Gesture based User Interfaces will be employed to enable new capabilities while reducing equipment clutter, offering unprecedented ergonomics. Moreover, FASTER will provide a platform of Autonomous Vehicles, namely drones and robots, aiming to collect valuable information from the disaster scene prior to operations, extend situational awareness and offer physical response capabilities to first responders. FASTER will gather multi-modal data from the field, utilizing an IoT network, and Social Media content to extract, either locally or in the cloud, meaningful information and to provide an enhanced Common Operational Picture to the responder teams in a decentralised way using Portable Control Centres. It will additionally use blockchain technology to keep track of needs and capabilities using smart contracts for maximum efficiency. The whole system will be facilitated by tools for Resilient Communications Support featuring opportunistic relay services, emergency communication devices and 5G-enabled communication capabilities.
FASTER Group photo