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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 86
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping
Paper 77

Context Sensitive Emergency-Navigation-System for Buildings

U. Rüppel and K. Stübbe

Institute of Numerical Methods and Informatics in Civil Engineering, Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
U. Rüppel, K. Stübbe, "Context Sensitive Emergency-Navigation-System for Buildings", in B.H.V. Topping, (Editor), "Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering Computing", Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, UK, Paper 77, 2007. doi:10.4203/ccp.86.77
Keywords: indoor positioning, RFID, WLAN, mobile computing, building models, disaster management.

The terror attacks of September 11th, 2001 in New York and March 11th, 2004 in Madrid have brought the imminence of terroristic activities and the necessity of the maximum possible assistance to evidence. For that reason the aim of the research project "Context Sensitive Emergency-Navigation-System" is to develop a solution to support rescuers in finding the shortest way within a public building and provide them with important information in their particular spatial context.

Such a system is very important for public buildings with a high attendance - not only in cases of emergency - but also within the normal operating stage. For example, the fire brigade of Frankfurt Airport has about 4000 alarms per year. Ninety per cent of them are false alarms but in each case concentrated efforts of the fire brigade are necessary. Fire detectors and extinguishing systems have to be checked immediately. Building maps are used by rescuers for navigation and to find the fire protection systems within a building. It takes enormous time and effort to keep these building maps up-to-date and to print and distribute them to the different parts of the building. Due to this reason a system using mobile devices, GPS and an appropriate possibility for indoor-navigation and localisation is required. Building maps with the actual position of the rescuer are displayed on a mobile device.

Satellite navigation systems such as GPS and Galileo allow rotational position sensing within an accuracy of a few metres outdoor. Although signal strength will improve in the next few years, it will only be possible to detect the precise positions on the upper levels of complex buildings. Different technologies such as wireless LAN (WLAN), radio frequency identification (RFID), infrared and ultra-wide-band allow position sensing inside of buildings where satellite navigation systems are out of range. The first results of the research project prove that radio signals send by WLAN access points in combination with RFID are usable for position sensing within buildings.

The approach is, that each rescuer will use a mobile device (PDA or other mobile computer) which will detect GPS signals. Rooms in lower floors will be equipped with WLAN access points. If a mobile device is in the footprint of at least three WLAN access points the position of the rescuer can be identified. This is accurate enough to provide an orientation within a complex building. Information within the spatial context is displayed by use of active RFID-tags. These tags will be placed on fire detectors and other emergency systems. If rescuers are in footprint of such a RFID-tag, relevant information of the type and specification of the emergency system will be shown on the display of the mobile device.

Previous research projects have developed a CAD-building-model including fire prevention elements [1]. This system will be used to administer the relevant information and will be extended to generate building maps for mobile devices. The research project combines indoor navigation with an integrated command and communication system to enable a better overview of rescue missions and to save human life.

Rüppel U., Lange M., Theiss M., "Agent-Based Model-Compound for Cooperative Building Planning", In: Network-Based Cooperative Planning Processes in Civil Engineering, P. 335-356, Springer Publisher, Berlin Heidelberg, 2007, (in German).

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