Summit explores new technologies, AI and the transition to data-driven models

Paradigm shifts don’t happen often, much less at this fast a pace. However, in the year between the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) 1st Technology Summit International held in October 2022 and the subsequent event in December 2023, innovative technologies have penetrated the public consciousness. and is already transforming the way we live and work.

Chat GPT (GPT is a good acronym for “Generative Pretrained Transformer”), OpenAI‘s artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot gained 1 million users within 5 days of its release in November 2022. At ChatGPT’s first anniversary, the number of users exceeded his 1.7 billion, making it the fastest growing consumer application in history. ChatGPT began as a model for learning how people use and interact with generative AI, but quickly evolved into a deep learning model that can generate audio and images based on trained data. Now we can not only recognize, but also generate new data. Content based on what you have learned.

Although ChatGPT is only the most visible recent development, AI has been around since the early 1950s, when researchers began trying to teach computers to mimic human problem-solving skills. In 1996, the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue defeated world champion Garli Kasparov in the first game of a highly publicized chess tournament, marking the first public demonstration of computer decision-making capabilities.

Preet Bassi, CEO of Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE), moderated the session on AI. tech summitdescribed AI in its simplest form: “Artificial intelligence is a field that combines computer science and robust data sets to enable problem solving. More simply, AI is a tool that automates generation or prediction. There are two approaches to AI systems: One is a human approach, where we think and act like humans, and the other is an ideal approach, where we actually think and act rationally.”

Given the uproar surrounding ChatGPT, AI was a major theme at this year’s Tech Summit, which brought together an impressive roster of technologically advanced leaders in the fire service. Here are just a few of the ways these leaders acknowledged the use of AI in firefighting, the increased focus on better tracking data and analytics, and how other new technologies are changing the industry .

fire risk assessment

One area where AI is already impacting firefighting operations is risk assessment. AI can analyze data from a variety of sources to identify areas at high risk of fire and inform mitigation strategies.

Data obtained from public and private sources includes building and occupancy permits, hazardous materials storage locations, real estate records showing the building’s age, floor plan and design, building materials, proximity to water sources, and inspection reports. ranging from geographic and historical climate data. AI analyzes data and uses fire surveillance drones, camera systems, lightning detector Conducting fire safety public relations campaigns in areas prone to wildfires.

advance planning

Fire department leaders talked about how powerful data science and analytics can help with proactive planning to ensure fire and rescue personnel have critical information when a major incident occurs. From building plans and gate codes to mapping electrical distribution boxes, hazardous materials, fire hydrant locations, and alternate routes, data-driven advance planning helps departments prepare for potential emergencies and ensure they’re alert when called. This allows the crew to act without delay when the situation arises.

accident management

Despite all the department’s preparation and advance planning, the nature of a fire is unpredictable. Particularly in large-scale incidents such as wildfires or floods, multiple agencies may be called upon to respond. Obtaining a common operating situation (COP) for an incident is critical to carrying out an efficient and effective response.

COP uses a variety of data sources to inform tactics and decisions.

  • An incident report that provides important initial information about the size and scope of an incident.
  • Location of available resources.
  • Real-time weather data including wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, and precipitation.
  • Geographic information system (GIS) data that provides details about topographical information such as infrastructure, land use, and population density.
  • Satellite images and aerial photos showing an overview of the incident. Some aviation sources can provide real-time data on smoke composition and air quality.
  • Fire modeling data that can predict inputs based on fire behavior such as ignition source, smoke production, and spread.

firefighter safety

In addition to numerous applications for fire scene situational awareness, advanced technologies are increasingly being incorporated into firefighting equipment. Some of the latest smart SCBAs have integrated sensors that can monitor the breathable air supply and send alerts if the air supply becomes insufficient or if certain toxins or gases are detected. Some PASS devices also have air quality sensors that will send an alert if a firefighter becomes stuck.

A popular demonstration at Tech Summit, the smart helmet uses thermal cameras, toxicology sensors, and edge detection with augmented reality optics to help firefighters see through dark smoke and navigate low-visibility environments. To do.

Community risk reduction

Michigan had one of the highest fire death rates in the nation. Through a thorough analysis of reported fire incident data, State Fire Marshal Kevin Schiermeyer gained insights that led to his statewide CRR plan that moves the needle in the right direction.

In the session “Bridging the Data Gap: Turning Data into Actionable Intelligence,” Sellmeyer said that when the team started looking at fire fatality data to identify trends, He explained that he learned that smoking was the cause and that 25% of deaths were caused by humans. Some were disabled and 10% received home oxygen therapy. Most fires started in the kitchen or living room, and many victims died within 5 to 10 feet of an exit. Most of the deaths did not have working smoke alarms. The key word “working” convinced Sellmeyer that the fire alarm required a 10-year battery.

Sehlmeyer’s work includes developing a web-based mobile app for fire departments to submit fatal fire data and documenting smoke alarm installations, and launching CRR efforts to address knowledge gaps. , used fire mortality data to make a difference. Soon, the app will move to: Esli The platform enables real-time geographic mapping of fatal fire incidents across the state.

“We’ve got some very basic data on deadly fires and we’re seeing trends, so we can make a difference,” Sellmeyer said. “One of the things we’re going to do once we get Esri up and running is to be able to take down all the alarms that we’ve installed in the 17,000 homes we’ve installed. We take the CAD data from everything and automatically determine how many homes we installed alarms in that actually had a positive impact.”

Bart Van Leeuwen, a Dutch firefighter and engineer, also recognizes the value of collecting incident data to help departments identify trends and document successes.

“We collect incident data, but if you want to create a story that the public can understand, creating a narrative out of the incident can actually help you talk about it in community activities,” Van Leeuwen said. He shared in the session “Safely Harnessing the Potential of Artificial Intelligence”. For public safety. ”

Simply put, “We have to tell a better story, and data will guide us to that better story,” Sellmeyer said.

Responsible use of AI

Many of the speakers at the Tech Summit acknowledged that AI remains a scary proposition for many, but whether you ask ChatGPT to explain a concept to a kindergartener or recommend a surfing trip to Costa Rica, Consumer-friendly applications such as That’s something for us to consider, but we, especially those in public safety and other fields where decisions are life-or-death, should never abdicate decision-making or responsibility to AI. After all, every firefighter knows that fires are unpredictable. AI can’t do it Predict While important in itself, the ability to measure risk provides more real-time information on which to base decisions.

“The biggest issue in this room is the ethical and legal implications of using AI in emergency response teams,” Van Leeuwen said. “Who is responsible for the outcome? What if we make a decision based on an AI prompt and two people die? We have to accept the fact that a person died based on an AI decision. not.”

In fact, Van Leeuwen conducted a study that found that AI “can actually undermine decision-making skills that should be improved, including complacency, de-skilling, and avoidance of responsibility.”

Beyond public safety, another big concern with AI is that rather than hacking into databases, bad actors are using their nefarious talents to feed inaccurate information for training AI systems, resulting in false and false information. It’s generating information. This has huge implications for the entire geopolitical world.

Fortunately, one of the major advances in ChatGPT and similar models is the convergence of OpenAI and cloud security. Sai Narain, Director of State and Local Government Technology at Microsoft, explained: “LLM is a large language model trained on large language datasets. GPT is one of the models built by OpenAI. , which allows you to use the same technology that OpenAI built in a way that complies with corporate security rules: data classification, data protection, etc. to prevent information from leaking to the internet. It is not.”

To recognize the growth and potential risks of AI, to warn users about technologies that have the potential to wreak havoc, and to allay fears about technologies that are already providing tremendous benefits in solving global challenges. , President Joe Biden issued a landmark statement on October 30th. presidential order Provide guidance on the responsible use of AI. The executive order “establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, protects consumers and workers, and fosters innovation and competition.” Its purpose is to promote the United States and advance American leadership around the world.

The future of data in firefighting: NERIS

Under the leadership of Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore Merrell, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) is leading a national effort to develop and launch new interoperable fire information and innovative analysis platforms. National Emergency Response Information System (NERIS)which ingests data from multiple sources through application program interfaces (APIs) and allows multiple software applications to communicate with each other.

According to the USFA, NERIS will ultimately transform the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) into a secure cloud-hosted system powered by AI, which USFA says will “empower decision-making to the fire and emergency services community.” “We will empower the fire and emergency services community by providing the empirical basis for To make. This will provide communities with reliable predictive analytics to address all-hazard incidents, urban interface events in wildlands, community risk reduction efforts, the threat of climate change and related resilience and mitigation efforts, and the future. will support increased preparedness and response of pandemic emergency response resources. ”

NERIS ingests data from the best and most trusted services available and provides it in multiple interoperable formats. This will enable fire authorities to gain experiential, data-driven insights that can be used to improve disaster response and strengthen local disaster prevention efforts.

“If you want to extract data from your current system, you have to look for it,” Dr. Moore-Merrell explained. “We are learning with each incident and are able to make good, actionable decisions based on the data we collect from NERIS.”

Understandably, in an industry steeped in tradition like the fire service, there may be some hesitation about relying on AI. But as several of the Tech Summit speakers argued, AI can also improve the way emergency responders prepare for and respond to critical incidents. This does not replace the experience and wisdom of those who are fighting fires and leading the way in innovation, but it will redefine the future of fire protection in the face of unprecedented threats and challenges in both the built and natural environments. It will be.

“I encourage everyone to lean forward,” Moore-Merrell added. “This will help us avoid falling into the current situation.”

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