Emergencies occur every day, rapidly and without warning. If they’re not dealt with promptly and properly, they can quickly become tragedies. Governments around the world have invested millions of dollars on programs designed to improve emergency protocols through every situation imaginable–and we mean EVERY. Situation. Imaginable.
In the past 10 years, with mobile computing and network technologies developing further every day, Information and communication technology (ICT) systems have been able to improve the effectiveness of rescue operations significantly. However, augmented reality technology being developed at the University of Bologna at Cesena in Italy could provide even further innovation of dealing with emergency situations.
This new proposed ICT system is called SAFE (Smart Augmented Field for Emergency), and it’s aim is to support the work of emergency response and rescue teams. It will provide real-life heroes with wearable computing and augmented reality technologies, as well as multi-user communication systems. SAFE can virtually connect rescuers and first responders on the field with other responders and with control rooms of other emergency response experts.
Each member of a rescue team could perform their duties with hands-free AR technology. This would allow things like maps, emergency protocol, and alerts to be overlaid virtually on a visual display. Communication during disasters is presently difficult, since radio communication requires the use of one’s hands, and is often difficult to interpret due to noisy environments. AR technology would keep rescuers safe by ensuring they get the vital pieces of information they need in real time. While this technology is still potentially a thing of the future, we at ARinMed believe in proposing ideas and innovations, even if they seem a bit bold. Technology only advances as far as the imaginations of people can take it!
SAFE would be able to guide rescuers through the triage protocol, since not every emergency responder is a doctor, an EMT or a nurse–in fact, many are just ordinary volunteers. It could be designed to assign a severity code to injured persons, alerting other rescuers where the most injured people are and allowing them to respond faster. It would also be able to discern a location stamp for every message so that responders can quickly locate each other if the need arises. These features would all culminate into a technology that allows a streamlined, coordinated response to disasters and emergencies.
SAFE is right now in the early-development phase. Preliminary testing has already been done, and researchers are working on developments of the UI, including improving light variation, integrating voice recognition, facial recognition and other data. Future developments will be aimed at making SAFE more user-friendly, and going beyond simple prototypes used in simulated environments. The next steps will be to improve the usability and the design of the device, and to talk to rescuers to get their input, to establish better communication for it, and to develop faster means of establishing a network on-site. It seems to us that SAFE is heading in the right direction, and we believe it sounds as a great initiative to establish in emergency departments around the world. We can’t wait to see this technology begin to help rescuers save lives! Tell us what you think of it in the comments section!