IoT use case: optimal emergency escape route

Emergencies and disasters can happen without warning at any time, and it is the responsibility of every facility management and business to ensure that a tried and tested evacuation plan is in place that covers various worst case scenarios. Mapping out optimal escape routes on paper is a straightforward undertaking, but does not necessarily guarantee residents and employees the highest level of protection. The safest solution, although much more difficult, is to plot an escape route that accommodates all possible scenarios and – even more importantly – can react dynamically to changes in the environment.

In an emergency situation, things can change and escalate very quickly, and often it is swift and decisive actions that make all the difference. This is where intelligent system design comes in. Over the past few years, the possibilities afforded by the Internet of Things (IoT) have been widely discussed, particularly as a means to increase the efficiency of our work and private lives. Of course, there are many exciting ways to use these technologies, but arguably the highest benefit derives from using them to preserve human life.

Intelligent system design: use case components

An exciting use case development in this field is the marriage of sensors, CCTV camera technology, and an IoT software platform: Imagine a system that can identify a fire, trigger the building’s alarm system, calculate optimal escape routes, and guide evacuees along these routes using LED panels and existing screens – all while responsively modifying evacuation plans based on the spread of the fire, the avoidance of dangerous areas, and real-time crowd management requirements. Welcome to the world of IoT-based evacuation systems! Put simply, we expect this technology to revolutionise the way we deal with emergency situations.

Let me briefly describe the key components of this use case, which we developed recently in Singapore:

  • It utilises CCTV cameras with embedded video analytics and fire detection systems.
  • Information from these cameras is then processed via an IoT software platform, which brings together all available data to calculate the optimal escape route.

One of the most interesting features of this technology is undoubtedly its use of intelligent video analysis to identify high-risk situations in real time. The technology is combined with a video management system, which has forensic search capabilities that allow users to search video footage for specific criteria and people (via facial recognition), or to track the movement of objects or a person.

None of these functions would be possible, however, without a central IoT platform to coordinate the data – hence it can be considered the ‘brains’ of the operation, with the cameras and sensors being the eyes and ears. As it collates all available information, the platform can be used to establish rules for determining specific events or actions. In the case of evacuation systems, this includes determining when and how people need to be diverted to a suitable emergency exit.

Invented for life

It is with great excitement that I share this use case with you. Experience has taught us that, in a connected world, brand experience is of increasing importance. Why? First, because it is the way user and device data are treated that sets companies apart. Second, given that user experience is no longer restricted to the use of a physical product, but is instead determined by less tangible services, a positive brand association can make a real difference. This use case reflects Bosch’s long-standing motto “Invented for life”, as it combines several elements from our portfolio (including sensors, video cameras, and IoT and video analysis software) to produce a novel design for an IoT-based intelligent and dynamic evacuation system.

We are currently evaluating the industrialization options for this use case – do you have any suggestions for additional features or product requirements that you wish to add to the discussion?

 

About the author

Thomas Jakob

Thomas Jakob

Thomas Jakob is responsible for the Asia-Pacific region since 2012. Prior to joining Bosch Software Innovations, Thomas ran his own consulting firm providing strategy advice to high-tech companies after having served as CEO and CFO of T-Systems Asia South. Having worked for Hewlett Packard and Nortel in Europe as well as for Deutsche Telekom in Asia-Pacific in product management, marketing, finance and business development roles before, he has been active in the ICT industry for more than 20 years now. Thomas holds a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Applied Sciences in Dieburg, Germany as well as an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Follow Thomas on Twitter: @ThomasJakob_BSI.