New command centres control emergency scene data

By Melbourne School of Engineering

Sharing data from the multitude of sensors deployed at accident or disaster sites is the aim of a new research collaboration designed to improve the flow of critical information and response of those coordinating emergency services.

Temperature, humidity, people and traffic flows, local water and air quality, and even the status of emergency equipment are just some of the many elements that sensors monitor at the scene of an emergency.

But most sensors use proprietary software and report their data in different ways, says Dr Mohsen Kalantari from the University of Melbourne’s Department of Infrastructure Engineering.

This makes it difficult to connect the data from different sensors and a variety of emergency services into meaningful information. The sheer volume of data generated can also overwhelm the truly critical information that requires action.

Dr Kalantari is leading research to resolve these two issues – the ability to bring together and make accessible all the available data at an emergency scene and to filter that data to identify the “actionable” information.

The project is in collaboration with the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Open Geospatial Consortium and other parties in the US, Canada and Germany.

By using standards developed as part of the Open Geospatial Consortium, Dr Kalantari and his team have developed software that can translate data from a wide range of sensors into a commonly understood language.

The project has also developed analysis algorithms to identify critical data, and a prototype system has been trialled by Homeland Security in the US.

In Australia, Dr Kalantari is investigating the potential to connect sensors on firefighting equipment such as oxygen tanks to local command and control centres as an additional safety measure for firefighters.

More information: Dr Mohsen Kalantari +61 3 8344 0274,