Keywords: autonomous sensors, urban search and rescue, USAR, information management, building collapse, just-in-time information, JIT information, emergency management, data collection, monitoring devices, disaster response
Autonomous sensors for just-in-time information gathering in support of search and rescue in the event of building collapse
Collapse of buildings happens too rarely to justify continuous data collection, even in buildings of special occupancy. Then again, in the event of a collapse, prompt availability of information is crucial for the rescue of trapped people. The use of autonomous sensors to trigger data capturing only when required is the base of a system that was developed to collect and manage information useful for Urban Search and Rescue (USAR). The system comprises monitoring devices installed in each closed space of the building and portable units to be used by the intervention teams. Triggered by a collapse, each monitoring device stores a sequence of images concerning to the situation in the room 5 min before the collapse and 10 s after. It then stays in the rubble, ready to transmit the data to the USAR team on demand. Laboratory tests of the preindustrial prototype system and hands-on evaluation by rescuers in field conditions provided valid proof of concept.