Saving the Saviours

Firefighting is a hot topic in New Zealand right now.

Many of us have been admiring the firemen tackling the blaze at the Auckland Convention Centre, donning their suits for long shifts at great personal risk.  Firefighting is an inherently dangerous activity.  Every toddler is taught to keep back from the flames yet every day brave men and women choose to ignore this basic instinct and enter the danger zone to save other people and their property.

Fire commanders will soon have a new tool to keep their crews safe.  Promoteo has just won the IBM Call for Code 2019 challenge for their innovation: an AI monitoring device that firefighters will wear that monitors their environment and notifies command when things go wrong.

The tech start-up Promoteo is a small team of 5 comprised of a firefighter, nurse and three coders – but they’ve caught the world’s attention and have received grants to fast-track their development.

Promoteo’s device will use artificial intelligence to assess danger and relay the information back to a central command area.  It will monitor (in real-time) air quality, heat, humidity and record the length of exposure of each firefighter to calculate the cumulative effect and risk.  If the commanders light goes red, he knows who is in trouble and can scramble a rescue team.

This is just another example of how robotics and artificial intelligence is becoming part of and improving our daily lives, regardless of what we do.  No doubt at some stage we will cover the actual firefighting robots – the longer-term future of firefighting?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.