Following a research initiative, a team of researchers at the University of Alabama has developed and tested a new device to disseminate emergency messages. The Bluetooth-based system is suitable for use in urban areas. The initiative was undertaken to address inefficiencies in dissemination of messages for emergency and hazard situations. At present, broadcast media or physical signs is the method for such messages that are usually sent to the public.
In fact, from the U.S. data of 2016, only 387 wireless emergency alerts sent by state or local governments which is very small compared to 2 million broadcasted by National Weather Service.
“At the time of natural disasters, a number of communication infrastructure breaks due to phone or power network outages,” stated the lead researcher. The dissemination of emergency management information to people and to inform them of dangers, or to create evacuation routes is difficult. The newly created system, called InSight can work during such difficult times, when there is no power, GPS, or phone networks, to disseminate emergency alerts and save lives.
Meanwhile, InSight was designed to be easily deployable. A beacon for first responders with minimal cost that accurately detects users who are approaching a hazard sight. Structurally, the product comprises a mobile app, beacons, and a backend server to analyze and disseminate signals that can be received without an Internet connection.
Importantly, the beacon tested in three different emergency situations to establish their working.