Intelligent egress has been proposed as a novel approach to enhancing evacuations from fire emergencies by means of “way-finding” systems which exploit live information gathered from building sensors. Under conventional approaches to evacuation, occupants are not normally provided with any aides to selecting egress path, and it is known typically follow the route they are most familiar with. This can lead to inefficiencies and may also violate design assumptions on escape route utilisation, with an increase in overall evacuation times, thereby increasing the possibility that occupants may be exposed to unsafe conditions.
But modern buildings are sensor rich, and there is great potential for exploiting knowledge of the progress of fire behaviour, the evolution of hazardous conditions, and occupant response derived from existing or dedicated monitoring systems. Sensor-linked fire models have been successfully demonstrated in the FireGrid project (1,2). Efficient route-planning was also examined from a theoretical point of view (3). The potential for exploiting way-finding systems was highlighted in subsequent work by means of trial evacuations and simulation-based analyses (4).
The current project seeks to further advance intelligent egress systems by harnessing technologies to support the determination of efficient egress routes and effective transfer of information for diverse end users. Thus, occupant location monitoring, and associated privacy issues, are being examined. The practicalities of route-planning are being revisited from the perspective of realistic occupant populations with mixed demographics. Engagement with potential end users is underway, i.e. with owners and occupants of hotels and care homes, and the fire and rescue services, for development of appropriate mechanisms and content of information, encompassing the use of innovative technologies such as handheld and mobile devices. Issues related to the implications of mobility impairment and specific disabilities on egress are being addressed. The ultimate aspiration is to demonstrate the application of such systems in realistic scenarios, with diverse occupant populations – to be addressed by means of fully-coupled sensor-linked fire/egress models run in conjunction with full-scale trial evacuations, as required. At the end of the project, detailed guidance and recommendations on use of such systems will be produced.
1. Han., L, Potter, S., Beckett, G., Pringle, G., Welch, S., Koo, S.-H., Wickler, G., Usmani, A., Torero, J.L. & Tate, A. (2010) “FireGrid: An e-infrastructure for next-generation emergency response support”, J Parallel & Distributed Computing 70:11 1128 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpdc.2010.06.005
2. Koo, S.-H. 2011 ““Forecasting fire development with sensor-linked simulation”, PhD thesis, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh
3. French, T. 2011 “Evolutionary optimisation of network flow plans for emergency movement in the built environment”, PhD thesis, Centre for Intelligent Systems and their Applications, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh
4. Grindrod, S.E. 2013 “Intelligent fire evacuation system”, PhD thesis, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh
Liam Ingram (EPSRC iCASE PhD student), Kelsey Anne Post (IMFSE)