APSU’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center received a Google grant to develop its project to create technology which locates volunteer firefighters in the field.

Google’s Internet of Things (IoT) Research Award focuses on devices that use the internet to communicate. The grant provided equipment to the GIS Center to use in the development of its design. The project uses Bluetooth-enabled devices, which constantly emit a signal to broadcast the location of volunteer firefighters to unit commanders. The project focuses on rural volunteer fire departments which may not otherwise know where someone is or who is present at the scene of a blaze.

Mike Wilson, the director of the GIS Center, is working alongside APSU students to make communication and organization easier for the fire department commanders and volunteers.

In an APSU press release, Wilson explained the technology involved. “We got to thinking we could take these beacons and maybe put them in a firefighter’s coat,” Wilson said. “Some beacons have a range of up to 200 meters and they all have a unique ID to them, so if I had this in every firefighter’s coat and I knew what each unique ID was and I had a detector, I could know exactly who is on site at that time.”

The technology APSU students developed can be installed and run on laptops and Android mobile devices, and will display real-time information about available responders.

“Students were very involved with the design,” Wilson said. “For our projects, we typically assign students to a project with broad goals. The students must figure out how to execute.”

The design has not yet been tested in the field.