Fighting Fire with Data and Mobile Apps

A group of Princeton students is trying to change the way firefighters access data.

FireStop, a new mobile app created by a group of Princeton University students, could soon be saving firefighters 90 seconds on each emergency call. While that might not seem like much, it could very well be the difference between life and death for victims.

The students are aiming to put a valuable database of building layouts and fire conditions at the disposal of firefighters. The app connects to the cloud to deliver information quickly and efficiently. The success or failure of the app could hinge on the strength of its Internet connection, a service that is at risk during any emergency situation. To address this, the app stores data locally so that if the connection is lost, firefighters will still be able to access the most recent data.

FireStop App

According to their website, the FireStop team is currently testing the app with three fire departments in New Jersey. The developers are putting their energy into making the app accessible and easy to use by departments operating on tight budgets, according to Government Technology.

"Our goal is to bring better information to firefighters," said Charlie Jacobson, developer on the project and volunteer firefighter, reported. "And we need to provide this information quickly and intuitively."

The app, called FireStop, quickly draws information from a database and displays it in an easy-to-read format. Such databases are common tools for fire departments, but apps like FireStop make the data useful during active calls. "It's about the interface," Jacobson said. "You click the button and it's right there."

Fire companies already have a lot to think about and a lot of training to keep up on, he said, so they don’t need to learn how to use new software, too.

Increasingly, data is the most vital asset when it comes to public safety. Police forces, such as the Albuquerque Police Department, are finding that data helps officers fight crime and stay safe. It’s only natural that fire departments leverage the same technology for efficiency and safety.

<p>Credit: Princeton University</p>
Aug 28 2013