HSI® wins Innovation Solutions Canada contract for Firefighter R&D

Guelph, Ontario, Canada, November 2019 — For improved firefighter situational awareness, HSI® has been awarded an Innovative Solutions Canada Phase 1 (Proof of Concept) contract of $200,000 in response to an innovation challenge developed and funded by the Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP) administered by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), in partnership with Public Safety Canada. CSSP aims to strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate, prevent/mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism, crime, natural disasters, and serious accidents through the convergence of Science and Technology (S&T) with policy, operations and intelligence. The CSSP invests in, among other things, developing capabilities that help responders to conduct operations safely and effectively.

HSI®’s proposal was competitively selected in response to the Heads Up Hands Free Firefighting challenge that aims to provide innovative devices, applications and personal protective equipment technology to help position Canadian firefighters to work in a more Head Up Hands Free mode of operation on the fire ground.

Dave Tack, HSI® VP Operations and project lead explains: “Our goal is a fully integrated suite of wearable sensors for individual firefighters and the fire ground commanders using existing or emerging technologies. As with soldiers, firefighting is dangerous work with low visibility, heat, smoke and cumbersome equipment. To be both effective and safe firefighters must be able to share critical information even when their attention and hands are already fully occupied.”

“We take a human systems integration approach. Our first focus is on information firefighters really need. Only then can we figure out how to capture and present what information they must have for situation awareness about their surroundings and their team without distraction from immediate tasks. We have to find creative ways to use auditory, visual or tactile technologies that are compatible with existing equipment and the harsh environment. The system must enable firefighters to sense, share and quickly understand what they need to know.”

The HSI® team will work with a cross section of firefighters from the City of Guelph throughout this project. From them, HSI® will learn the challenges they face and the information needed by the members of an incident response team: those close to the fire, the team leader, and a commander for the entire operation. Then, HSI® and technology developers will work together to design and integrate the hardware and software architecture and to verify the design with firefighters.

Says John Osborne, Guelph Fire Chief: “As a City and a fire service, Guelph prides itself a leader in researching and finding new ways to make our job safer and more effective for citizens and for firefighters. Working on this project is how we can feed our experience as firefighters into finding better ways of using new technologies. Not only to meet our own needs but those of every fire service.”

The design created by HSI® in Phase 1 will be submitted for potential Phase 2 funding under the ISC program to build a prototype and evaluate it with firefighter users working under realistic conditions.

About HumanSystems® (www.humansys.com) For more than 30 years, with clients in Canada, the U.S. and other countries, HSI® has been a leader in human factors and human system integration solutions. We work in sectors including defence, emergency responders, health care, occupational safety and utilities. Individually and for teams, HSI® helps integrate people, performance and technology so systems work effectively, efficiently and safely. HSI® services include research, design, validation and training management. We focus on user fit between the abilities of the people and the technologies that together make up any system. In this way, HSI® supports product and system developers as well as procurement decision makers to reduce risks, lower life cycle costs and benefit return on investment.

Jeff Bennett

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