PITA Fiscal Year 2007 Projects

Innovative Infrastructure System Assessment Technology

Towards an intelligent facility: Development and testing of an RFID-based guidance approach for locating building components
In case of an emergency during the service life of a facility, there is a need to locate a set of facility components quickly. When responding to an emergency maintenance situation at the field, very few people know where the related components are. As a result, they waste time in identifying the broken components and their locations in order to remedy and better respond to a given situation. Having most of the facility components being obstructed by other components adds to the challenge of locating a facility component visually even for somebody who knows a facility and knows what to look for. When first responders to an emergency situation are not familiar with a facility, it becomes very challenging to identify components of interest and remedy a situation. Thus, there is a need for providing guidance (way-finding) for the first responders to help them quickly locate relevant facility components.

It is envisioned that an intelligent facility can guide a first responder in identifying what component to search for and to guide the first responder to the location of that component. Active Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, with its on-board data storage capability and long reading ranges, enables facility components to achieve some intelligence and provides an opportunity to explore the development of an approach for guiding first responders. The objectives of this research study are to identify and formalize the information needed to guide the first responders by leveraging building information models to get approximate locations of components under time constraints, and then to develop and test a statistical-based navigational approach to guide first responders to a relevant component. The proposed research will also identify different sensors to assist in navigation inside a building. The envisioned approach will leverage the data stored on RFID tags, building information models, the communication range and the signal strength of each tag. The project team will work closely with Carnegie Mellon Facility Management Services and with the project team developing assistive technologies for the blind, which is submitted as a separate PITA proposal. It is expected that such an approach will not only help first responders, but also any people (such as blind people) who might need help in navigating within a facility.