Collaborative Research: Personalized Systems for Wayfinding for First Responders

Principal Investigator: Jing (Eric) Du

Sponsor: NSF

Start Date: January 1, 2019

End Date: May 31, 2021

Amount: $230,149


First responders face serious risks when responding to emergencies, and disorientation induced by complex building features is a major cause of injuries. In order to successfully navigate complex, dangerous buildings during a crisis, first responders need to build accurate spatial memories of unfamiliar spaces in a timely manner. This requires retention and processing of a large amount of information such as maps and verbal instructions. An apparent gap between the enormous information processing needs during a mission and the limited processing capacity of people creates a potentially fatal situation in emergency wayfinding. This project will contribute to the NSF’s Big Idea “Harnessing Data for 21st Century Science and Engineering” by conducting fundamental research in information processing and engineering in the field of disaster management. This project will test the theoretical foundation of personalized wayfinding information systems that can effectively minimize the cognitive load of first responders on the individual level. This scientific research contribution thus supports NSF’s mission to promote the progress of science and to advance our national welfare. In this case, the benefits will be insights to improve emergency response wayfinding, which will save lives and potentially reduce economic losses during disasters.

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