Fire detection is among the various areas that can realize the extraordinary benefits of Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things (IoT) has led to much of the world becoming smarter and more connected. We have various kinds of fire detectors and suppression systems to help prevent against fire. The IoT is helping these products become more intelligent and connected. With IoT, now safety alerts can be sent to hundreds of people fast and effectively. Several leading fire safety companies, have already launched IoT-enabled fire detectors.
The most popular connected smoke detector on market is offered by Nest Labs, the leading smart home automation products. The company, now a part of Alphabet Inc., offers Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector. The Nest Protect detectors are able to communicate with the Nest thermostat and can shut off the furnace in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide. The detectors can be accessed anywhere using mobile apps. In the event of an alarm, the detectors sound a local alarm as well as send notifications on the mobile phone.
Kidde Systems, one of the leading safety companies, offers a monitor to add connectivity to existing detectors. With Kidde’s RemoteLync Monitor users don’t have to change all detectors. The monitor listens for the specific frequency of smoke and CO detectors and send an alert to its app when it hears them. One single monitor can cover multiple detectors on the floor.
Another retrofit option for users is available through a company called Roost. The company offers a 9V battery, that contains a Wi-Fi antenna and a microphone. Users can swap their regular batteries with Roost batteries in their old detectors to add smart features. The battery can send a push alert whenever the detector sounds. Users can also check the remaining battery life at any time with its app. Various other smart detectors and connectivity products are available through large players such as First Alert and new startups such as Leeo. Clearly, plenty of innovation is going on, and we continue to hear about upcoming smart products.
Move Toward Smarter Central Fire Alarms
While the smart detectors, discussed above, are more suited for single family homes or smaller multi-family dwellings, for larger residential, commercial, and industrial developments, there should be a central fire alarm and voice evacuation system.
In a central alarm system, all detectors are connected to a central controller and send signal directly to this controller. The controller actively monitors multiple locations and when it receives alarm input from the detection devices, it activates notification devices such as horns, strobe lights, and speakers to alert the occupants. Now, more and more connected and smart features are also coming to central alarm and evacuation systems. Now, mass notification systems include a paging component to relay live audio instructions throughout the building in case of an emergency. Many mass notification now a day also include support for various types of emergency messages such as inclement weather emergency, security alerts, amber alerts etc. Advanced features in mass notification systems include the capability to communicate alerts via SMS, text, email, popup, app message and push notification to targeted recipients, thus helping create quick and effective awareness.
Analytics for Better Emergency Planning
With IIoT and other advanced technologies, improvements can also be brought to emergency planning. Sensor and detector data along with other surveillance data can be combined with algorithms and analytics to help quickly prepare better emergency or evacuation plans. Analytics can consider various factors such as number of people in the building, building maps, location of fire, rate at which fire is spreading, direction of fire to come up with better evacuation plans. Analytics based evacuation plans can prevent congestion, by guiding crowd in different parts of the building to take the optimum route to ensure and fast and effective evacuation. With intelligent actionable information, safety manager, workers, and fire fighters will also be able to make better decisions.
Even with the best of technologies, we cannot avoid accidents altogether but much can be done to prevent them from becoming catastrophic. Connected products and solutions such as smart detectors, alarms, and notification systems can help us gather crucial alerts quickly and better plan for emergency situations to enhance safety, minimize damage and save human lives.