Augmented Reality and Geographic Location in Emergency Response

Augmented reality can be crucial for helping the population navigate towards the correct location. As mentioned in our previous article, Augmented reality can become so personalized it will navigate, for instance, someone towards their desired restaurant. However, we have not discussed the use of augmented reality and geospatial analysis regarding rescue teams and medical necessity. For emergency medical personnel and firefighters, the geospatial aspect of AR could help save lives and streamline their rescue process. 

In fact, In Kite-Powell’s article in Forbes, she discusses the same concept. She points out how vital the use of technology was for a Thai cave rescue mission. During that mission, the team could see and interact with 3D geospatial data, which provided insights that weren’t otherwise possible with 2D. In the cave, it was necessary for them to understand the subsurface terrain so that they could model and visualize the cave for proper rescue. 

This is just one example of how modern-day technology saves lives and can be vital to an emergency response team. Glenn Letham, an expert in the geospatial space, helps us imagine a scenario where “A firefighter trying to find his way through a smokey environment where the visibility is zero. The responder is already wearing a helmet and mask so they could have an AR-enabled helmet where they can view their surroundings on their face shield or a small screen.” 

With hopes that the entire building’s footprints would be visible on the screen, it would enable them to find their way. In most cases now, satellite-based positioning is not always possible due to a lack of signal coverage inside buildings. Come AR, and this would change. In emergency situations, minutes, even seconds matter for someone’s life. If augmented reality could save precious time, why would we not jump all over it?

Location is everything for first responders. Whether that is for victims trapped in a building, flooding, or even tracking down a criminal. With the ability to visualize information in real-time, first responders will have much more power to work quickly and efficiently. 

Progress is already being made in this space. This last year, NIST’s public and Public Safety Communications Research Division launched the ChairIoT challenge which awarded “$1 million in prizes for solutions that can emulate and transmit scenario-accurate data streams for AR devices that will help public safety personnel communicate and respond more efficiently.”

AR technology will make decision-making easier in scenarios like wildfires, floods, or active shooter situations as well. Soon enough, we will see how augmented reality will change the world for the better. First responders and victims will be grateful for such technology to streamline the rescue process. 


What do you see for the future of AR and emergency response?

Skip to content