Wednesday afternoon at SUPDET was dedicated to a Workshop on Big Data and Fire Protection Systems focused on identifying the opportunities for big data to inform inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) decision making. The on‐going reliability of built‐in fire protection systems is related to ITM of these systems.
Nathaniel Lin (pictured below), NFPA's new director of data strategy and analytics, gave a presentation on “Big Data Analytics and Decision Making” where he highlighted the need for analytics to turn raw data into insights and solutions that can be acted upon. “True analysis,” he said, “leads to predictions. It uses the past to predict the future.”
Gayle Pennel followed with a “Case Study Presentation: Update of Fire Pump ITM Data Coordination” which came out of his 2012 Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Fire Pump Field Data Collection and Analysis" and was an effort to “provide credible and statistically valid fire pump performance data that substantiates testing frequencies and protocols.”
The second half of the afternoon was devoted to breakout groups who wrestled with the larger questions of what data might inform ITM decisions, how standard data formats might be developed, what data sources might be available, and what potential barriers to data sharing might need to be overcome. It was an exciting and talk-filled two hours! A workshop summary will be made available in the future.
Recent additional efforts to address this topic have included a previous Foundation Workshop on “Applying Reliability Based Decision Making to ITM Frequency” (2012), and a workshop at SUPDET 2015 on the topic of general research needs around the topic of ITM, which identified several areas where data is needed to answer key questions such as the optimal frequency for certain tests and the relationship between ITM activities and failures.