This week I participated in the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Connected Buildings Forum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was an opportunity for NEMA members to learn from related industry speakers about the internet of things and its connection to their business. I was asked to kick off the Forum by presenting NFPA’s vision of the opportunities that connected buildings present to enhance fire safety. Using the Research Foundation’s Smart Fire Fighting Roadmap as a starting point, I structured my presentation around four key areas with examples of opportunities in each. Here are some highlights:
- fire prevention – how building data (from BIM and other systems) can identify high risk structures for community risk reduction programs and to improve fire protection system inspection, testing and maintenance;
- fire protection – how information from embedded building sensors could improve the performance and durability of both active and passive fire protection systems
- fire mitigation/fire fighting – how real time sensor data can provide information for pre-planning, firefighting tactics, situational awareness and even firefighter health and safety
- fire forensics – how building performance data can inform fire investigation and lead to improvements to fire safety codes and design methods.
NFPA has a good story to tell in terms of the resources we already offer on this topic. I pointed to our electrical and building codes, our data exchange, and our fire service-related standards as examples of how to make the connection a reality. I talked about the Research Foundation’s work to enhance these standards and to highlight the smart home and smart firefighting issue. I also talked about our Data Analytics Sandbox and National Fire Data System projects which are leading the data exchange activities in our community.
If we are going to benefit from the connected buildings movement, we have to continue to reach out to organizations outside the fire community to show others the potential for these technologies to interconnect and enhance safety in a multitude of ways.