Keller Rinaudo, a robotics innovator and founder of Zipline, speaking at the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, Monday.
In a world changing at warp-speed, what opportunities exist for life safety professionals willing to think outside the box? Both keynote addresses delivered at the opening day of the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas asked this question and answered it in different and enlightening ways.
Self-described futurist, trends, and innovation expert Jim Carroll, whose talk was entitled, “The Future Belongs to Those who are Fast,” began by asking the audience to consider just how quickly the world is evolving.
“We are in a situation where 65 percent of young children today will work in careers that do not yet exist,” he told the audience inside a ballroom in Mandalay Bay conference center. His prediction for those involved in fire safety and response: “You will see more change in the next 10 years in this industry than you have seen in the last 50.”
These changes provide both opportunity and challenges, he said. The rapid advance of technology such as data analytics and connected devices are already helping to make responders more efficient and reveal previously hidden opportunities. But other advancements are challenging our ability to keep up, and these uncertainties can invite risk.
“How do we deal with a world where we don’t know what risk comes next?” he said, adding that education to stay current on new systems is crucial. “The future is coming at you at a staggering speed and intensity, it’s up to you to align yourselves in a world where the future belongs those fast. You need to think big, start small, and you need to scale fast.”
The next speaker was Keller Rinaudo, a robotics and healthcare innovator who founded a company called Zipline in 2014. The company uses battery-powered autonomous aircraft to deliver critical medical supplies like blood to healthcare professionals and patients in some of the most remote parts of the world including Rwanda and Ghana.
“Blood is an incredibly crucial product, but it’s hard in terms of logistics—it doesn’t last long, and there are all different blood types, and you’re not sure what you’ll need before you need it.”
Zipline’s autonomous aircraft delivery technology allows the Rwandan government to keep blood banks centralized, then Zipline delivers it on demand to hospitals in remote areas of a country in minutes. The autonomous aircraft drops the blood via parachute at the front door, and doctors get a text message a minute before to alert them their package has arrived. The technology has cut blood waste to zero—which is unprecedented even in developed countries, he said—because remote hospitals don’t need to keep excessive amounts of perishable blood in storage. “We did that while also increasing access to blood products by 175 percent,” he said. “That shouldn’t even be possible.”
According to Rinaudo, his innovation shows the opportunity that our ever-changing world has for solving complex issues that did not before have a clear solution. Autonomous delivery technology, for instance, could help emergency responders deliver critical supplies to isolated people cut off by floods or other natural disasters quickly, without having to risk responder lives. Emergency medical technicians could also one day send life-saving medicine and supplies ahead of an ambulance to increase a victim’s chance at survival.
“This technology has the long-term potential to provide universal access to healthcare for every human on the planet,” he said. “That’s what’s possible from a technological perspective today.”