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Sensors  2012 

Personalized Alert Notifications and Evacuation Routes in Indoor Environments

DOI: 10.3390/s120607804

Keywords: alert notification systems, evacuation routes, mobile emergency systems

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Abstract:

The preparedness phase is crucial in the emergency management process for reaching an adequate level of readiness to react to potential threats and hazards. During this phase, emergency plans are developed to establish, among other procedures, evacuation and emergency escape routes. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can support and improve these procedures providing appropriate, updated and accessible information to all people in the affected zone. Current emergency management and evacuation systems do not adapt information to the context and the profile of each person, so messages received in the emergency might be useless. In this paper, we propose a set of criteria that ICT-based systems could achieve in order to avoid this problem adapting emergency alerts and evacuation routes to different situations and people. Moreover, in order to prove the applicability of such criteria, we define a mechanism that can be used as a complement of traditional evacuation systems to provide personalized alerts and evacuation routes to all kinds of people during emergency situations in working places. This mechanism is composed by three main components: CAP-ONES for notifying emergency alerts, NERES for defining emergency plans and generating personalized evacuation routes, and iNeres as the interface to receive and visualize these routes on smartphones. The usability and understandability of proposed interface has been assessed through a user study performed in a fire simulation in an indoor environment. This evaluation demonstrated that users considered iNeres easy to understand, to learn and to use, and they also found very innovative the idea to use smartphones as a support for escaping instead of static signals on walls and doors.

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