In EFAS, sensors were integrated into the protective suits of the emergency services to measure body surface temperature, ambient temperature and the temperature of nearby objects. Data transmission was carried out via a mobile phone with heat shielding, which personnel carried with them in their protective suits. At the request of the Wilhelmshaven fire brigade, the protective clothing was designed as a coverall, rather than the conventional jacket/trousers combination, to allow better mobility in the narrow companionways of ships.
In operations on board, the briefing on the route of attack takes place in paper form using the fire and safety plan. Long attack routes mean that personnel have to remember numerous waypoints – and do so in an unknown environment under adverse conditions. Confirmation is limited to radio communication, as there is no GPS available inside the ship.
To enable tracking of movement towards the attack route, gyroscopic and acceleration sensors were employed. These are affixed to the shoes of the emergency personnel, and later will be integrated into the soles. When walking, the acceleration sensors measure the distance of each step and the gyroscopic sensors track direction, so that even movements from one deck to another are recorded. In the beginning, the sensors have to be initialized to determine the orientation of the emergency services and synchronize the starting point with the digital ship map on the situation display system. This enables the system to calculate the current position of the emergency personnel and mark it on the digital map of the ship.
Since emergency services usually lack a secure data link from the vessel, communication was carried out using a specially procured LTE mobile communication cell installed in the command and control vehicle. This transmits sensor data from the firefighters and establishes a digital radio link. From the mobile phone, the data is transmitted to a situation display system in the command vehicle as well as to the mobile situation display systems of operations control and the section leaders.
The situation display systems are designed to process all situation-relevant information in such that the user is given the best possible situational awareness. Conditions and changes have to be registered and understood quickly and their effects predicted. Improved situational awareness also supports the decision-making process. One way of achieving this is through methods of cognitive systems engineering, in which cognitive decision-making processes are taken into account in the situation display system.
During the mission, firefighters need to receive relevant real-time information but without being unsettled by the display of specific temperature values – for instance, in the event of a malfunction or even a break in radio contact. An LED display system was developed for this purpose. The display is affixed to the forearm above the glove and can be read like a wristwatch. Information on temperature as well as access routes of the fire brigade are transmitted to the screen. Retreat commands are sent to the firefighters using optical and acoustic signals.