Mobile Emergency Response GuidE (MERGE)
Hazardous materials can cause serious accidents, emergency situations and therefore can make them dangerous to society and the environment. A federal law in the US requires vehicles transporting hazardous materials to be marked with a standard sign (hazmat sign) identifying the type of hazardous material the vehicle is carrying.
Hazmat signs help identify the material and determine what special equipment, procedures and precautions should be taken in the event of an emergency. This information is contained in the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) published by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). The paper guidebook assists emergency responders in an emergency with the knowledge of how to handle hazardous materials. As one might expect, the paper guidebook is large and requires precious time to search a hazmat sign to determine the proper way to handle a particular hazardous material.
The MERGE system, shown below, is an integrated mobile-based system that makes use of location-based services and image analysis methods to automatically interpret the hazmat sign and quickly provide guide information to users. The MERGE mobile application is capable of detecting hazmat signs from an image and querying an internal database to provide accurate information to first responders in real time. MERGE has an easy to understand user interface to instruct emergency responders or civilian in the proper way to handle a hazardous material emergency.
This project is funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperatibility Environments Center of Excellence(VACCINE) at Purdue University.