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|Capstone Project: Real-time Building Damage Assessment|
|Clients: Steven Bibby, Senior Manager, Security and Emergency Services, BC Housing Mike Andrews, Emergency Planning Officer, North Shore Emergency Management Office|
|Student Team: Natasha Kumar, Sittipol (Phil) Tribunyatkul, Kit Meng, Chen (Steve) Zeng|
|Professor: Michael Winch|
Emergency response has to be fast without sacrificing quality. "Rapid Damage Assessment" records any damage to buildings after an extreme weather event or earthquake as part of the emergency response. The clients for this capstone were interested in speeding up data collection of the existing, paper-based Rapid Damage Assessment forms without loosing any of the accuracy or detail.
The requirements of this design brief were formidable. For the field workers inspecting each building, the student team needed to replicate the paper form on a mobile devise, control the devise camera from within the application, and store the data on the phone or tablet in case a wireless connection was not possible during the emergency. For workers at the Emergency Operations Center, the students needed to develop a robust database that was: shared among emergency response agencies, searchable in a number of different ways and could display data on a map showing the level of damage of each building. Both the mobile application and database had to be easy to learn and use so as not to hamper emergency workers in any way.
After considering a number of ways to reach their client's goals the team decided to develop an Esri-based Android and iOS mobile application with a web-based database management system. The strength of this choice was the prospect of swift development, and the possibility for additional features. The field application is split into sections navigated using tabs, making it easy to input data. Photos can be attached to each form and sent to the database. If there is no network connection data can be stored on the phone. Data from the forms is sent to a website used for manipulating and exporting data.
Six experienced, rapid response field teams tested the system this March. The response to the test was overwhelmingly positive. "The test was a resounding success. It was universally agreed that the pilot is fully functional and could be put to immediate use, if necessary," Mike Andrews.
The project has made a substantial improvement for emergency services. Using a paper-based system, an Emergency Operations Center is often working with data that is 24 hours old because of the time required to get the data to the center from the field and compile it. Using the students Real-time Building Damage Assessment System the Emergency Operations Center can begin looking at data as soon as each building's assessment is completed.
This software will be used by many field workers in different agencies. The team was careful to document the software well, providing text for the end user as well as system requirements, software overview and technical description of the code. The team also created a programming interface for accessing the database and prepared Gap Analysis Report documenting what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done. Follow through that can help agencies in other jurisdictions use the system.
Left to Right: Phil Tribunyatkul, Kit Meng, Steve Zeng, Natasha Kumar, Bill White, Steven Bibby, Mike Andrews, Michael Wrinch
Find out more:
ECE Capstone Design Celebration, April 9th