top of page

Fighting fire with data—an ecosystem of data collection and information dissemination tools for fire prevention and response


FireLink is the result of my on-going thesis work. I am exploring the use of data collection to drive positive action—in this case, firefighting.

FireLink explores the opportunity for technology innovation in the historically no-tech world of firefighting.

FireLink is an information management system. It collects information from the urban data landscape, a building's data standpipe and from pre-fire inspections. Then, it presents the information to firefighters through a tablet based app to inform decisions at the incident commander level and up and through a helmet mounted heads-up display to inform firefighters as they fight fires.


Interaction Design

Design Research

Augmented Reality

Expert Interviews

FDNY Responds to calls in 4.5 minutes on average

How can data help firefighters:

Reduce this time while making the most of it

In order to:

Save civilians,

Reduce threat to firefighters,

& Protect property


User Stories



As a firefighter, I want to know as much as possible about the building I am responding to. 


To include:

  • Number of civilians

  • Picture of Fire Building

  • Fire Location

  • Extenuating Circumstances

  • Various Access

Incident Commander

As an incident commander, I want to know as much as possible about the building I am responding to, the surround environment, and status of supporting emergency services


To include:

  • Hydrant info

  • Building design

  • Building layout

  • Fire escape

  • Sprinklers

  • Connected basements

  • Access points

  • Height of building

  • Location of fire

  • Type of building

  • Suspected life hazards

Battalion Chief

As a battalion commander, I want to know as much as possible about the fire crews who are working on the fire, the status of the fire building,

and the status of adjacent units


To include:

  • Safety concerns

  • Next level up, 5w’s

  • Who is on what company

  • Historical data

  • 911 Police Dispatch info

  • Safety concerns

  • Traffic conditions into fire scene

  • Civil Activities

  • District Info

FireLink System Map

Service Map.png

Data Collection

Data Standpipe

  • A standpipe is a system of pipes throughout a building that supplies water to hoses for firefighters to fight fires.

  • A data standpipe is a building information system that provides information to firefighters about buildings to give them insight into what is happening in the building.

  • Examples of information are: occupied apartment units, energy consumption, hazardous material

Data Landscape​

  • Throughout a city multitudes of sensors and systems are recording information. Much of this can be useful to firefighters.

  • Examples are: fire hydrant locations, construction locations, scheduled public events, blueprints from Dep't of Buildings

Pre-Fire Inspection

  • Firefighters routinely inspect buildings for fire safety

  • They check for fire safety issues and also document the buildings details such as number of subbasements and construction methods

  • This pre-fire inspection system allows for a collection of pre-fire inspection information and access department wide for fire prevention and training

Envelope 0472 2019-10-28.tiff

Fire Captain

Journey Map

Journey Map Black BG Cropped.png


Command Center



  • Every fire truck in the FDNY has a tablet

  • This is a channel that information can be disseminated to responding fire captains

  • Fire captains can use information like fire hydrant location and building blue prints to formulate their plans for how they will be addressing the fire

FireLink Dashboard

  • Satellite map

  • Building blueprints

  • Pre-fire inspection reports

  • Fire hydrant locations

  • Anticipated number of occupants

  • Weather data

  • Public events


There are iPads in every truck and [firefighters] would use them if they told them anything useful—like where the fire hydrant is

FDNY Fire chief (Ret.)

Data Standpipe

Data Standpipe Copy.png

Geospatial Data


Pre-Fire Inspection 

Pre-Fire Inspection Report.png


FL App Iteration.png

Heads-Up Display


  • Firefighters presently rely on tried and true methodologies to negotiate the fireground

  • However, new technology is creaping in that approximates heads-up display such as in-mask O2 meters, PASS systems, and helmet mounted thermal cameras

Augmented Reality:​

  • The best solution to providing firefighters important information is a heads up display

  • Thermal camera overlays

  • O2 sensors

  • Compass

  • PASS system

HUD Demo 4.gif
HUD Sketch.png

Co-Creation Workshop


  • Three firefighters and three defense innovators came together to discuss data tools for firefighting

  • We created a list of firefighter informational needs

  • Then we created a list of available but un-utilized datasources in NYC

  • Finally, we bridged needs and data sources and in doing so, generated a series of potential tools


We identified several categories of tools:

  • Building Infrastructure


  • Public Events

  • City Infrastructure

  • Sensors

  • Actions on the Objective

bottom of page