New research project to address safety of first responders

A York University research team led by Professor Peter Park from the Civil Engineering Department at the Lassonde School of Engineering and Professor Ali Asgary, associate director of the Advanced Disaster, Emergency and Rapid-response Simulation Facility (ADERSIM) at the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, has partnered with a signal, image and data processing company Airborne Underwater Geophysical Signals (AUG Signals Ltd.) and secured $2.2 Million in funding to undertake a radar-based roadway safety project.

From left: Peter Park and Ali Asgary

The project will address an urgent need. Annually, a significant number of first responders are killed or injured attending to roadway emergencies. While many factors present dangers, such as poor weather, impaired driving and speeding, it is believed that most casualties can be avoided if the first responders were better equipped to detect the threat of oncoming vehicles and warn them before a collision.

The objective of this three-year, collaborative project titled “ARGUS: Radar-based All-Weather Roadway Safety System,” is to demonstrate an effective and affordable all-weather solution to increase roadway safety for first responders. The direct involvement of first responders from York Regional Police, and traffic safety and emergency response experts from York University, is crucial to its success.

ARGUS will be a unique solution offering a vehicle-mounted radar with automated setup; 360-degree monitoring and target/threat classification; customized warnings to individual first responders, as well as a driver warning.

To better protect first responders, the following gaps will be addressed through the project:

  • Accurate Detection and Localization: No affordable and portable systems are currently available.
  • Threat Assessment: No efficient threat analysis system is in place capable of foreseeing accident risks and warning first responders in time to take adequate safety measures. Most existing systems have a high false alarm rate and frequent manual configuration make these products less reliable.
  • Targeted Warnings: Existing systems do not send targeted warnings to the individual responder and motorists.

The project contract, awarded under the Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP), is led by Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS) in partnership with Public Safety Canada. The project has two other industry partners – York Regional Police and the Ontario Good Roads Association.