Emer­gen­cy — GPS Navigation

GPS Navi­ga­ti­on for emer­gen­cy ser­vices — Map­Trip 112 at the fire depart­ment Wuppertal

The vehic­les of the Wup­per­tal fire depart­ment, inclu­ding fire engi­nes and res­cue ser­vices, are equip­ped with Map­Trip 112, the GPS navi­ga­ti­on for emer­gen­cy ser­vices. Read here how this helps the emer­gen­cy ser­vices to arri­ve at their desti­na­ti­on as quick­ly as possible.

In issue 25 of May 2020, the maga­zi­ne FEUERWEHR | RETTEN – LÖSCHEN – BERGEN repor­ted on the use of Map­Trip 112 at the Wup­per­tal Fire Depart­ment:

New GPS navi­ga­ti­on system for emer­gen­cy ser­vices at the Wup­per­tal fire department

In the event of an ope­ra­ti­on, the fire depart­ment must not only relia­bly arri­ve at the right place – but also do so as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. Ana­log GPS navi­ga­ti­on with city maps has been repla­ced by digi­tal GPS navi­ga­ti­on systems for this pur­po­se. A fire depart­ment from the Ber­gi­sches Land regi­on has found an indi­vi­du­al solu­ti­on for a navi­ga­ti­on system that ful­ly takes into account its spe­cial needs. 

Emergency — GPS Navigation
Fire offi­cer Dirk Schucka using Map­Trip 112. Pho­to: Wup­per­tal Fire Department

The fire depart­ment is also fee­ling the effects of social chan­ge. Employees are chan­ging employers and places of resi­dence more fre­quent­ly. As a result, vehic­le crews no lon­ger know their way around as well. That’s why today’s fire depart­ments also need good GPS navi­ga­ti­on systems to get them to the sce­ne of an emer­gen­cy as quick­ly as possible.

A digi­tal GPS navi­ga­ti­on system for Wuppertal

In the past, the Wup­per­tal fire depart­ment used map prin­touts to navi­ga­te through the alarm tele­gram. The fire­figh­ters navi­ga­ted with city maps and plans and had to spend time sear­ching the city map on the wall for the assignments.

Becau­se one fire engi­ne was losing valuable time due to a cons­truc­tion site, they swit­ched to a digi­tal solu­ti­on in 2006: The Dal­les dis­patch system with the Da Vin­ci navi­ga­ti­on system. The Wup­per­tal Fire Depart­ment main­tai­ned its own road vec­tor net­work for this pur­po­se. This was used in both the ope­ra­ti­ons con­trol system and the navi­ga­ti­on system. The pro­prie­ta­ry rou­ting system aler­ted vehic­le crews to a pos­si­ble rou­te chan­ge with a pop-up win­dow befo­re the trip.

With the inno­va­ti­on of digi­tal radio, the fire depart­ment re-ten­de­red its mis­si­on con­trol system in 2015/2017. Becau­se it sub­se­quent­ly swit­ched to a new mis­si­on con­trol system, the fire depart­ment also had to take a com­ple­te­ly new look at the topic of navi­ga­ti­on. This was becau­se the navi­ga­ti­on system used until then could not be ope­ra­ted as a stand-alo­ne solu­ti­on apart from the old mis­si­on con­trol system.
Ano­ther pro­blem was that the vec­tor net­work, which had been in use sin­ce 2006, could not easi­ly be con­ver­ted to the sta­te of the art for newer navi­ga­ti­on systems. The data basis for the new ope­ra­ti­ons con­trol and navi­ga­ti­on system came from the com­pa­ny HERE. The fire depart­ment had purcha­sed road maps the­re with the licen­se to edit and adapt them. It is sup­port­ed in this by the “Sur­vey­ing, Cadast­re and Geo­da­ta” depart­ment of the city of Wup­per­tal, which pre­pa­res the data for it. Tog­e­ther, they deve­lo­ped a pro­ce­du­re to bring the exi­sting map mate­ri­al up to date. That’s why they were loo­king for a pro­vi­der of navi­ga­ti­on soft­ware that could inte­gra­te their own road network.

Four pro­vi­ders were short­li­sted during a search for a new GPS navi­ga­ti­on system for emer­gen­cy ser­vices. The info­wa­re GmbH from Bonn final­ly con­vin­ced with fle­xi­bi­li­ty, func­tion­al ran­ge and pri­ce-per­for­mance ratio of their navi­ga­ti­on soft­ware Map­Trip.

Emergency — GPS Navigation
Streets that are too nar­row and hin­der quick access to the sce­ne of an emer­gen­cy are no lon­ger an issue. Pho­to: Wup­per­tal Fire Department.

Adap­t­ati­on of the road maps and map spe­cial rights

Espe­ci­al­ly the indi­vi­du­al adap­t­ati­on of the routa­ble road net­work is essen­ti­al for the fire depart­ment. This is becau­se their navi­ga­ti­on needs dif­fer great­ly from tho­se of a nor­mal pri­va­te user.
Wuppertal’s Nord­bahn­tras­se, for exam­p­le, is a for­mer rail­road line that now ser­ves as a bicy­cle path and foot­path. A nor­mal navi­ga­ti­on system would not gui­de you the­re in car mode. The fire depart­ment, on the other hand, must be able to navi­ga­te to such rou­tes and pede­stri­an zones in the event of an acci­dent. Nor­mal navi­ga­ti­on systems, howe­ver, do not allow this. The use of the adapt­ed road net­work is pos­si­ble with Map­Trip, the GPS navi­ga­ti­on system for emer­gen­cy ser­vices. The fire depart­ment can thus rou­te to any loca­ti­on. This also applies to forest roads: in the event of an acci­dent, the fire depart­ment must be able to navi­ga­te as clo­se as pos­si­ble to the inju­red per­son. This means that the emer­gen­cy ser­vices some­ti­mes have to cover the last 100 meters on foot with the navi­ga­ti­on system in hand. With a nor­mal navi­ga­ti­on system, this would requi­re swit­ching to pede­stri­an mode. But the data records are often not available for this.

Short-term chan­ges, such as a height rest­ric­tion that makes an under­pass impas­sa­ble, can be ente­red imme­dia­te­ly and new cons­truc­tion are­as can be inclu­ded in the road net­work as they are being built. Even bridges or tun­nels, which may be used by the hea­vy vehic­les of the fire depart­ment due to spe­cial rights despi­te a ton­na­ge rest­ric­tion, can be pro­ce­s­sed in the vec­tor mate­ri­al. A main traf­fic rou­te in Wup­per­tal, for exam­p­le, leads through a tun­nel in which no hea­vy traf­fic is actual­ly per­mit­ted for fire load rea­sons. Tem­po­ra­ry chan­ges to the cour­se of a road or street festi­vals can now also be taken into account. Back­yards who­se hou­se num­ber is clo­ser to ano­ther street can be added to the street net­work at short notice.

The Wup­per­tal Fire Depart­ment dif­fe­ren­tia­tes bet­ween navi­ga­ti­on for Ger­ma­ny and for Wup­per­tal. In this way, data can be pro­ce­s­sed more quick­ly on smal­ler maps with lower data volu­mes and cons­truc­tion sites can be implemented.

Opti­mi­zed rou­tes for lar­ge vehicles

The new system has made it pos­si­ble to opti­mi­ze the over­all rou­tes for lar­ge vehic­les. With vehic­le pro­fi­le-depen­dent (truck/car) rou­ting, ide­al rou­tes can thus be found. Small, nar­row streets, for exam­p­le, are only tra­ve­led by fire trucks for the last 100 meters. In addi­ti­on, a rea­li­stic speed is given, which is valid for a fire truck dri­ving with spe­cial rights.

A nor­mal navi­ga­ti­on system can­not do this wit­hout swit­ching bet­ween the dif­fe­rent user modes car and truck. But this results in other, serious pro­blems: The system would then use nar­rower roads that are not desi­gned for a fire truck. And swit­ching from pas­sen­ger car to pede­stri­an or bicy­cle lane would pos­si­bly lead over pede­stri­an bridges or stairs.

Updates omit­ted

The fire depart­ment had pro­blems with map updates for a long time, becau­se no manu­fac­tu­rer could take their needs and spe­cial fea­tures into account. Updates often took place only after half a year or a who­le year. This is, of cour­se, much too late for the fire depart­ment. The year-long recons­truc­tion of the Döp­pers­berg as well as the clo­sure of the Bränd­ström­stra­ße have shown that the update on the release of the streets took seve­ral months or even years. If lar­ge pro­vi­ders have not yet inclu­ded new­ly built roads in their road net­works, acci­dents can hap­pen the­re in par­ti­cu­lar. The fire depart­ment must be pre­pared for this. Today, the Wup­per­tal fire depart­ment is no lon­ger depen­dent on exter­nal updates thanks to the indi­vi­du­al adap­ta­bi­li­ty of the navigation.

Auto­ma­ted deployment address from the con­trol system

Now, befo­re set­ting off, the vehic­les recei­ve an exact deployment address in the form of a coor­di­na­te from the deployment con­trol system: Among other things, the type of alarm, tac­ti­cal infor­ma­ti­on and other useful tips appear on the on-board com­pu­ter. In addi­ti­on, the crews are shown all the resour­ces invol­ved, such as fire engi­nes, com­mand vehic­les, the turn­ta­ble lad­der or the emer­gen­cy phy­si­ci­an. The crews only have to click on the navi­ga­ti­on but­ton. They no lon­ger have to enter the deployment address manu­al­ly. Map­Trip then starts imme­dia­te­ly. Coor­di­na­te rou­ting saves the fire depart­ment a lot of time.

In addi­ti­on, the­re is the pos­si­bi­li­ty of the so-cal­led ren­dez­vous sce­ne. For exam­p­le, a delay­ed emer­gen­cy ambu­lan­ce can be navi­ga­ted to a res­cue vehic­le that has alre­a­dy star­ted moving and is no lon­ger at the sce­ne. All 115 vehic­les of the Wup­per­tal fire depart­ment, inclu­ding fire engi­nes and ambu­lan­ces, are equip­ped with MapTrip.


Poor­ly cho­sen rou­tes, time delays due to unknown obs­ta­cles or miss­ing updates are a thing of the past: “Thanks to the indi­vi­du­al adap­ta­bi­li­ty of the map mate­ri­al in the navi­ga­ti­on soft­ware, we have a navi­ga­ti­on system that leads us to the sce­ne of the emer­gen­cy quick­ly and with the opti­mal rou­ting,” sum­ma­ri­ze Fire Chief Dirk Schucka from the Wup­per­tal Fire Depart­ment and San­dra Rickert from the Land Regi­stry Office.

Emergency — GPS Navigation
Ton­na­ge and height rest­ric­tions can also be avo­ided thanks to the new navi­ga­ti­on system. Pho­to: Wup­per­tal Fire Department.

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