There are various ideas about what artificial intelligence can do and where it can be used. In connection with AI, people often imagine a variety of IT industries detached from everyday life, and some even fear that AI will take control in the future and starts hurting people. But the opposite is closer to the truth so far. Artificial intelligence is much more advanced in protecting human life and safety.

AI already helps human safety in a variety of industries. For example, it cooperates with healthcare professionals to help determine a patient’s diagnosis and treatment. During that, it relies on an enormous amount of data that the human brain would hardly remember.  Artificial intelligence also protects human lives in criminology. It helps during investigations of human trafficking thanks to facial recognition tools, behavior prediction, and the ability to quickly process large clusters of information.

AI will also be used by firefighters in the future, even in the Czech Republic, where a research project is currently underway to create a digital voice assistant for the contact center of the Fire and Rescue Service.

A robot firefighter? Not quite

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Czech startup Born Digital, which focuses on digitizing human conversation and developing voice and chat assistants armed with artificial intelligence, is one of the subjects involved in the development of new technology to assist firefighters when their human operators are overloaded. “For example, large-scale fires are a major strain on emergency services. We are developing a technology that can receive calls, obtain and evaluate important information and pass it on to the fire brigade,” describes Born Digital director Tomáš Malovec.

The task of the voicebot is to find out what and where happened, what is the extent of the fire, how many people are on the spot, whether they are in danger or injury, and pass the information to the intervening firefighters. “Our current voicebot technologies are already at a very good level. But in this case, we have to go one level higher and minimize the error rate, because real human lives are at stake,” says one of the Born Digital project leaders Ondřej Ťupa.

Artificial intelligence must learn not only to recognize and classify the object of a fire but also to respond adequately, ask meaningful questions and evaluate whether it is necessary to send a professional rescue force to the field, such as calling a chemical team. “A forest fire, a car explosion after a motorway accident, or flames spreading through the apartment after an accident in the kitchen are different situations and require different scenarios and additional questions,” explains Born Digital linguists Klára Vostřelová.

The goal is to understand quickly and without mistakes

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Voice assistant can already recognize official Czech Republic addresses from the speech. The great advantage of artificial intelligence is the speed with which it manages to check if the specified address exists. For example, if a caller from Brno reports a fire in Barunčina Street, the system predicts within milliseconds that it is not the name of the street and the voicebot asks further because none of the streets in Brno is so named. On the contrary, for a caller from Prague, where Barunčina Street exists, the voicebot only makes sure with a confirmation question.

The speed of data verification is not the only advantage of involving artificial intelligence in the work of emergency operators. In addition to being able to handle several calls at the same time, voicebot continuously assigns reports of the same event to each other and reduces duplicates. He is therefore able to constantly refine and update information for firefighters and other rescue services.

The whole project is financed within the grant program “Security Research Program of the Czech Republic 2015 – 2022“. On the research, Born Digital participates with the University of Mining in Ostrava, Brno University of Technology, and SpeechTech and Phonexia companies.

Fighting the fire with artificial intelligence

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Czech digital voice assistant is not the only artificial intelligence technology in the world that is currently being developed to assist firefighters. In the USA, under the supervision of NASA, the Digital Assistant AUDREY (The Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and sYnthesis) is also gaining shape. His task will be to help those firefighters who are already in action at the scene of the fire.

In the future, AUDREY should be able to obtain data from the immediate vicinity of intervening firefighters, compare them from its extensive database of knowledge about fires and then advise firefighters on how to proceed with firefighting. AUDREY learns to work with data about temperature, the presence of gases, the flammability of various materials, and many other types of information. Together with an assistant from the Czech Republic, these two technologies equipped with artificial intelligence could be an unbeatable pair that will save a significant number of lives daily.

Check out Born Digital here.