AI platform monitoring firefighter health wins IBM Call for Code 2019 competition

The brilliant minds behind Prometeo, an AI-based platform to monitor and act on health and safety in real-time, won IBM’s Call for Code.

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IBM announced this weekend that firefighter healthcare platform Prometeo won the second iteration of its Call for Code competition. Prometeo is an AI-based system that does real-time firefighter health monitoring and long term analysis.

So far this year, the European Union has seen more than 1,600 wildfires, triple the average over the past decade. Firefighters are increasingly being called upon to battle larger, more violent wildfires that require long hours of smoke inhalation.

Josep Rafols, team lead and solution architect for Prometeo, said that this was the second year they participated in the competition and that he was happy IBM decided to help them spread their technology.

“We are doing this for the health of our heroes,” Rafols said.

“For this second year, we decided to go beyond and do an end-to-end platform beginning with a sensor that a firefighter will wear and that will start sending metrics to IBM’s IoT platform in order to analyze it with Watson’s machine learning.”

Rafols added that the system would record each firefighters’ metrics and analyze it so future decisions can be made on whether they should go out or not. The platform records how a firefighter is affected by the smoke and gases that they are exposed during every fire.

Prometeos goal was to increase the life expectancy of firefighters by monitoring what their bodies go through during each run.

By winning IBM’s Call for Code, the brilliant minds behind Prometeo get $200,000 as well as support from both IBM and the Linux Foundation. Prometeo is based in Barcelona and has been working primarily with wilderness firefighters in Catalonia.

“Prometeo is an outstanding solution because it leverages the real experiences of first responders and technologists who have witnessed the human toll of wildfires,” said Mami Mizutori, special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

“In Europe so far this year, authorities have recorded more than 2,000 wildfires, which is three times higher than average over the past decade. It’s more important than ever that we do everything we can to protect firefighters, as they risk their lives to protect us.”

IBM will also help Prometeo scale their product through the IBM Corporate Service Corps. IBM started Call for Code last year with the Charitable Partner United Nations Human Rights and the $30 million, five-year global initiative has helped bring start-ups, academics and enterprise developers together for good causes.

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Prometeo is a great example of this considering the makeup of the company. Veteran firefighter Joan Herrera, emergency medical nurse Vicenç Padró and data scientists Salomé Valero, Josep Ràfols and Marco Rodriguez all teamed up to create their platform.

At an event in New York City honoring the winners of the competition, IBM Senior Vice President Bob Lord said Prometeo, “created a combination hardware- solution based on multiple IBM cloud services.”

The device, which is about the size of a smartphone and can be clipped on to a firefighter’s arm, comes with multiple sensors that that measure key variables including temperature, humidity, and smoke concentration.

Their platform takes this information and sends it to IBM’s cloud IoT platform, which then relays the data to the IBM Watson-based machine learning model, which distills the information into a simple color-coded status for fire command centers to monitor the health of each deployed firefighter in real-time.

“This has been very important for us because IBM gave us an opportunity to allow us to use IBM’s cloud platform for our project. Also, from the first minute that we knew that we are the 32 finalists, they all put all the meat on the grill and started helping us,” Rafols said.

“Thanks to IBM we are here now and thanks to them we will be deploying our project worldwide,” Rafols said.

The 2019 Call for Code focused primarily on technology solutions for natural disasters and first responders. The finalists included conversational disaster AI platform Sparrow and disaster SMS chatbot Rove. Lord said more than 180,000 people from 165 nations participated in Call for Code and Code and Response this year.

Teams had full access to data and open source-powered technology from The Weather Company including IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, and IBM Blockchain. Almost 5,000 projects were created through the competition and the finalists were chosen by a group of judges that included Mizutori, former President Bill Clinton, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore and executive director of The Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin.

“In recent weeks, we have seen devastating news coming from the Bahamas as the true toll of Hurricane Dorian comes to light. And even two years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, communities across the Caribbean are still recovering,” President Clinton said in a statement.

“We know that we can use technology to reduce the impacts of disasters, mobilize resources more quickly, and save lives. This year, the Call for Code Global Challenge brought together the best and brightest minds to improve disaster preparedness and response,” Clinton said.

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