Lightstep’s simulations of disaster evacuation system

[From the web site of Zest Audio; more information about Lightstep Technologies follows below]

Community Simulates Disaster for Life Safety

Zest Audio has recently completed the installation of a high power Community sound system for the demonstration facilities of Lightstep Technologies at their Belfast headquarters.

Lightstep produce innovative products to help people escape from life threatening situations. Following many well publicised disasters in recent years, involving major loss of life in high rise buildings, nightclubs, underground stations and at sea, Lightstep has developed systems that represent a significant step forward in Life Safety systems.

Much has been done to improve and integrate the response and ability of the fire, ambulance, police and other emergency services but, until now, little progress has been made in developing integrated visual systems to increase the chances of escape from burning buildings, gas leaks, underground black outs, explosions on land or at sea, capsizing vessels or collapsing tunnels.

Night clubs continue to be a serious concern around the world, high rise buildings over seven storeys remain out of reach of the rescue services and nothing has previously emerged which can guide the occupants from these environments other than photoluminescent strips on stairwell step treads. But how to find those stairwells? Age old standard signs above doors, quickly obscured by smoke, are incapable of determining whether the exit is actually safe to go through, or if it will lead into a greater risk area; yet these are still specified into the newest, most stunning and architecturally ambitious projects throughout the world. In order to achieve a high probability of escape, Lightstep determined that a system had to be designed which would take advantage of all the development in real time sensors; a system which would use intelligence gathered from sensors throughout areas and entire buildings, no matter how high or complex, to guide people in the building out to safety.

In answer to this global need, Lightstep has created the world’s first Situation Sensitive, telemetry reactive Intelligent Evacuation System. “There still remains a gap between understanding a need and actually investing in systems that cannot be seen and, hopefully, will never be used”, explains Lightstep´s Director of Communications, John Morrissey. “To help overcome this we have created a truly effective demonstration facility that leaves visitors in no doubt of the need and of the effectiveness of a real life-saving system”. Lightstep has built two demonstration suites – an underground railway station and a stairwell, as would be found in any public building from an office to a hotel or nightclub.

Both are simulators in which visitors can experience real-life disasters. The lights go out, sound tracks play at real-life levels and smoke fills the environment. “Understanding the need for real impact, we based the audio system on eight Community R.25 loudspeakers”, said Zest Audio MD, David Honeyford. “These give astounding sound levels with absolute clarity, and no distortion to reduce the illusion. Four Community CLOUD4 ceiling speakers provide additional coverage and the system is powered and controlled by two Panasonic BX-500 receivers, with two Panasonic DVD players providing the source.

This is a dual demo suite and is installed in a 7.1 configuration, with three Audica Professional active MICROsubs. “We wanted a facility that could truly shock”, concludes Morrissey, “And Zest have supplied the audio for this beyond expectations; the realism is frightening. You can feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and your chest tighten as with a sense of real panic. The sound effects are absolutely real and the subs are positioned tight against the stairwell, so you can feel the low frequency rumble in the building as well as hear it. By creating this very real disaster simulation we most effectively prove our systems”.

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[From The Ulster Star]

Local company’s technology set to save lives across the world

Published Date: 12 October 2009

A Dunmurry company has developed technology which could save the lives of people across the world caught up in  terrifying situations where buildings have to be evacuated in a hurry. Lightstep Technologies, which is based in the City Business Park, has revealed the world’s first ever fully intelligent evacuation technology for escape from buildings of any sort, sea going vessels and aircraft.

The system manages the flow of people in a calm manner by effectively taking the decision out of their hands and indicating which direction to evacuate.

It responds to changes in the nature of the emergency based on intelligence provided by a network of sensors throughout the scenario and is able to automatically redirect people away from congested stairwells or hallways in order to make full use of every available exit route.

Research has shown that in an emergency some suitable exits may be completely ignored by the crowd while some others may appear safe but are actually leading panic stricken people into dense smoke or other hazards.

Local man Kieran Patterson, founder and Executive Chairman of Lightstep and a team of 30 have been working on the idea for six years.

Lightstep has won praise from across the world with leading figures including John T Wall, co-chairman of World Trade Centre Dulles Airport, Gregory Cade, assistant director of national programs with the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Kay Goss who was President Bill Clinton’s former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency here for the launch of Lightstep.

Mr Patterson said “When I came up with the concept, I never realised its global potential. The reaction has been unbelievable.”

“It is genius evacuation technology, which has global reach. One of its assets is its simplicity yet the technology is incredibly sophisticated,” said Kay Goss.

Greg Cade, who has 42 years experience as a firefighter, believes had Lightstep been on the market and installed in the Twin Towers and Pentagon on 9/11 lives would have been saved. “The world needs this technology,” he said.

John T Wall said: “We are excited about Lightstep. If this technology can help even one person, it’s worth looking at and moving forward on.”

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