Canadian Firefighter Magazine

From the Floor: November 2014

Jay Shaw   

Features Hot Topics Opinion

I have seen the future and it is scary. My timelines may be out but, basically, here’s what’s happening.

In late 2015 the Internet of Things (IoT) will become a mainstream ideology and, by about 2017, we will start to see the first real applications of its use. The IoT is based on connectivity among things – devices, systems and services – that will result in automation in almost all fields.

Already, our phones talk to our cars and you can program your house to a device and change your thermostat from the gym. When machines can communicate, we start to see applications where humans are no longer required.

Imagine a mirror with a sensor that picks up your facial expressions and learns your moods to reflect the type of advertising you’d like to see; this is about to happen through Winnipeg-based Advolve Media. Add sensor technology that scans your body for non-evasive blood-sugar monitoring (which already exists), temperature and heart rate; all picked up by cameras and mirrors in your house.

By 2018, medic-alert companies will provide this technology. Computers will send you a text telling you grandma got out of bed at 6:40 a.m. for a washroom visit and some toast, the water pressure changed for 15 seconds, and the fridge door was opened.

Our routines will be watched and monitored and the information sold to the highest bidder, likely Facebook and Google, which will introduce life monitors in public places, with heat scanners (which are in airports already) and body sensors.

Because you emit a signal from your phone, your home-monitoring system will alert your family when you faint from the flu before 911 is automatically called. Your spouse won’t have to worry about the kids; the system will send them texts telling them to contact grandma, who was also notified. The paramedics, who have been fully integrated with the health-care system, dial into the health computer system and book you an appointment while arranging for your car to be towed.

Your fridge will sense bacteria in your produce and alert you to increase your oven temperature to 400 F. Your stove received the message even before you were alerted, adjusted the cooking time, and texts you that dinner will be ready in 12 minutes.

Insurance companies by 2020 offer discounts for cities that buy into automaticity programming and support it with prevention technology such as new dry-gas pressurized fire-suppression systems.

Smart houses will be connected to technology that links to emergency services if temperatures or carbon monoxide levels increase. Commercial buildings will be required to have advanced IoT to reduce false alarms, while residential applications stall due to privacy concerns until the government takes over Google and Facebook and mandates new technology by 2025.

While responding apparatuses roll from fire halls, sensors in trucks and on street lights pick up the speed and co-ordinates, inform the officer that he or she will be first in and IC for a 1,400-square-foot bungalow. Life-monitoring sensors detect a 165-pound man with high carbon monoxide levels lying on the basement stairs, which are located on your map. The house has received an emergency tone from dispatch unlocking all doors and windows. The smart house offers to power down and release pressurized gas as soon as dispatch gives the signal. When you arrive, your smart SCBA screen shows the floor plan inside your face piece and the location of the victim. The rescue happens in less than one minute.

By 2023, the infrastructure planning for cities will take into account reduced false alarms and medical calls as smart-home technology will have been embraced.

All functions of the IoT can be controlled with the new generation iPhone 12, which is free as long as you agree to terms and conditions.

Fire and EMS will be so proactive that resources will flow to prevention. The issue will be dealing with those who do not conform to monitoring and are classified as Risk-Off Grid (ROG), pronounced rogue. Eighty-five per cent of civilians will be monitored and captured at least 40 times a day.

Vancouver will be the first city to mandate these changes with small communities holding on to cultural norms of the early 2000s. Red Deer, Alta., will form non-tech zones where off-grid citizens are welcome to live, as long as they follow conventional rules before the Charter of Technology and the new Privacy Act were enacted in 2028. That happens to be the year I retire from the fire service at the age of 59. If you think what I’m saying is crazy, ask your kids to go one day with out Internet. While you debate the future of the fire service I’m going to the dog park and I’m not bringing my phone. I am off the grid and going rogue.

Jay Shaw is a firefighter and primary-care paramedic with the City of Winnipeg. Contact him at and on Twitter @disasterbucket

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