In today's advanced technological landscape, smart phones (perhaps more accurately described as mobile computers) and the "Internet of Things" (devices, vehicles, buildings and other items which are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity) are the norm. We can manage the temperature in a building remotely, we can start our cars with our cell phones and, in fact, those cars may be driving themselves before too long.
Given the fire and life safety industry has been relatively slow to adopt technology versus some other industries, it may not be surprising to learn there are a number of misconceptions about technology when it comes to code compliance and reporting. In fact, all primary Fire Codes now allow for electronic inspection reporting:
- NFPA 10 – Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
- NFPA 12A – Standard for Halon Systems
- NFPA 25 – Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems
- NFPA 72 – National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
- NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors
- NFPA 731 – Standard for Security Systems
- NFPA 2001 – Standard for Clean Agent Systems
Jim Pauley, President of the NFPA, spoke about the importance of technology to the industry at a BuildingReports event in Atlanta, GA during September 2015. "Technology provides us with great convenience and opportunity," explains Pauley. "Both NFPA and the fire and life safety industry (have) to be more proactive as all forms of technology expand. We have to make sure the life safety aspects don't get overlooked."
Big data is another area that's starting to get it's share of interest, beyond just the application of post-analysis around the causes and impact of fire incidents. Marketers and scientists have been leveraging algorithms to analyze and model big data for years to predict trends and make projections, and Pauley thinks it's time for the industry to follow suit. "We also know everybody today is talking about data. We need to greatly expand this concept in fire and life safety."
"At NFPA we recognize the important role that data has in our industry and we're stepping up our efforts to better gather, analyze and utilize data for our stakeholders and technical committee," Pauley explained. "What we can do by being at the intersection of data and technology is really exciting, and this is really just the tip of the iceberg."
One example of how big data can be used for the benefit of the industry is the annual BuildingReports Fire & Life Safety Inspection Report. Leveraging the world's largest and most robust database of fire and life safety inspection reporting, the report offers an insider look at inspection times, device failure rates and reasons, inspection performance by occupancy type and granular device-level data. Using this data, service companies, facilities and Authorities Having Jurisdiction can benchmark performance against industry averages and pinpoint areas for improvement in fire prevention.