is an application I have been considering for years after seeing a story of 6 firefighters perishing in an arson fire when teams could not find them to lead them out in time. I also have experience on fire-rescue teams being a member of the Nuclear Source HAZMAT team
onboard AS-34 USS Canopus SSBN Tender
I often had to enter spaces that were pitch black dark during drills and relied heavily on our infrared cameras and ships blueprints for navigation and safe egress. We were "blind" without it.
Two teams were lost before the painful decision was made to send no more in.
I think a city could have rough virtual mock-ups of buildings or we could develop a system to instantly build rough copies in a virtual world platform of buildings from city blueprints.
I quote the following article link
on Wikipedia as the basis for my concept:
"The electrical impedance at any point along a coaxial cable changes with deformation of the insulator between the conductors."
for an article on rapidly modeling cities studied by UC Berkley. CityGML
seems to be setting the stage for preloaded models to be easily used .
A building could be instantly scanned using LiDAR
in conjuntion with blueprints downloaded from city files or preloaded to laptops, smartphones or PDA's. The image below is a real-time LiDAR robot that navigates obstacles autonomously:
In our case we would use a custom developed cable wrap and likely insulator material to establish an impedance in a conductor/shielding situation similar to coaxial connections like your cellular phone antenna connector or cable TV connector along the length of the firehose. A coaxial firehose electrically speaking.
The tough part is knowing where in the building the firefighters are. GPS and Radio tracking cannot be done indoors as they are Line of Sight
technologies. But one item always leads right to the team, the hose.
An electrical cable short (downward waveform section) shown over the distance of a cable for fault detection
This next assumption is based on past RF/Microwave Test Engineer experience running my own MILSPEC and ISO certified electrical test and analysis lab where we could determine the length of a cable using Time Domain Reflectometry
capable equipment such as a Vector Network Analyzer
and TDR Meter
and eventually could characterize cable and conductor bends and various faults.
We can tell the hose length by embedding a metal cable along the length of it but now we need to know when the hose and subsequently the tracking cable bends and in what direction, left, right, up, down etc. The concept is somewhat similar to this method
but much more complex to develop.
Using Fast Fourier Transforms
we could identify if a part was a right or left angle connector electrically in our engineering lab through electromagnetic signal analysis techniques..
Luckily there are likely to be many hard turns in a building so a special cable wrap needs to be devised that can sense, for example, a change in disruption of lines of magnetic flux and/or signal reflection similar to RADAR reflections which will occur if there is a small, high frequency signal injected along our cable wrap attached to the hose length.
As the inner radius of the hose compresses it causes a different signal reflection than that which will happen along the outer radius on a hose as the cabling expands on that surface when the hose is say angled around a hallway corner in an approximently 90 degree angle.
As I write this I also realize a 3D interactive model would explain this very idea best as well in addition to actually make the idea work ultimately
So the concept in a nutshell is modeling reflected RF/Microwave Voltage Standing Wave Ratio, or VSWR
reflections in such a way to be able to build a model of how the hose is shaped passing through the burning building. Apply a little Fuzzy Logic
to the process to account for irregularities and the concept becomes theoretically feasible though likely not developed without serious R&D.
Nonetheless it serves as an illustration of how not only web connected immersive mediums could be used but also local "hotspot" situations in the future in any disaster management situation where decisions need to be made on the ground. Even real world 3D scanners and cameras could be employed for FEMA type rescues situations or fire management decisions in areas of forest fires where knowing the surrounding area or building layout is critical in life saving decisions.
A futuristic concept for sure but not impossible in theory.