Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

IBM helps start-up give information to first responders

Steve Rogerson
September 5, 2019

British Columbia start-up Lightship Works is adopting IBM artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technology to give first responders fast access to insights during critical incident responses.
IBM is working with Lightship Works, an intelligent field operations start-up, to integrate AI with IBM Watson and cloud technology into its disaster response system, helping give first responders and central organisations up-to-the minute insights during emergency situations.
Additionally, by hosting its mobile application on IBM’s cloud, Lightship Works can infuse higher value services, including Watson speech to text and natural language processing.
Lightship Works develops mobile applications that combine updates from first responders and recovery agencies with data from infrastructure, weather services, sensors and real-time tracking of people and equipment to provide a common operating picture to facilitate decision-making during complex incidents.
The company is now working with IBM to integrate AI into its products so they can quickly learn and discern large amounts of information, such as real-time and forecast data, and then feed those insights back into the application for on-going updates.
That way, for example, if crews are fighting a wildfire in a specific area, they can receive automatic alerts if the data suggest the wind is likely to shift direction or has changed intensity. This helps crews to stay out of the way of the moving fire. This AI-integrated software runs on IBM’s cloud for a connected, secure and adaptable platform.
Lightship Works brings the four phases of emergency management – mitigation, preparation, response and recovery – together in the mobile system. Across all phases, it gives authorised agencies, such as fire, police, local governments and recovery not-for-profits, access to real-time information to inform critical decisions.
If, for example, trees go down or roads become covered with mud, the system can quickly alert response crews to plan safer routes. Additionally, rather than generic daily reports written for multiple agencies, it can provide individual first responders with personalised views of the information they need, when they need it. 
"Technology is a game-changer that augments capacity of first responders and recovery agencies," said Jaethan Reichel, CEO and co-founder of Lightship Works. "We are witnessing a trend where natural disasters are becoming more complex, frequent and of higher intensity than ever, so it is really important that the technology be easy to use but also incredibly stable, secure and responsive. That is one of the reasons we decided to work with IBM."
The tri-municipal North Shore Emergency Management in Greater Vancouver is working with Lightship Works on research and development as it relates to emergency preparedness, response and recovery work.
"This technology is intended to enhance and improve emergency management processes and has significantly helped our teams," said Mike Andrews, deputy director of North Shore Emergency Management. "We are pleased that Lightship Works is working with IBM. When we are in a crisis scenario, there is a critical dependence on reliable technology for things like situational awareness, resource requesting, rapid damage assessment and evacuation notification tracking. It's vital that it works."
An IBM innovation team on a province-wide tour met the Kamloops-based Lightship Works and recognised the value of the firm’s work and the opportunities for collaboration.
"When we met Lightship Works through Innovate BC, we immediately recognised the value they had already created with their application, and we wanted to help further enhance that to help address advanced information integration," said John Longbottom, senior innovation development executive for IBM in Canada. "As part of IBM's work with start-ups, there is a strong focus on building an agile ecosystem to help create innovations for the most pressing issues currently facing Canadian businesses."
Lightship Works is a field operations platform that provides a comprehensive incident response, in-field data collection and asset management to large industry, local government and emergency management organisations through simple-to-use mobile applications. The platform has gained traction in day-to-day industrial operations as well as during critical event response, including during the recent freshet and wildfire seasons in British Columbia.