Phase One Prize Winner: OWL Integrations

owl integrations


During an emergency, first responders risk their lives to help those in need. Knowing the whereabouts of individual personnel and/or other deployed resources in the field is of critical importance during emergencies. If a first responder is missing and not communicative, then it is important to know where they are physically located to effectively direct resources for immediate help. Or if operators know where the personnel who are in need of assistance are physically located and any at risk responder is able to communicate, then these operators can help guide them to safety.

Today’s location-based solutions are either limited by 2-D mapping or are complicated and expensive solutions to track the real-time location of a first responder. And what if the disaster or search-and-rescue missions are off the grid? We are proposing a hardware and software solution that consists of a cheap and easy-to-use mesh network and a cloud data platform.

OWL developed an ad-hoc mesh network that consists of an Internet-of-Things (IoT) device called the “DuckLink” or “Duck.” Each Duck runs an open-source firmware developed by OWL called the ClusterDuck Protocol (CDP). The Duck device leverages LoRa (Long Range Radio) for 3-dimensional mapping and real-time data transportation and has an array of sensors integrated to collect temperature, humidity, pressure, multiple gas exposures, and more to provide situational awareness. All these Duck devices cluster together into the ClusterDuck Network (CDN) and transport all network components’ data to one Duck Gateway where offline data can be analyzed and be uploaded to the cloud by either Wifi, LTE, or satellite.

All this data is collected by the OWL’s Data Management System (DMS) where 3-D mapping tools, live data streams, and Duck/first responder’s current health vitals can be leveraged to better make decisions in the field. In addition, the data streams can be integrated with existing Emergency Operations Center’s (EOC) by using the APIs and integration tools provided by the DMS. Therefore, the first responders will have real-time situational awareness of the task at hand.

We will develop an algorithm on top of the CDP, called the Duck Positioning System (DPS) that can estimate the location of each deployed Duck that is part of a response by creating a localized PNT (Position, Navigation, and Timing). Part of our solution is that if a first responder has a Duck (small, lightweight, and very easy to use) in their possession, the nearby Ducks can provide the information necessary for the algorithm to produce a 3-D estimate of the location of that first responder. The first response team can then utilize this location tracker and information about the environment within the immediate area in which they are deployed to make better decisions regarding deployments of resources, as well as to provide appropriate assistance to an individual responder when and where this assistance may be needed.

OWL Integrations (formerly Project OWL) won the global grand prize in the 2018 IBM disaster resilience Call for Code competition from over 100,000 competitors. This competition focused on surfacing technologies that can support communities with innovative technology to help them prepare for, deal with, and recover from natural disasters. Coming on the heels of 4 major Atlantic hurricanes – Maria, Irma, Harvey, and Florence – these disasters inflicted over $300B in economic damage and resulted in 10,000 casualties. With this founding mission in mind, OWL continued to focus on the goal of disaster resilience, which effort has included the company successfully executing a WorldBank funded grant to deploy wireless communications across Himachal Pradesh in northern India in November of 2021.

This fundamental technology flexibly applies to several large, multi-billion dollar markets. We are developing sensor equipment for industrial and energy sector challenges, logistics and fleet management solutions, and disaster resilience communications networks.

In the proposed solution we see a huge value for the firefighter. Current communication systems are bulky and outdated and the price is high. We see a value in providing these small devices with a lower price point that add a new layer of Firefighter monitoring which does not exist to-date. We are looking to partner with firefighters, EMS and other first responders to better define the need in emergency scenarios.

This solution can be applied to the Department of Defense, disaster response, asset tracking and logistics. All these markets require an infrastructure for data collection and distribution in an offline and remote environment. We have seen multiple companies develop and operate solutions in these fields but are not able to customize and adapt to all these markets at once. We chose the name OWL Integrations since we believe the key is to be able to integrate with existing solutions already deployed in the field. Instead of replacing traditional radio and communication systems, we want to add a layer of data collection for these challenging environments.