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Portuguese professor showcases in the US technologies to monitor vital signs in firefighters (Público)

João Paulo Cunha, coordinator of INESC TEC’s Centre for Biomedical Engineering Research, will be the only Portuguese at the conference organised by the United Nations.

A professor from Porto will present at a United Nations conference two technological solutions to monitor the vital signs of paramedics and firefighters in situations of conflict and natural disasters. The conference takes place at Google's headquarters in the United States.

João Paulo Cunha, coordinator of INESC TEC’s Center for Biomedical Engineering Research and a professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), will be the only Portuguese to participate in the conference organised by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a press release announced.

The technological solutions developed by INESC TEC to be presented by the professor are wearable sensors that make it possible to verify, for example, cardiac function (through electrocardiogram - ECG), respiration and body temperature, and assess fatigue rates, stress levels, exposure to heat and harmful gases (such as carbon monoxide). In addition to the vital signs, the technology developed, integrated into emergency communication, alarm and critical event management systems, can be used to verify the positioning of first responders, João Paulo Cunha explained to Lusa.

The conference, entitled “Empowering Affected People”, runs from Wednesday to Wednesday at Google’s headquarters in the US. The goal of this event is to “ensure that individuals or communities affected by conflicts or natural disasters have a voice in projects and programmes launched for their benefit”, the press release stated.

“Technological changes have had a major effect on humanitarian operations” and if “in the past organisations only used radios and telephones, today it is possible to use satellite systems, drones, smartphones and computers to collect, share and analyse information.”

According to INESC TE’s press release, it is estimated that subscriptions to mobile devices will exceed the global population by 2020 and that more than half of the world's population will have rapid access to the Internet, with humanitarian organisations being able to use technology to respond more effectively and efficiently to natural disasters or conflicts that may occur.

The conference will be attended by 175 representatives of technology companies, humanitarian agencies, academies, universities and government entities from various countries.

During the initiative, there will be several sessions dedicated to topics related to digital payments, communications with affected communities, collection and privacy of data, visualisation and analysis, digital identification, among other topics.

For João Paulo Cunha, this will be a great opportunity to better understand what is happening worldwide in the area of “Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Technology”.

Público, 21 March 2017



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