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City of Pittsburgh Prepares for Severe Air Quality EMS Incidents Using Predictive Analytics Technology

Date: 2017-04-24
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City partnered with the University of Pittsburgh and Intermedix to host a workshop as a part of the ONEPGH initiative.


The City of Pittsburgh was joined last Monday April 17th by representatives from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and Intermedix to host an emergency preparedness resilience workshop as a part of the ONEPGH initiative, which is a partnership with the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, an organization pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. The three organizations put on a daylong workshop at the university aimed at exploring how emergency response technology would work with predictive simulations to prepare the region for an air quality combined with a heat wave disaster of the magnitude of the killer Donora smog event in 1948.

“Through public engagements as part of ONEPGH, we recognize that air quality is one of the primary stressors facing the region,” said Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Pittsburgh. “In talking with emergency response professionals, some of their concerns center around the question of what happens when normal events occur simultaneously to create cascading effects that put strains on systems. What we aim to do is model a historical event, like the Donora smog, and place it in a modern context.”

The university’s model, FRED, is a simulation technology initially created to predict the dynamics of infectious disease epidemics and the interacting effects of mitigation strategies, viral evolution and personal health behavior that has since been expanded to include many non-infectious diseases, as well as social and environmental factors that affect health.

“In this scenario, we are using FRED to estimate the clinical impact of heat and smog on different demographics within our population,” said Mark Roberts, M.D., M.P.P., Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management and director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory at Pitt Public Health. “FRED allows us to pinpoint critical conditions and the effect of potential interventions to better educate response efforts. For example, we can use the model to predict how many instances of acute respiratory disease warranting a 911 call would occur in the context of this environmental event.”

Optima Predict, a predictive response planning and simulation solution created by Intermedix, is then able to determine the appropriate resource allocation and deployments of emergency response personnel with the information provided by the FRED model.

“Optima Predict allows the city to create a scenario for EMS response based on inputs such as personnel and resource availability, post plans and vehicle location to determine the most appropriate response based on the community needs identified by FRED in this scenario,” said Justin Schaper, Senior Vice President of Analytics at Intermedix.

The workshop also explored the communication and coordination challenges between first responders, emergency management and critical infrastructure organizations, such as hospitals and utilities.  The Intermedix incident management technology WebEOC was utilized to highlight best practices for managing similar events.

The workshop, facilitated in partnership with 100RC, hosted more than 50 public health, emergency management and air quality professionals from Western Pennsylvania. “Using technology and professional experience together is a great way for us to model how systems interact, and we can also use different scenarios and circumstances to replicate the process in the future,” said Rebecca Kiernan, Senior Resilience Coordinator for the City of Pittsburgh.

ONEPGH is the City of Pittsburgh’s first Resilience Strategy, released in March, 2017. For more information visit:

- Corporate News/ (via Intermedix, 4/18/17)


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