Sink or Swim: How AI Can Help First Responders Improve Decision Making

by Daniel Saaristo

The brave men and women around the world who work in emergency services go to extreme lengths to rescue people caught up in dangerous situations.

They rely on good information and clear communication to assess situations, work as a team and determine the best path of action.

Currently, first responders mainly rely on audio forms of communication or paper-based reports. These descriptions of scenes may not give the full picture. And if these networks fail, emergency services personnel can be left in the dark.

By connecting responders with video from drones processed using AI video analytics, startup and Inception program member Unleash Live is enabling better decision making for situations where safety is in the balance.

Life’s a Beach

Unleash Live has offices in Munich, Germany, and Sydney, Australia, where they’ve done much of their development work. Think of Australia, and sunny weather, surfing and expansive coral reefs probably come to mind.

But those idyllic beaches are the setting for tragedies each year. Hundreds of people drown annually off Australia’s coasts. Shark attacks are much less frequent, but still potential causes of injury. Of the 19 unprovoked shark attacks recorded last year, one was fatal, while 11 resulted in injuries.

When incidents occur on isolated stretches of coast, critical time and resources are wasted in the notification process. Response units are only able to fully assess the situation upon arrival at the scene.

Improving the view that lifeguards have over beaches can ensure that fewer people suffer injuries or fatal accidents. Using drones to capture real-time video footage, lifesavers can gain a better understanding of what is occurring off their shores.

But even this is not enough, as rescuers and drone pilots are often alone, forced to make critical decisions with limited collaboration.

Unleash Live’s technology helps responders make critical decisions, even in isolated locations.

Unleash Live’s Command Hub platform connects first responders and drone pilots, who are monitoring the beaches, with multiple views so rescuers can make faster, better decisions.

Using NVIDIA Tesla accelerators on AWS, Unleash Live’s platform provides decision makers with multiple live audio and video streams, which can be accessed from mobile devices.

Applying AI video analysis to this data in real time, Unleash Live can help responders better tell if the murky shape in the water is a shark or a piece of driftwood. They can detect someone who has got into difficulties while swimming. And they can build accurate 3D models of specific coastal environments and monitor, as well as predict, environmental changes.

It’s not only those at the coast who can benefit from Unleash Live’s platform. The company’s tool can bring a bird’s eye view and AI smarts to help manage construction sites, maintain infrastructure, improve safety and disaster management, and even understand how best to engage audiences in the sports and entertainment industries.

“We’re enabling faster, better decision making across dispersed infrastructure assets,” says Hanno Blankenstein, CEO and founder of Unleash Live. “Running our platform on NVIDIA GPUs means that we can process 4-5x more video, in HD quality, in the same amount of time as we could using CPUs, ensuring that decision makers receive the most information in the fastest time.”


Unleash Live is one of more than 2,200 startups in our Inception program. The virtual accelerator program provides startups with access to technology, expertise and marketing support.

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