The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay area has an urban environment of the high-density population that is inherently more sustainable and ideally suits smart city technologies. Increasing numbers of fires in tall buildings around the world have shown that the evolution of the built environment has changed the nature of the threat from fire. Urban environments are exposed to greater risk as prescriptive fire safety strategies are no longer fit for purpose. Firefighters are left facing an unpredictable hazard, that they are neither trained nor equipped to deal with, as the London Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 tragically demonstrated. On top of the human cost, costs due to losses from fire are estimated at approximately 1 per cent of global GDP per year.
As part of the smart city blueprint, the SureFire System adopts the complex data generating networks that enable real-time monitoring of the evolution of urban environments and hazards. Proper analysis of this data based on artificial intelligence can deliver information that continuously determines the state and evolution of systems and diagnoses emergent pathologies and support the decision making. Here, we gathered a multi-disciplinary team with leading local and international researchers and research laboratories, a government agency (FSD), and multiple high-tech companies to find answers to the fundamental research questions required to develop the foundational technology for a smart firefighting system that takes advantage of the rapidly evolving technology landscape of cyber-physical systems. Implementation of such a system for smart firefighting will help Hong Kong achieve the status of the world's leading smart city.