ISIS Researchers explore AI technology to help optimize Nashville emergency services

When leaders from Nashville’s fire department and emergency management services began participating in a yearlong series of community engagement discussions with faculty experts from Vanderbilt University in September of 2021 they weren’t sure what to expect.

What they did know is that—like nearly every city at that time—they were experiencing significant headwinds coming from two distinct directions. The omicron variant of Covid was beginning a late-fall surge that would persist over the next nine months. At the same time, labor shortages had become critical in the wake of abrupt shutdowns experienced during the initial phases of the pandemic.

Emergency and non-emergency services were in critical demand and yet they were struggling to remain well-staffed.

So, when city officials came to the Vanderbilt workshops, they really only had one question for the researchers: Could they reduce the time for help to arrive on-scene without needing to hire more people?

It was exactly the kind of question that Meiyi Ma, assistant professor of computer science, and her colleagues have been exploring. Their research focuses on integrating artificial intelligence (A.I.) and internet-of-things (IoT) technology to improve operational efficiencies in sprawling and complex environments like the city of Nashville.

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