Date of release: Thursday, February 27, 2014

Professor Ed GaleaGreenwich has won a top prize at the Guardian University Awards.

The award, in the prestigious Research Impact category, is for the work of the university’s Fire Safety Engineering Group (FSEG) in developing a new type of emergency signage system. Known as Active Dynamic Signage Systems (ADSS), these signs could revolutionise evacuation procedures and help to save lives in emergency situations.

The awards were announced at a prestigious ceremony in London last night (26 February).

The Guardian University Awards were launched last year as a way of showcasing world-class teaching, research, leadership and engagement within the higher education sector.

Greenwich has previously won eight Times Higher Education Awards, and three Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher & Further Education.

Professor Ed Galea, Director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group, within the university’s Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities, says: “We are thrilled to have national recognition for the extensive research carried out by the team. Our aim was to demonstrate the life-saving potential of the new signs, which bring the humble emergency exit sign into the 21st century.”

The ADSS system consists of flashing, ‘running’ green lights, within the arrow of a standard emergency exit sign, to immediately draw people’s attention during an evacuation. The signs also display a large flashing red cross if people are not meant to proceed along a particular exit route.

The signs can be set to activate automatically when the alarm is sounded, and operators in a control room can close an evacuation route, using the red cross, if CCTV cameras reveal it is unsafe. The entire system can be made ‘intelligent’ and respond to fast-changing conditions, such as levels of smoke and the location of people in a building, and will therefore help to minimise delays, injuries and potential fatalities.

Professor David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor, says: “Our commitment to research of the highest quality is one of our defining characteristics as a university. In particular, we aim to carry out work for the benefit of society, and this is perfectly illustrated by the new emergency signage. I would like to congratulate Professor Ed Galea and his team for their hard work and dedication, and everyone at Greenwich should feel proud of this latest success.”

The work forms part of an EU FP7 research project, led by the university’s Fire Safety Engineering Group, called GETAWAY.

FSEG set up a collaboration with a British company, Evaclite, to develop the signage system. Evaclite has now received considerable interest in the device from high-profile organisations in both the USA and UK.

For more information on the Guardian University Awards: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/university-awards

Story by Public Relations