Data analytics and emerging technologies take center stage at NFPA's Conference & Expo in Las Vegas

2016 NFPA Conference & Expo banner

June 21, 2016 – At the recent National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Conference & Expo (C&E) in Las Vegas, Nevada, keynote presentations, General Session, educational tracks and interactive displays highlighted the growing importance of data analytics in fire and life safety; and the impact that new technology is having in fire prevention and protection today.

NFPA’s annual meeting is considered the premier industry event for nearly 7,000 professionals from the fire services, code enforcement, architecture, electrical, engineering, building, facility management and insurance industries; last week’s conference did not disappoint.

Two keynote presentations, entitled “Eyes in the Sky, On the Ground and Under the Waves,” covered the latest advances in prevention, response and monitoring technology. Daniel Koh, chief of staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, discussed cutting-edge data dashboards that the administration launched in just five months so that local leaders could monitor key prevention, response and planning efforts underway in Boston. Koh’s presentation resonated with the audience who was impressed to learn about the CityScore initiative and the profound impact that Boston’s real-time data focus is having on day-to-day operations, government worker morale, citizen engagement, and strategic planning. Dr. Robin Murphy of Texas A&M University followed with a global view of how robotics and technology are increasingly improving disaster preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery throughout the world. 

Daniel Koh, the chief of staff in the mayor’s office in Boston, detailed for the large crowd, the many innovative ways Boston has used the plethora of data it collects to become more efficient and provide better service to city residents.

In her keynote presentation, Dr. Robin Murphy, director for the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue at Texas A&M University, highlighted some of the challenges huge amounts of data can create.

In his opening remarks, NFPA President Jim Pauley spoke about the organization’s journey from being strictly a codes and standards-publishing organization to an information and knowledge expert that delivers research and analysis based on both NFPA resources and outside data. Data analytics, he said, is becoming an intrinsic element of NFPA as an organization. Pauley then introduced the audience to NFPA’s new data analytics server, Crosby, named for the organization’s first secretary. The server is meant to compile big data from a variety of sources and serve the vast needs of NFPA stakeholders.

In his remarks to the crowd, President Jim Pauley urged attendees to take pride in the progress we’ve all made in our fight against fire – and to be aware that with progress, new challenges emerge. 

To reinforce this year’s key messaging, a hands-on Discovery District was established in the Expo. The new space highlighted emerging technology and the response tactics required during emergency situations. Attendees learned about artificial intelligence and interacted with robots in the “robot petting zoo.” New safety sensors and smart devices created a buzz in the Smart Solutions Showcase. Participants also enjoyed touring, exploring and learning about two growing trends: alternative fuel vehicles (AVFs) and food trucks. NFPA’s new Data Analytics Sandbox also made its debut so that fire services, municipalities and others could see the value in cultivating, sharing and utilizing data to create solutions for operational and tactical challenges. NFPA is collaborating with stakeholders to reduce community risk, foster better efficiencies, encourage inter-agency communication, improve first responder safety, and deliver cost savings.

Later in the week Bart van Leeuwen, a data expert and firefighter from the Netherlands, delivered the featured presentation, which focused on big data. In it, van Leeuwen explained his work harnessing the capabilities of big data to lower risks for firefighters and community members. His presentation and professional expertise hinges on the idea that properly gathered and analyzed big data can have a tremendous impact on local firefighting efforts.

Throughout the conference, attendees got to take a deeper dive into data and new technologies during educational classes and informal learning sessions. C&E featured more than 120 education sessions with more than 20 devoted to data, risk management, smart technology and emerging trends such as energy storage systems, food trucks, alternative fuel vehicles, solar energy, lithium ion batteries, sensors and other new innovations that are currently impacting fire and life safety. For a more complete round-up of activities from C&E including videos, code updates and select presentations, please visit our blog.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information visit All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275