RescuePal: A Smartphone-Based System to Discover People in Emergency Scenarios


In emergency scenarios such as earthquakes, fires, avalanches, or building collapses, it is necessary to discover people trapped under debris or anyway hidden from eyesight. In this paper, we propose RescuePal, an energy-efficient smartphone-based system that does not require any interaction by the victim and does not use energy-expensive GPS. RescuePal leverages a wake-up system based on sounds that activates the WiFi interface of the victim's smartphone only when the rescuer is close, to save energy. After presenting the system, we mathematically formulate an optimization problem so as to find the sound frequency and power level that minimizes WiFi false activations and yet guarantees high discovery efficiency. RescuePal has been implemented on off-the-shelf Android-based devices, and its performance has been evaluated on a realistic use-case scenario of victims inside a building. Finally, the energy consumption of RescuePal has been calculated using the Power Monitor hardware tool. Results demonstrate that RescuePal is highly effective and saves more than 60% of energy with respect to an approach based only on WiFi.

Meeting Name

IEEE 17th International Symposium on a World of Wireless, Mobile and Multimedia Networks, WoWMoM 2016 (2016: Jun. 21-24, Coimbra, Portugal)


Computer Science

Research Center/Lab(s)

Intelligent Systems Center

Keywords and Phrases

Energy efficiency; Energy utilization; Optimization; Signal encoding; Wireless local area networks (WLAN); Building collapse; Emergency scenario; Energy efficient; Hardware tools; Optimization problems; Power monitor; Sound frequency; Use case scenario; Smartphones

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2016 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2016