Life Rafts for Skyscrapers

Life Rafts for Skyscrapers
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How might 9/11 have been different if people inside the twin towers of the World Trade Center could have safely evacuated along the exterior of the buildings? Jonathan "Yoni" Shimshoni and his team at Escape Rescue Systems Ltd. ("Escape") have invented a high-rise evacuation system that is essentially an elevator that lowers a series of expandable cabins along a building's exterior to bring fire and rescue personnel to floors in distress and to lower building inhabitants safely to the ground. The five cabins can evacuate up to 30 people each, for a total of 150 people in a single deployment cycle. The company website has a video of the system in operation. Escape was founded in 2002 in response to the 9/11 attacks, and the first prototype was installed on a 21 story building in Israel in 2004. Escape won a Department of Homeland Security designation as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology, yet the company has been blocked from testing a prototype in NYC by the city's Office of Emergency Management, which reportedly called the project "unworthy of the necessary building permits." According to an AP/CNN report, "Among the city's concerns: there would be confusion over who would operate the system during an emergency; using windows as escape routes can help a fire spread; passengers in the cabins risk passing floors immersed in flames; and the system would be prone to the Titanic effect -- chaos over who would be first in line for a limited number of spots in each cabin. Shimshoni acknowledges the city's concerns are legitimate, but "if you want to be sure how to address them, there should be a pilot program," he said."
Submitted by elementlist on Feb 24, 2006
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