July 16, 2003

San Diego's CDF Air Attack Base Collaborates with HPWREN for Mountain Sensor Access to Monitor Fire Conditions

The HPWREN team recently connected the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) Ramona Air Attack Base in San Diego County to its high-speed network. This connectivity allows firefighters to collaborate on remotely accessing high-resolution still and controlable video cameras, as well as other sensors located throughout the county. Not having had high speed Internet access before, this link also provides access to Internet data - such as satellite mapping, infrared data, forest fuel conditions and weather at remote sensors in support of emergency situations.

"We are interested in evaluating HPWREN-like technology for our emergency data communications needs," explains Captain Ron Serabia. "We are particularly interested in using this type of technology when fighting fires in those really remote areas where there is no other means of transmitting data - it's unbelievable what information can now be accessed via this connection quickly for our operations."

cdf air attack base
Wildfires in southern California are inevitable. However, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) works hard to ensure that such fires are brought under control and extinguished as soon as possible. One of the key factors in the CDF's success is its aviation program, which includes the air attack base located at the Ramona Airport in San Diego County. This base is now connected to HPWREN.

"Technology such as this provides CDF with a means for the command and control functions to better communicate information to the field units. The same will also work in reverse with the field units relaying real time intelligence to the regional command and control decision makers," says Jim Garrett, CDF Emergency Command Center Chief. "The suburban and rural areas which CDF typically protects frequently lack any commercial high speed connections, making the HPWREN technology even more necessary. The cost of this technology is very inexpensive, making it very appealing to any agency with limited funds."

Interestingly enough, there are many areas in southern California where cell phone coverage is unreliable. And, those are typically the areas in which wildfires occur.

"My hope is that we continue to share our lessons learned from HPWREN experiences with other agencies that have similar objectives to the CDF so that they can evaluate and benefit from the multiple uses of such data communication technologies for sensor and other data access," says Hans-Werner Braun, HPWREN principal investigator.

In addition to the Ramona Air Attack Base, the CDF's Red Mountain fire station is also connected to HPWREN.

More information about the CDF's aviation program is available at http://www.fire.ca.gov/FireEmergencyResponse/Aviation/Aviation.asp.


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