Case Study: U.S. Forest Service
Fires started in forests can be very difficult to locate and fight when they are in their early stages. Many examples of small fires that go undetected until they erupt into infernos come to mind. The tragic Waldo Canyon blaze near Colorado Springs, Colorado is a good example. It was sparked near a busy trail, close to a highway. People smelled it and crews searched intently for it, but it could not be located until its size had increased dramatically. By then it was out of control, and ultimately it cost lives, destroyed property, and consumed an enormous amount of firefighting and other resources before it was under control.
The challenge of coordinating resources and getting live information from isolated locations and stove-piped systems in time to make critical decisions is a constant reality for the Interagency Fire Community. Generating this information has long been an example of going “above and beyond.”For many years, Fire Planners have been rising at 2am to consult dozens of maps and reports in an effort to compile the best information in time for morning briefings.
Recognizing the problem, Interagency Fire Managers embarked upon a project to systematically integrate data from all facets of their organizations and share it in a live feed for those who need it most. Operations, Planning & Analysis, Dispatch, and Resource Location information is now being pulled into a very successful real-time collaboration between fire management agencies to help both firefighters and the fire managers who support them. The National Interagency Fire Center’s Enterprise Geospatial Portal (EGP) is the result of their hard work and dedication.
Users have access to a wealth of information including fire history, predictive outlooks, and national situational awareness. Data feeds from many systems are now producing a cohesive national picture. Daily incident reports from large fires, live dispatch data showing emerging incidents, resource allocation of firefighting equipment and personnel, current weather conditions, wind direction and speed, MODIS hotspots, and airborne satellite imagery are just some of the scores of information layers shared in the powerful, visual, map-centric system.