Advanced technology to fight fire from the air through massive multimodal mobility
The United States (USA) is on fire … literally. Noisy , In that calendar year, the nation experienced 39,955 forest fires, two thousand more than the ten-year average (37,675). So far, 104 major fires have devastated 2.4 million hectares. lists the still-burning California Dixie fire as the second largest in the state‘s story: 1,109 structures were destroyed on its way. Two organizations that (“The collective “) and (“COE“, Have come together to fight this problem together by using networked cutting-edge technology.
Todd Spain, Executive Director of The Collective, looking at himself, “a lifelong tech guy whose mission is to bring technology to make the world a better place, ”founded The Collective a few years ago as a non-profit organization. Prior to this, Spain had held managerial positions at Cisco Systems for almost twelve years, followed by ten years of consulting work for companies in the growth phase‘ Leadership teams that help them solve challenges and bring new products to market. His goal for The Collective: To bring the emerging mobility community together to solve real-world healthcare and disaster management and resilience challenges, including forest fires, by using a unique tech-social approach to achieve economically sustainable operations.
The COE, on the other hand, serves the community by conducting critical fire fighting research and development (R&D) and operational testing. It also offers training, certification and operational support. Led by Miller, a self-proclaimed one “Pragmatic Technologist, ”in his previous position with the Mesa County Sheriff‘s Office, which was the first in the country to launch a public safety drone program in 2008-2009, the center is focused on bringing public safety to the cutting edge of technology.
“We recognized early on that exposure is a valuable place to invest government taxpayers’ money. We bought two Multi-Mission Aircraft (MMA), single-engine turboprop-manned Pilatus PC-12s, which at the time was the easier way than buying large unmanned systems, ”explained Miller. “Ironically, we use the same cameras and sensors on the PC-12s as we do on the Predator or Reaper drones. We start them with infrared sensors to look for hotspots so we can make a quick first attack to catch the fire before it grows. “
Reaching that end state and more is exactly why The Collective is partnering with the COE. The two are now driving technological advances to improve fire fighting practices and influence innovation across the public safety community. Miller remembered “We used to think of forest fires as a forest management event. Now with urban sprawl, forest fires have become a public safety event. Typically, forest management groups were poorly equipped and trained to deal with the scope of the problem. States are finally starting to invest in public safety capabilities for fighting fires in forest areas because of it‘a threat that won’t go away. It continues to increase and we are all caught catching up. “
The threat persists because the environment has changed. Many forest fires are caused by extreme weather. In Colorado it is‘s dryer and warmer. The fire season lasts about a week after the snow melts in May until the snow falls again in November. It used to only last from August and September.
To address the problem, the collective and the COE hope to establish the Forest Tech Center (FTC) in Colorado. The FTC will facilitate the assembly of complex systems of system solutions to demonstrate that different technologies can work together as force multipliers for forest fire prevention and response. These systems could include drones, robotics, IoT sensors, weather systems, altitude platforms, and communication infrastructure. “Once we have demonstrated performance in a risk area, we will expand in two directions: 1) the geographic footprint; and 2) by continually adding technical skills and use cases that are being addressed, ”Spain stated. Colorado has twelve high risk forest fire counties. The medium-term goal would be to expand every system that The Collective and COE are developing to all twelve districts. Spain offered “As soon as we do that, there‘There are no limits to where we can help. We are looking for a limitless solution. “
The partnership allows both organizations to focus on what they do best. The COE plans to channel public safety operators to help The Collective understand their challenges so that it can target ways to help. The Collective will bring together the right players in the industry, the so-called Collective Partners, to develop the necessary solutions.
Collective Partners currently include a variety of companies and organizations, including communications companies like RoGO Fire, weather experts like QS-2, analytics companies like the SAS Institute and LifeScale Analytics, and airspace / mission deconflict groups like Focused Support. Partners also include VTOL and drone companies such as Causey Aviation Unmanned and Talyn.
The collective‘s vision fits directly to the COE‘s mission because each of his R&D projects has a network and connectivity component. The development of the accuracy and speed of this information and from situational awareness to spatial awareness remains high at Miller‘s to-do list. “It‘It’s about knowing the where of the what. We do a fantastic job communicating the ‘What‘ through our voice communications network, because we’ve spent a lot of money moving from analog to digital and firefighters are trained to be good, tactical communicators. But literally, to get the retarder to the finish, someone exclaims ‘Hey Tanker 20, can you see the pond by that rock down there?‘ Then we hope that Tanker 20 sees the same pond. Having a lat / long where people are looking is the next big chunk to solve. ”Network connectivity will be a big part of the transition from identifying a hotspot with a manned or unmanned MMA to the quick attack phase, where water or dirt is deposited on it.
The team‘The plan is simple but complex. The first step is to set up the right communications, physical, and data infrastructure. Next, the team hopes to bring in robotics, as well as autonomous land and air vehicles, to prioritize containment measures. Müller noticed “With a technically improved understanding of weather and vegetation, we will be able to detect fires at an early stage with airborne systems and cameras with ML / AI capabilities and to extinguish them quickly through the rapid deployment of manned and unmanned systems, “agreed Spain and added, “In the backend, people like Ben can use sensor technology and drones to fully understand the damage and, if necessary, re-sow with fleets of VTOLs. The challenges grow daily with forest fires, especially in the Wildland Urban Interface. Technology will help us manage nature on a large scale. “
These two professionals are personally involved in the success of their project on many levels. Last summer, the fire in East Troublesome, Colorado blew up to 200,000 acres with winds and tornadoes of 170 mph in its own weather, spitting fireballs across the continental divide towards Estes Park, which was within half a mile of Spain‘s house. “That summer we saw two expensive helicopters picking up huge bags of mulch and seeds and dropping them into the forest. I can‘I don’t think of a more expensive way to do that, ”he quipped. “We need a mobility fleet mentality. A fleet of eVTOLs could do this cheaper and more precisely, especially if the drone technology first informed where the greatest damage has occurred, where the problems with water catchment areas and flooding, etc. could be. We need to create a massive multimodal mobility model to get this right. “
The collective is now working to set up the physical and virtual infrastructure to pave a path to success for many companies in the drone and advanced air mobility ecosystem, while benefiting the public at the same time. “Solving real problems will guarantee a bright future, ”predicts Spain. “We are determined to promote fair solutions with a neutral infrastructure so that many companies – and all people – benefit from the advantages of networked mobility. “
Learn more about the collective .
Watch the Dawn of Drones podcast with Spain and Miller on DroneLife .
Dawn MK Zoldi (Colonel, USAF, retired) is a licensed attorney with 28 years of combined active military and federal civil service with the Department of the Air Force. She is an internationally recognized expert on the law and politics of unmanned aircraft systems, a columnist for several magazines, Winner of the Woman to Watch in UAS (Leadership) Award 2019, President and CEO of UAS Colorado and CEO of P3 Tech Consulting LLC. You can find more information on their website at: https://www.p3techconsulting.com.