Early warning fire camera system expansion eyed by California | NevadaAppeal.com

Early warning fire camera system expansion eyed by California

Nevada Appeal staff report

The Holy Fire, between Orange and Riverside counties in California within the Cleveland National Forest, burned more than 23,000 acres in August. Fire managers used the AlertWildfire system to monitor fire behavior.

The AlertWildfire network of mountaintop fire cameras is working with utility companies and local and state government to expand their networks into more areas around the state, especially in the urban/wildland interfaces.

A recent CNBC article, "California's next governor hopes to get the jump on fires by expanding the state's high-tech early warning camera system," published Nov. 16, reports the latest information about the system in regards to expansion in California.

"The success of our system lies in our ability to deploy wireless, microwave technology to enable high-speed internet out in the wilderness or in the urban interface," said Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory Lab at the University of Nevada, Reno and one of the principal creators of the network.

The high-definition, 24/7/365 near-infrared, night-capable fire cameras cover areas of Nevada and California's Sierra Nevada and now includes Sonoma, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties.

"Clearly, more systems are needed throughout the West," Kent said. "I'm happy with the system so far — but there are plenty of other areas that are in dire need of this technology."

Kent and his colleague Neal Driscoll, professor of geoscience and geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, are working feverishly, guiding their crews to install cameras, with as many as three a week being installed in recent weeks as funding comes available. They're close to their goal of having 100 cameras around California by the end of the year.

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Fire managers can manually rotate, tilt, pan and zoom the cameras. While fire agencies can move the cameras with this active pan-tilt-zoom functionality, the public can observe the real-time views, as well as the time-lapse functions with a 15-minute, 60-minute, three-hour and six-hour time-lapse utility built into the webpage viewer (right-click on the camera image for options). The Seismological Lab's YouTube channel, nvseismolab, has a library of videos captured from the network.