Friday, September 25, 2009

Guiberson Fire 2009/09/25

This GeoCam photo shows the challenges of the Guiberson Fire: rough terrain made access difficult as the fire threatened power lines and oil rigs (credit: Chris Waters / CAL FIRE).

For the first time, GeoCam phones were used for post-fire damage assessment (credit: Chris Waters / CAL FIRE).

Today we distributed seven GeoCam phones to field observers at the Guiberson Fire and collected 55 photos. Rob Lewin, the incident commander, reviewed our interface and gave us his take on what CAL FIRE wants from new sensor technology -- the most important thing is that we produce the right kind of high-level map for them to use in planning operations.

Unfortunately, we arrived at the fire too late for our information to really impact their planning process. Barring major weather changes most of the crew here will demobilize by Sunday. As activity dies down we're still figuring out whether we'll return to Ames or try to engage in post-damage activities on this and the Station Fire for a few more days.

In the morning we watched Aerovironment test their Puma aircraft, trying to use its thermal IR camera to trace the fire line. Here we see prep for launch near the ground station.

Some other events today:
  • Many thanks to Chris Waters' crew in Fire Behavior and Nancy Parson and Geovani Stoute in Damage Assessment for testing out the phones. We'll also be talking to folks in the post-fire rehabilitation crew tomorrow.
  • Todd Tuggle and Jennifer Valdez in the GIS mapping trailer are advising us on how to export data from GeoCam Share to an ESRI shapefile format their tools can read in.
  • Tim Ball, a thermal infrared analyst and helicopter pilot out of Reno, took one of the phones up in his helicopter to evaluate. He explained how he reduces his data collection process to the very barest essentials that can produce the data product the IC wants, namely a registered map of hot spots. Hopefully GeoCam can be stripped down a lot as well after we get more experience.
  • Our host, Sit Unit Leader Buddy Bloxham, had a lot of insightful comments. He was impressed that field observers could learn to use a GeoCam phone in five minutes. He also reinforced the importance of some of our key goals -- focus on ease of use, cutting down the admin time required to set up an incident (when the crew is at its busiest), and ability to view other products like track logs in the map. IC Rob Lewin said it would really help to enable sharing of quick natural drawings on a map.

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