New Insitu Partnership Augments UAV Firefighting Efforts

Bingen, Wash.-based Insitu, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing, has joined forces with FireWhat and Esri for enhanced firefighting efforts using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and geographic information system (GIS) software.

Through this partnership, aerial reconnaissance for fighting wildfires will be provided by Insitu’s INEXA Solutions, comprising INEXA Control, Insitu air vehicles such as the ScanEagle drone, and payloads including the new high-accuracy photogrammetry payload. The INEXA Solutions aerial remote sensing services group will work with FireWhat’s fire professionals, using its GIS software that is customized for firefighters and hosted on Esri’s ArcGIS platform.

Currently, fire incident commanders must work with fire line information that often is 12 to 24 hours old – while a fire continues to burn, says Insitu. Now, Insitu’s ScanEagle UAS can “fly the gaps” – both day and night – using its military-grade electro-optical cameras during the day and infrared (IR) cameras at night.

According to the company, flying at these times will provide previously unavailable data collection, analysis and delivery of decision-making information to manned firefighting fleets operating in difficult terrain, smoke or temperature inversion situations.

Integrating Insitu’s aerial remote sensor imagery with FireWhat’s GIS will provide near-real-time, Web-based video to FireWhat’s ground-based mobile command centers. The IR camera technology penetrates smoke or darkness; gathers and disseminates geo-referenced still images of points of interest; and allows FireWhat’s data to quickly create geo-referenced, high-resolution mosaics in PDF format, as well as digital fire progression/suppression maps.

According to Insitu, combining these new technologies will dramatically increase strategic and tactical awareness and decision-making for firefighters and first responders. Insitu, FireWhat and Esri’s efforts are also supported by HP hardware, including servers, laptops and printers.

“We are pleased to be working with these great organizations on efforts that are so important for saving lives and protecting resources,” comments S.J. Camarata, director of Esri’s global business development and strategies. “Employing UAVs to provide real-time data to track, plan and predict how dangerous events like wildfires evolve is important to the future of emergency response.”


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